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Ethnographic Tibet

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Chapter Summary

The statement of the Alchi lonpo that his ancestors 'gave the law' to villages like Photoksar mirrors the assertion of adjudicatory judicial authority over the regions by Lhasa officials described by Goldstein (1971a). In both cases this turns out to have been more of a theoretical than a practical reality, however. In central Tibet the peasants could take their complaints against the lords to Lhasa and there is evidence that some did so (1971a: 177). In Ladakh the Photoksar villagers could take their complaints to Alchi and can, now, have recourse to the police or the courts in Leh. However, they rarely, if ever, do so and containing and resolving disputes internally is one of their ways of maintaining a measure of local autonomy against the great traditions of the centre. Such practices continue to be a significant force within the urban dynamics in Ladakh.

Keywords: Alchi; judicial authority; Ladakh; Lhasa officials; Photoksar; police; Tibet



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