A personal note.
Tashi Delek and welcome to the Tibetan Material Culture website. This site aims to provide you with an open-access comprehensive resource to learn more about the rich tradition and culture of the Tibetan Drokpa(s) or pastoral nomads. The material culture originating from the Drokpa community is vast and therefore the focus of this project is diverse and long-term. The pastoral nature of the nomadic lifestyle and changes as a result of education, environment, and generational differences in lived experiences makes the study of material culture extremely interesting and challenging at the same time. I try to remain relevant by focusing on people's relationships to objects and their place in the everyday life of the community rather than taking a "longing" approach to what could have been or what was. Change is a complex subject to discuss but it is often welcomed under various circumstances and a part of the project also focuses on change especially of the identity of a nomad.
As the person managing and creating the content for this site, I would like to let you know that I do so as a multimedia producer and a documentary filmmaker. I have not lived as a nomad but I come from a family of nomads with my generation being the first to be born in a settled village. I am greatly inspired by my parents on this project and I have been learning about the many layers and complexity of the pastoral nomadic way of life through the community of Tibetan refugees who continue to live as nomads in Ladakh.
In 2015 with a personal project supported by the Rowell Fund for Tibet, I was able to spend an extensive amount of time in Jangthang, mainly understanding deeper about the people who lived as nomads and taking pictures whenever possible. I have since then dedicated a lot of time, either reading other people’s early and recent accounts from Tibet or spending time at Jangthang in Ladakh with the families I now know very closely. It is one of my life's commitments to document as much of the nomadic culture as possible and make it available for anyone interested in learning more about the nomadic culture and traditions. With time, the identity of being a 'Nomad' or a 'Drokpa' is also shifting. The young generations have expanded the way one identifies as a nomad. Traditional contexts are no more the only way one can define who a nomad is and concerning people of the present time, I also focus on changing nature of things, the young generations, and the complex narratives around identity.
As the earth is increasingly challenged by climate changes and unwarranted pandemics, I strongly believe that the knowledge and wisdom from the way of life of the pastoral nomads will benefit the future generation. I will continue on this project from time to time and I request you to visit the page for updates in the future. Don't forget to share it with your friends and family.
Thank you so much for visiting the Tibetan Material Culture Website. I hope you enjoy the content.
This project aims to document the material culture of Tibet primarily through the community of pastoral nomads living in the remote Jangthang region in Ladakh.
Our goal is to ENCOURAGE appreciation of traditional culture and knowledge of the present and past, to build a space for generational INTERACTION and to make important information ACCESSIBLE for a larger audience.
This project wouldn't be possible without the support of many individuals and organizations. Most heartfelt gratitude to all the families and individuals who participated in the interviews and in the documentary process. Seed funding was provided for the website by the Tibetan Art and Culture Fund 2019, made possible through the USAID, Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibet Fund.
Tsering Wangmo is a researcher, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, and photographer born and raised in India. Through her works, she is committed to telling the stories of communities and people whose voices have been either marginalized due to political subjugation or whose stories are underrepresented due to a lack of access to mediums and infrastructures of storytelling. She is interested in topics related to Tibet, Tibetans, pastoral nomadism, working-class experiences, family, memory, identity, and material cultures.