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History of the Sherpas

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A chronological chart


beginning of the genealogy of the Lamaserwa clan based on the aristocratic Niyang-Rig line of Niyang Oser

about 1400

birth of Gegyelpo, the deified ancestor of the Minyakpa clan


Chak Pon Sangye Paljor, together with his family, leaves his home area of Salmo Gang in Kham (eastern Tibet) and settles in Dolgyi Shalphu Thokteng (in the eastern part of the Tinkye district in central Tibet) (see map of migration route)

about 1490

Chak Pon's father, Chak Minyak Dongka Ringmo, and the families and servants of Thimi Zangpo Tashi and Serwa Yeshi Gyaldzen follow Chak Pon to central Tibet

before 1500

the current Sherpa area of Solu-Khumbu is possibly used as seasonal hunting and pasture ground

about 1500

the emigrants move to the area south of the Tsomo Tretung lake where they settle near the ruins of Tratse Dzong; in the following years, they are joined by members of the Minyakpa clan as well as newcomers from Tram, Dom and Takpo

about 1530

Dujom Dorje, the second son of Chak Pon, together with a friend, visits the meditation retreats of Pangboche and Dingboche in Khumbu

about 1533

a small group of 20-50 persons under the leadership of Dujom Dorje enters Khumbu via the Nangpa La; the Minyakpa under leadership of Minyag Tonpa Druzang settle in Phortse (eastern Khumbu); the Thimi first settle in western Khumbu

about 1550

the Serwa, later called Lamaserwa, found the village of Zhung (nep.: Junbesi) in Shorong, other early settlements being Phukmoche, Domphuk and Dolange

about 1550

the two younger sons of Minyak Tonpa Druzang form the Shire sub-clan; Zungden, together with his cousins Yulla Tsering, Yulla Palden, and Dalha Darpo move to Shorong where they found the village of Takto, founding the Takto sub-clan; Yulla Palden crosses the Lamjura pass and settles at Gising Gangdo (nep.: Sagar-Baganje), later founded villages being Sete, Churungkharka, Dudele, and Changnyima; Dalha Karpo moves to the south west and founds the village of Golela (later founded villages being Bhusinga, Ngowur, Kapte, and Lhungsa)


the clan of the Chiawa or Chakpa settles in Solnasa (nep.: Gora) south of Mount Pike

end 16th century

members of the Thimi clan move to upper Pharak (main village: Lhawu Shintok, nep.: Ghat); those remaining in Khumbu become the Paldorje sub-clan

about 1600

the grandsons of Minyak Tonpa Druzang's eldest son, Zungden, form separate sub-clans: Sonam the Binasa sub-clan (settling in southern Shorong), Richung the Pankarma sub-clan (settling in Pharak and later in Gumdel), and Sangpal Tseten the Yulgongma sub-clan (main village: Ledingma)


Lama Sanga Dorje, the founder of Pangboche temple

about 1640

Ralwa Dorje leaves Zhung and founds the village of Thashing (nep.: Bamti), west of the Likhu Khola

about 1650-1700

the Thimi split into two sub-clans: the Salaka (living in Takshindu, Chulemo, Yawa, Deku and Mopung) and the Khambaje or Khamje (in Damsere, nep.: Phera, and Khamje); persons from Takshindu later form the Lakshindo sub-clan after moving to western Shorong


foundation of the temple of Pangboche (Palriwu Gomba)

about 1667-1672

foundation of the temples of Thami Og (western Khumbu) and Rimijung (Pharak)

about 1700

the whole of Pharak has become clan area of the Thimi

about 1700

Kaji Tile, a grandson of Ralwa Dorje, founds the village of Shertong (nep.: Sertu)

about 1717

Dongbu (Rai) forces defeat the Sherpas south of Nauje; possibly the latter further on have to pay tribute to the Sen kingdom that controls the lower Dudh Kosi valley during this time


foundation of the temple of Zhung


Sherpas from Shorong settle in the Chyangma (nep.: Bhandar) area

about 1750

descendants of Kaji Tile move to Dokarpa


the Gorkhali forces conquer eastern Nepal and extend their authority also upon Khumbu, Pharak and Shorong

about 1775

Sherpa of Shertong found the village of Changmela (nep.: Deurali)


state document concerning the Sherpas


state document concerning the Sherpas

early 19th century

Jodhan Karki is the first Chetri to settle on Lamaserwa clan territory


first known report of a visiting official of the Nepali government from Kathmandu in Khumbu; Sherpas are punished for the killing of cows


first official mentioning of a gembu (head tax collector)

about 1825

Sherpas from Shorong settle in the Arun valley of eastern Nepal


first mentioning of Nauje (nep.: Namche Bazar) in Nepali government documents; the government transfers the trade monopoly across the Nangpa La upon Khumbu


foundation of the temple of Khumjung; introduction of the Dumje festival after differences with Thami Og


a tax document mentions the names of eight pembu (tax collector or local political headman) and 169 tax paying households for the whole area of Khumbu


a government decree (lal mohar) confirms the traditional collective land use rights (kipat) of the Sherpa clans of Shorong


birth of Karma, the later founder of the monastery of Tengboche

about 1850

foundation of the villages of Chukebuk (nep.: Sim) and Gaichepe


murder of pembu Nam Chumbi at Chorkem

about 1850s-1860s

introduction of potatoes in Khumbu


a government decree (lal mohar) reconfirms the traditional kipat right of the Sherpa clans of Shorong; it mentions the tax districts of Shorong by name and settles the yearly tribute (see map)


Sangye Lama, Karma's younger brother; he later becomes the founder of Phaplu and of Chiwong Gomba


emigration of a small group of poor Sherpas from Thamicho in western Khumbu to the Rolwaling valley

about 1875

foundation of the villages of Lhomsa (nep.: Lumbu), Jhareni, Chyangma (nep.: Bhandar), and Dzomdingma (nep.: Gyangtar)


