Commoners and Nobles: Hereditary Divisions in Tibet

Series: NIAS Monographs (96)
In Lhasa today, two contradictory value systems co-exist. After the forced incorporation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China in 1950, the Chinese authorities have transformed the Tibetan social system and worked against - but failed to eradicate - the long-established principles by which it was traditionally organized. This study explores how Tibetans manoeuvre within the two value systems, balancing between ideals and pragmatism. It offers an analysis of the persistence and change in the hierarchical relations between Tibetans of different family backgrounds, focusing in particular on the former aristocracy and their ascribed status as cultural experts in contemporary Lhasa.