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The Ala And Ngakpa Priestly Traditions Of Nyemo (Central Tibet): Hybridity And Hierarchy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the case of a distinctively local and hybrid tradition of priests: the ala of the southern, agricultural part of Nyemo County, a small rural area in Central Tibet. It discusses the relations between the Nyemo ala and a type of Buddhist and Bönpo religious specialist with which they are closely related: the ngakpa or 'tantrists', i.e., non-monastic, householder tantric priests who are typically recruited by succession from father to son. In that sense, the chapter is a modest contribution to the anthropological study of the structure of the religious field in Buddhist contexts as well as to the still relatively underdeveloped anthropology of tantric Buddhism perse. It analyzes the relation between, and the patterns of use of, the Nyemo categories of ngakpa and ala from as broad as possible an array of angles: contextual linguistic usage, religious associations, colour and other symbolism, aspects of social organisation, etc.

Keywords: ala; central Tibet; ngakpa; Nyemo; tantric priest



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    Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the IATS, 2003. Volume 12: Buddhism Beyond the Monastery — Recommend this title to your library
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