กกThe Moinbas are scattered in the southern
part of Tibet Autonomous Region. Most of them live in Medog, Nyingch
and Cona counties.
They have forged close links with the
Tibetan people through political, economic and cultural exchanges
and intermarriage over the years. They share with the Tibetans the
common belief in Lamaism and have similar customs and lifestyles.
Their language, which has many dialects,
belongs to the Tibetan-Myanmese language family, and many of them
can speak Tibetan.
Customs and Habits
In Menyu area, men and women
prefer to wear robes with aprons and black yak hair hats or caps.
They wear soft-soled leather boots, which are decorated with red
or black striped designs. Women usually wear white aprons, earrings,
rings and bracelets. People in the subtropical Medog County dress
differently. Women as well as men wear short or long jackets, and
the women wear long striped skirts and various kinds of jewelry.
The Moinba's staple food includes rice,
maize, millet and buckwheat. Maize and millet are ground and prepared
to make porridge. Like the Tibetans, the Moinbas also eat zhamba
(roasted qingke barley), butter tea and pepper.
Their homes are two- or three-story,
herringbone-shaped houses of wood with bamboo or straw roofs. The
second and third floors are used for living quarters and the first
for livestock. They observe monogamy in marriage. Some are believers
of primitive shamanism, while others are followers of Lamaism. Water
burial, ground burial, sky burial and cremation are all used for
their dead. They follow the Tibetan calendar and observe the same
festivals as the Tibetans.
The Moinbas have composed many beautiful
tunes and ballads over the centuries. Among their most popular folk
songs are the "sama" and "dongsanba," which
are similar to many Tibetan songs. Their dances are simple and dynamic.
Menyu area, at the foot of the Himalayas,
enjoys abundant rainfall, swift rivers, beautiful landscape and
fertile land, which bears rice, maize, buckwheat, qingke barley,
winter wheat, soybeans and sesame. Virgin pine forests are inhabited
by wild boars, bears, foxes and golden monkeys.
Various actions had been taken by Tibetan
authorities over the centuries to consolidate their rule over Menyu
area. The area became the hereditary manor of Tibetans' Zhuba Geju
(faction) during the mid 14th and early 15th centuries. In the mid-17th
century, the Fifth Dalai Lama united the whole of Tibet and established
the yellow sect of Buddhism as the dominant religion. He sent two
of his disciples to Menyu to set up an office there. They enlarged
the Dawang Monastery and began the integrated rule of religion and
politics over the area.
In the mid-19th century, the Resident
Minister of the Qing court in Tibet and the Tibet local government
also posted two officials in Menyu to administer their rule and
to give the monastery special administrative powers. Each year,
the Tibet local government would send officials to the area to levy
taxes, purchase rice and administer trading of salt and rice. Local
officials appointed by the government were responsible for passing
on orders, settling local
disputes, and running village and township affairs.
The Moinbas became poverty-stricken
under a system of feudal serfdom following the establishment of
the rule of the Zhuba Geju (faction) over them in the 14th century.
Traces of this primitive system remained until the liberation of
They used the simple slash-and-burn
method of agriculture. Fields were left to nature's mercy, and productivity
was very low.
Hunting was an important part of survival.
Game was distributed among villagers, with the hunters getting double
portions. Some game was bartered for grain and other necessities.
The three types of manorial lords --
the Tibet local government, the nobility and the monastery -- each
possessed large areas of land, forests, pastures and other means
of production, while the Moinbas were made serfs and slaves.
There were two categories of serfs
-- the tralpa and the dudchhung. The tralpa rented small plots of
land from the manorial lords, and paid rent in cash and kind, such
as butter tea, timber, dyes and charcoal, in addition to doing unpaid
labor. The dudchhung were mostly immigrants from central Tibet and
border areas, and were at the bottom of the social ladder. They
were the poorest and most cruelly oppressed of all. They had to
pay heavy taxes and do heavy unpaid labor. Some had to rent land
from the tralpa.
Today, vestiges of this old society
can still be found in certain clans and villages, where part of
the land, pastures, hills and forests are communally owned. Villagers
can reclaim wasteland and chop wood and bamboo free of charge at
the consent of their headman. Outsiders who want to do the same
must also have the headman's permission.
The Moinbas lived like beasts of burden
under the cruel oppression and exploitation of the three manorial
lords. They were forced to do unpaid labor for as many as 110 days
a year. Many died as a result, and some hid deep in forests to escape.
On many occasions they revolted against
this criminal rule. They sabotaged communication links and refused
to do unpaid labor or pay taxes.
Tibet was peacefully liberated in 1951,
and democratic reforms were introduced in 1959 after a counter-revolutionary
armed rebellion was put down. During the action, the Moinbas joined
the Tibetan people in support of the People's Liberation Army. Since
then, they have shaken off their yoke and begun a new life. The
days of having to survive on wild fruits and nuts, wearing animal
skins and banana leaves and living in caves and forests have
gone forever. Agricultural output has risen considerably
through the development of hillsides, introduction of irrigation
systems and superior crop strains, and ending of the traditional
slash-and-burn farming method.
Now the Moinbas have moved into bright,
new electric-lit houses. Narrow footpaths and single log bridges
have been replaced by roads and suspension bridges.
The Moinba people now have many schools
for both children and adults, and have trained their first generation
of teachers, accountants and other professionals. Some young people
are studying at the Tibet Ethnic Minorities' Institute in Lhasa
and the Central Ethnic Minorities' Institute in Beijing. Men and
women of Moinba origin are working as administrators at various
levels of government.