Taxation in Tibetan Societies: Rules, Practices and Discourses


The study of taxation is fundamental for understanding the construction of Tibetan polities, the nature of their power – often with a marked religious component – and their relationships with their subjects, as well as the consequences of taxation for social stratification.
This volume takes the analysis of taxation in Tibetan societies (both under the Ganden Phodrang and beyond it) in new directions, using hitherto unexploited Tibetan-language sources. It pursues the dual objective of advancing our understanding of the organisation of taxation from an institutional perspective and of highlighting the ways in which taxpayers themselves experienced and represented these fiscal systems.
Contributors are Saadet Arslan, John Bray, Kalsang Norbu Gurung, Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy, Berthe Jansen, Diana Lange, Nancy E. Levine, Charles Ramble, Isabelle Riaboff, Peter Schwieger, Alice Travers, and Maria M. Turek.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Alice Travers is a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS, CRCAO, Paris), where she works mainly on the social history of Tibet in the 19th and 20th centuries and on the history of the Ganden Phodrang army, in the framework of the ERC-funded TibArmy Project (“The Tibetan Army of the Dalai Lamas, 1642–1959”).

Peter Schwieger is emeritus professor of Tibetology at the University of Bonn, Germany. His research covers history, literature and language of Tibet. His publications include Handbuch zur Grammatik der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache (2009), The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China (2015) and Conflict in a Buddhist Society: Tibet under the Dalai Lamas (2021).

Charles Ramble is Directeur d’études at the EPHE - PSL University, Paris. His book publications include The Navel of the Demoness: Tibetan Buddhism and Civil Religion in Highland Nepal (2008), as well as three volumes in a series entitled Tibetan Sources for a Social History of Mustang (Nepal) (2008, 2015, 2019).
Note on the Transliteration and Transcription of Tibetan Names and Terms
List of Figures and Maps
List of Tables

1 The Tax System in Central and Far East Tibet Towards the End of the Ganden Phodrang Reign: An Outline of Its Structure and Terminology
Peter Schwieger

2 A Perspective on the Ganden Phodrang’s Administration of Taxation in the 19th and 20th Centuries Based on Archival Sources
Kalsang Norbu Gurung

3 “When You Count, Everything Is There, and When Everything Is There, Everything Vanishes” A Criticism of Tax Collecting in Ngamring District (Rdzong) during the First Half of the 20th Century
Alice Travers

4 Traditional Taxation Systems in Western Tibet: A Comparative Perspective
Nancy E. Levine

5 Lam Yig—An Official Document Granting Travel Privileges in Tibet
Saadet Arslan

6 “My Karma Selected Me to Become A Ferryman”: The Role of Waterways and Watercraft in the Corvée Tax System in Pre-1959 Tibet
Diana Lange

7 Performing Tibetan Opera As Khral in the First Half of the 20th Century: In Principle a “Tax”, in Experience a Pervasive Obligation
Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy

8 A Preliminary Investigation Into Monk-Tax: The Concept of Grwa Khral/Btsun Khral/Ban Khral and Its Meanings
Berthe Jansen

9 Monastic Obligations, Hat Change and Lhasa Encroachment Taxation Rights Among Politico-Religious Shifts in the Kingdom of Nangchen
M. Maria Turek

10 “By Ancient Custom and Engagements”: Trade, Taxes and Diplomacy in Ladakh and Western Tibet between the 17th and 20th Centuries
John Bray

11 Taxes and Corvées in the Manorial and Monastic Estates of Zangskar (Western Himalayas)
Isabelle Riaboff

12 The Fiscal Status of Buddh1ist and Bönpo Institutions in Mustang (Nepal): A Historical Overview
Charles Ramble

This book will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as teachers and researchers in the fields of Tibetan, Chinese and Asian history, and more generally the anthropology and economy of Asian societies.
  • Collapse
  • Expand