Photo Narratives

Tibetan nomad schools

‘Nomad boy reading’. Ponru school, Sichuan, China 2005. &

Tibetan Nomads – Youth and Schooling.

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Ponru hamlet – is a Tibetan Summer herding area located at the altitude of 4.300 meters. The Tibetan nomads are staying in tents with their children attending the small school, where I stayed for a week in august 2005. The school is now closed by authorities enforcing the children to attend boarding schools in larger cities.

For children of Tibetan nomadic (drokpa) families, it is often a struggle to attend school. The long distance from home to school, irrelevance of school learning to daily life and available jobs after graduation contribute to the choice by some parents to keep their children at home for domestic work.

Tibetan Nomads – A Life in Transition.

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Although some parents consider schooling in its present form a waste of time, it is nevertheless acknowledged that proficiency in Chinese and basic knowledge gained from schooling are probably essential if employment is to be sought outside the pastoral community.

This case study introduces three primary community schools in the herding areas of Qinghai and Sichuan. In addition to Chinese, these schools teach Tibetan, and take traditional beliefs and cultural values into account.

It is argued that recognizing rural life in remote, high-altitude herding areas is under transition and has made Tibetan parents more open towards schooling, in particular if their children have the possibility to attend a local community school.

Related publications:

Bangsbo, Ellen (2008). ‘Schooling for Knowledge and Cultural Survival: Rural schools in the Tibetan Borderland.’ In Educational Review. Special Issue: Education of Tibetans. vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 69–84. Taylor & Francis Ltd. Routledge.

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Bangsbo, Ellen (2008). ’Tibetanske nomadebørn i private skoler’ (Tibetan nomad children in private schools). Kinabladet. nr. 37, pp. 12–16.

Nepali Rural People – cultivation and use of nettle and hemp fibers

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In 1979 I did a short individual trip to the rural areas south of Jumla in western Nepal. Due to the cold weather most village people stayed domestic, while uninterruptedly occupying themselves with spinning or twinning threads for clothing, sacks or fishing nets. At that time a blonde blue eyed girl like me was a quite uncommon sight and I was curiously invited to stay at peoples simple houses everywhere I went.

Payment for cooked food was only possible with the exchange of uncooked food. Clothing in nettle and hemp fibers was dominant, although regarded as a simple dressing in towns. Today, however, the cultivation of nettle fibers has become an increasingly growing industry in Nepal with export of supreme quality nettle cloth to western countries and Japan.

Related publications:

Bangsbo, Ellen. (2014). ‘9999.’ In Global Textile Encounters. Nosch, Marie-Louise, Zhao Feng, and Lotika Varadarajan (eds.). Oxbow Books. Ancient Textiles Series, vol. 20. Oxbow Books: Oxford & Philadelphia. Pbk. ISBN: 9781782977353. Pp. 245–254.

Bangsbo, Ellen. (2012). ’Allo – en bæredygtig nælde som tekstil i Nepal’ (Allo – a sustainable nettle textile in Nepal). Nepal Vision. vol. 21, nr. 2, pp. 28–30. On-line: