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Aziz, Barbara Norma (1969) The structure of Tibetan rural society. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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In this essay I examine the operation of social relationships in three kinds of Tibetan communities. The field and period are introduced in Part 1 by an historical review of Tibet and of the beliefs and practices which had become characteristic of Tibetan society. In the first chapter the politico-religious structure of Lamaism is traced from the introduction of Buddhism in the 7th century to the establishment of the Gelugs-pa church and Lhasa Government headed by the Dalai Lama. Then a brief description of the geography places the subject in its ecological context. In the second chapter, four major aspects of Tibetan religion considered particularly relevant to the main issues in this essay are outlined so as to provide some ideological framework of the society with which we are concerned. Having established the historical, physical and ideological framework within which the communities to be examined operated at the beginning of this century, attention is turned to the structural and organizational features of each of the three Tibetan communities. Each chapter of Part 2 then deals with one type of socio-political community. First the Lhasa administrative system is described. Actual social relationships are illustrated by the examination of the Lhasa government's social components: the nobility, the church, and the foreign powers operating within and around the key government offices - those of the Dalai Lama and Regent. In the next chapter, attention is turned to the operation of a local monastery in Tibetan society. First the distinctions as to types of monastic centres are made; then the general administrative structure of a model centre is described. The actual operation of a monastery and the relationships of its constituent elements are revealed when the office of the abbot is examined in detail. In the fifth chapter a similar approach is used to illustrate the nature of political relationships in the local lay community. There the office of village headman is the focal point to which social forces in the village and in the wider political community of the landlord are related. Finally, in Part 3, some conclusions are drawn about the distribution of power in Tibetan society. Certain features present in each of the three types of communities examined are compared and some suggestions are made about the nature of autonomy and competition in relation to the structure of Tibetan society.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:05

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