views updated


ETHNONYMS: Dhamang, Lama, Murmi

The Tamang, numbering some 500,000 in 1985, occupy mountainous regions and the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley in midwestern Nepal. The Tamang are composed of patrilineal exogamous clans that are classified into two endogamous status groups: those whose members have intermarried only with Tamangs or Sherpas and those whose members have intermarried with Magars, Gurungs, or Newars. In the mountains where the Tamang are the major ethnic group, they live in settled agricultural villages often subdivided into lineage-based hamlets. In these areas, each clan controls tracts of commonly owned land (kipat). The clan also appoints a village headman or tax collector who arbitrates disputes and manages the land. Each village also has one or more shamans (sometimes one for each clan) who conduct rites honoring ancestors and the annual agricultural rite. The Tamang have lamas too, with endogamous marriage to daughters of lamas preferred but not always practiced. Larger villages often have a Buddhist temple and perhaps a monastery. In the hills around the Kathmandu Valley, the Tamang are best described as a lower caste who work as tenant farmers, porters, and day laborers for the Pahari and Newar while retaining their Buddhist beliefs and practices.

See also Nepali; Nyinba


Fürer-Haimendorf, Christoph von (1956). "Ethnographic Notes on the Tamangs of Nepal." Eastern Anthropologist 9:166-177.