Who actually are the Tamang People? An Insight into Indigenous Tribe of Nepal

Tamang (Nepali: तामाङ) people are one of the indigenous tribes of Nepal. Tamang means “Horse Traders.” A popular belief is that the word Tamang was derived from a Tibetan word Tamag, where Ta means “horse”, and Mag means “rider”.

A lively and ethnically rich class, they are known for their cultural richness, audacity and generosity.

Society, Culture & Lifestyle


Bombos are shamans in Tamang culture
Bombos are shamans in Tamang culture

Tamangs have a system of six types of societal leaders: Tamba, Ganba, Bonbo, Labonbo, Lama and Choho—to keep the Tamang society continuously alive and dynamic. They have their respective and important roles to play in the development of the society.

Their priests, or lamas, have a dominant role in the community and perform ceremonies for funerals, etc. Perhaps the most powerful person in society, however, is the shaman, who exorcises demons and interacts with the spirit world. Most of the Tamang live in Nepal.

Two groups of people known as Thami and Pahari live in traditional Tamang areas of the eastern hills. They number only a few thousand and practice similar social, religious and economic customs. Thamis have settled higher than the Tamangs in the upper Tama Kosi river valley.

A recent survey concluded that there are 1,423,000 Tamangs living in Nepal. Most of them are the followers of Nyigma sect of Buddhism and speak their own language belonging to Tibeto-Burman language family.

Sonam Lochhar (Tibetan New Year) and Saga Dawa (Buddha Jayanti) are two of the major festivals celebrated by Buddhists in Nepal. Tamang Heritage Trail and Helambu Trail are two of the treks emphasizing the cultural exploration of Tamang people in Nepal.


Tamang Drum
Tamang Drum

Many scholars hold differing views on the formation of Tamang. Some suggest that they were the soldier of Tibetan King Tsrong Tsang Gompo while others claim that they were villagers living on the border of Tibet and Nepal and were called foreigners by the Tibetans. Historically Tibetans, Tamangs today preserve their own set of culture and lifestyle.
Despite the marginalization and discrimination from various other dominating classes since ages, they have developed a vital socioeconomic importance in Nepalese society. Today, they are mostly found in the districts of Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Rasuwa, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Dhading, Makwanpur, Nuwakot, Ramechhap, Chitwan and Kavreplanchowk.


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