Tamang culture

History of Tamang Culture

The Tamang ་དམག་ (Devnagari: तामाङ; tāmāng), or Tamag, are the indigenous inhabitants of theHimalayan regions of Nepal and India, their ancestral land is called Tamsaling. They are the aborigines of Yambu, or Kathmandu Valley, who had self rule and autonomous roughly 2 centuries before present, systematically displaced during the expansion period of Gorkha Kingdom and this continues to the present day, the Central Development Region, Nepal remains where 70% of the population reside. The traditionally Buddhist Tamang are the largest Tibeto Burman ethnic group within Nepal, constituting 5% of the national population of over 1.3 million in 2001, increasing to 1,539,830 as of 2011 census, yet contested.Tamang are also a significant minority in Sikkim and Darjeeling District of West Bengal of India as permanent settlers; their languages are fifth most spoken in Nepal (note all Tamang languages are not mutually intelligible).

They were one of the aborigines who were least affected by the process of Nepalization or Khasization. They were considered low caste automatically in the dominant Hindu state and system, and thus, there is exploitation, marginalization, and oppression of Tamang people. Peculiar to Tamang people are complex marriage restrictions within the community.

Due to their proximity to the capital city, governments have considered that an empowered Tamang community could pose a possible risk to their regimes and 1/3 of all deaths were among Tamang people, and roughly 2/3 of the 600,000 structures completely destroyed were in Tamang dominant areas. It is the consequently have striven to ensure that the Tamang People have remained disenfranchised, exploited and dominated.


The religion is considered by Tamangs as Bon Lamaism, distinct and predating Tibetan Buddhism, and due to geopolitical focus on Tibet, Tamangs hold their beliefs are also largely ignored by Western scholars. Tamang have gompas (monasteries) in every sizeable village. Every family has their special Buddhist god and book to worship every morning. The Tamangs retain hankris (shamans) in addition to their Lama clan (Tamang) (priests), the latter whose surnames are also Lama. Additionally there exists the honorific term Lama (honorific), assigned to all Tamang regardless of kinship clan (swagen bhai). This is not to be confused with Lama of Tibet or the Sherpa Lama surname and clan. These jhankris perform certain rites such as trances and sacrifices to alleviate problems or assure good fortune.


The word Tamang is reconstructed from 2 words: Ta – Horse and Mang – Businessman/Trader in the Tibetan language.

Culture & Festivals

Tamangs are divided into 240 families, Flags and colourful printed by Buddhist mantra, holy words and clothes are put in different places in the village. Tamang have a dance called Tamang Selo that is performed to the Damphoo instrument, also known as Damphoo Dance, having a brisk movement and rhythmic beat peculiar to Tamangs.

Dashain is also approached with much enthusiasm by Tamangs.


Most Tamangs are farmers, engaged in agriculture as small holders and day labour. Due to the lack of irrigation at higher altitudes, their crops are often limited to corn, millet, wheat, barley, and potatoes. They often supplement their farming income with manual labour. Due to the discrimination experienced by the Tamang people they have remained on the whole poorly educated, and the majority have been limited to working in farming, portering, mountain trekking, and driving in Kathmandhu. They also work in construction of Tibetan rugs, Thankas (Tibetan painting), driving, labour and trekking. As far as farming is concerned, Tamang are dependent on rainfall and do not employ modern machinery.

Kinship clans

Thars (Tamang language:Swagen Bhai) are exogamous clans with complex intermarriage restrictions. There are over 39 listed swagen bhai in one study.

Origins and History

Tamangs have long inhabited Kathmandu Valley and the hills of Nepal in general, yet the origins of Tamang are exactly unknown, yet they believe they are indigenous to the area had once ruled Nepal. They have beliefs that they have been descended from mugughyalsa which is called as mugu district in modern district.