Hari Ram of the Survey of India crosses Khumbu on his way to Tibet


birth of Kusang, later the most important sponsor of Tengboche monastery


under Prime Minister Bir Shamsher, Nepal is divided into 35 administrative districts; the Likhu Khola becomes the border river between the districts East No. 2 und East No. 3 (see map); as a result, the Sherpa area of Shorong is cut into two parts; at the same time, the government introduces first restrictions towards the kipat tenure rights of the Sherpas: immigrants into the area can now register land in their name as raikar land


Tsepal from Golila-Gepchua (and Nauje) becomes gembu replacing Dorje from Thami Og

around 1900

emigration of a greater number of poor Sherpas from the Solu-Khumbu area to Darjeeling; in 1901, their number there has increased to 3.450


foundation of Rumbu (Rongphuk) monastery, situated in the Tibetan Dingri region north of Chomolungma (nep.: Sagarmatha, Mount Everest)


Khumbu assigns Yaks for the British military expedition to Tibet under Younghusband


construction of the temple of Nauje under participation of 34 households; first celebration of Dumje there

after 1907

increasing interest in the Sherpas of Darjeeling with the expansion of mountaineering


foundation of the monastery of Tengboche on the intention of the abbot of the Rumbu monastery, under participation of Chatang Chotar (Lama Gulu), Lama of Khumjung


the monastery of Tengboche is consecrated by the abbot of Rumbu; a part of the Nakdingdok rani ban and some other land is put under the direct administration of the monastery

about 1920

assassination attempt on gembu Tsepal, who flees to Tibet


foundation of Chiwong monastery by Sangye Lama


the Anglo-Nepali Treaty of Friendship (21 December 1923) contributes to the decline of copper and iron mining in Shorong; one of the consequences is the impoverishment of many Tamang and Magar miners as well as Kamis


in the part of Shorong belonging to district East No. 2, the kipat tenure is further reduced; also the fields cultivated by Sherpas have to be registered as raikar land (private land); as a result, they can be sold to people from out of the Sherpa clan system


foundation of Devuche nunnery near Tengboche

about 1930

people from Shertong found the village of Sotarmu


extensive introduction of red patatoes (riki moru); patatoes, more and more, become the main food of the Sherpas


the extended limitation of the kipat tenure is also introduced in the part of Shorong belonging to East No. 3


final annulment of the kipat tenure of the Sherpa clans


first westerners coming to Khumbu


the number of Sherpas in the Darjeeling district has reached 7.539


in spring and autumn, several futile attempts of Swiss expeditions to climb Chomolungma


transformation of the temple of Thami into a monastery with celibate monks


Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climb Chomolungmy as members of the John Hunt expedition; Edmund Hillary later becomes the special sponsor of the Sherpas


arrival of about 5.000 Tibetan refugees in Khumbu

1961 the introduction of the panchayat system causes a further division of the original Sherpa area (see map)


repeal of the legal based caste endogamy, which is in contradiction to the social system of most of Nepal's ethnic groups, so the Sherpas


construction of the small air field at Lukla in Pharak; beginning of trekking tourism


establishment of a branch office of the Sagarmatha zonal administration in Nauje


inauguration of the weekly market at Nauje


land reform (bhumi sudhar) and registration rules


construction of the small air field at Syangboche in Khumbu; opening of the Everest View Hotel


introduction of the yellow potato (riki seru) from Darjeeling in the Bhote Kosi valley


during a conference of the World Wildlife Fund in Bonn, Germany, Prince Gyanendra announces the establishment of the Sagarmatha National Park


a delegation from New Zealand checks possibilities of a financial participation in the construction of the Sagarmatha National Park


introduction of the yellow potato (riki seru) from Singh Gomba (northern central Tibet) in Khumjung


official announcement of the Sagarmatha National Park in the Nepal Gazette


establishment of the Solu-Khumbu forest administration in Salleri


conclusion of the land registration under bhumi sudhar


introduction of the "development potato" (riki bikasi) in Khumbu


conclusion of the power project at Nauje


Tibetan traders resume the traditional trade with Khumbu


the Langmoche flood destroys, among many other things, the power project under construction at Thamo


construction of a power station at the Tengboche monastery


installation of a Forest Management Committee by the administration of the Sagarmatha National Park to give the village representatives greater authority in the use of forests


the Sagarmatha National Park transfers the control of forests and wildlife in the area between Phunkitenga Chu und Mingbo Chu upon the Tengboche monastery


Pasang Lhamo first Sherpa woman on Chomolungma; she dies on her way down to the base camp


establishment of a Buddhist Highschool at Takshindu monastery and of the Sherpa Culture Centre at Salleri


construction of Junbesi Academy at Zhung


great successes of Sherpas in mountaineering: Lhakpa Sherpa and Pemba Doma as second and third Sherpa woman reach the top of Chomolungma, Appa Sherpa conquers the mountain for the 11th time, and Babu Chhiri Sherpa storms the summit within about 18 hours

2003 the 50th anniversary of the day when Tenzing and Hillary first climbed Chomolungma is crowned by several heroic success of Sherpa mountaineers. Lhakpa Sherpa becomes the first woman to reach the summit for a third time (May 22). She is accompanied by a brother and her 15-year-old sister Mingma Kipa Sherpa who thus becomes the youngest ever person on Chomolungma. Appa Sherpa reaches the summit for an unbelievable 13th time (May 26). Late Babu Chhiri's speed record is broken twice within only three days: First, Pemba Dorji Sherpa reaches the summit after 12 hours and 45 minutes (May 23), then, Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa improves this record to 10 hours and 56 minutes (May 26).
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