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Introduction: Hair in Tibetan Culture

Nicola Schneider
Cet article est une traduction de :
Introduction : Le fait capillaire dans la culture tibétaine

Texte intégral

  • 1 The editors of this issue would like to express their thanks to Cécile Ducher (cdat, ephe), Rachel (...)
  • 2 For a general study of trichology, see Bromberger, 2010 and also the present volume.

1This issue of Les Ateliers d’anthropologie on hair and its treatment in the Tibetan cultural area is the result of a conference in March 2014 organized by the Société française d’études du monde tibétain (sfemt)1. It reproduces some of the works presented at that meeting, and deliberately establishes a dialogue with the trichological research of anthropologist Christian Bromberger, who honored the society not only by attending that conference, but also by contributing to this issue2. If, as Bromberger (2005: 8) points out, hair signs “constitute a system of differences within a given cultural configuration” (with certain notions recurring across different cultures), what does a trichology of the Tibetan world teach us?

  • 3 The Tibetan terms are given here in their transliteration according to the (however improperly name (...)
  • 4 Beards (rgya) could constitute another very interesting subject, but will not be dealt with here.
  • 5 To our knowledge, the only articles and books that explore hair in the Tibetan area are: Bogin, 200 (...)

2We thought it would be interesting to examine Tibetan societies from this new angle, because despite our respective specializations, at one time or another we have all been struck by the diversity and importance of hair in the Tibetan world. To avoid making the theme overly broad, we imposed a certain number of restrictions: the contributions to this volume would only deal with hair on the head [(dbu) skra, skra (ou mgo) spu, ral pa, spa lo, etc.3] and would concern neither body hair [spu], nor ornaments or finery (headdresses, hats, etc.), which are so varied in time and space in the Tibetan world that they merit specific study4. This choice also seemed wise because of the dearth of studies on hair among Tibetans5.

3Having said this, though studies are lacking, this does not mean hair is never mentioned. A few conversations and a brief review of various written sources (both primary and secondary) have revealed that hair is an important, if not essential subject for anyone wanting to understand Tibetan society—as it is for all human societies, Tibet not defying that universal fact. Therefore, this introduction aims to draw attention to a few materials that can help us reflect on this central but often overlooked aspect of Tibetan symbolic, aesthetic, social and material life.

1. Hair associated with prosperity and life

  • 6 Skra bzhar nas tshes grangs blta; Lhamo Pemba, 1996: 14.
  • 7 Personal communication from Drugyal, September 2011.
  • 8 See also Duncan, 1964: 184.
  • 9 Personal communication from Ani Dawa, February 2016.

4Generally, many Tibetans believe that hair can serve as a material support to the yang [g.yang], a kind of essence connected with prosperity (Jamyang Sakya, 1990: 91). A Tibetan proverb expresses it in these words: “To consult an astrologer. After cutting one’s hair”6, because if the reverse is done, then the astrologer’s predictions risk being distorted, and this would have harmful effects on prosperity. This importance is also shown by the ritualization to which a child’s first hair-cutting is subjected, something that Lhamokyab Noyontsang’s article explores in this volume. More generally, in Tibetan culture, the treatment of hair requires specific precautions. For example, hair is not discarded like just any waste item. According to a Tibetan friend7, in some regions of Amdo today, older people still pick up their hair after each brushing, then meticulously collect it and store it in a secret place, such as a recess in the wall of their house, or in a sacred place like a circumambulation path. Tibetologist René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz tells us that an enemy’s hair (or his clothes or nails), can be used as mediums for aggression rituals aimed at attacking or annihilating this enemy ([1956] 1996: 360ff., 483ff.)8. Similarly, the hair of a sick person is used in the performance of a therapeutic ritual (ibid.: 511)—a strong indication of the link that exists between an individual and his skin appendages. A nun friend told me that women quite often save their fallen hair, with a view to later adding it to their own locks, thickening and embellishing it at one and the same time9. Under no circumstances is fallen hair allowed to stay on the ground, because of the risk that birds might collect it to build their nests, something that would cause one’s hair to grey prematurely. Furthermore, it is strongly recommended not to burn hair in the household fireplace, since this is an offensive act towards the chthonic deities [klu], who could take revenge through diseases (Lotan Dorje, 2013: 72). In the monastic field (Vinaya), burning hair after shaving is even considered a minor infraction (Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé, 1998: 120).

  • 10 With the exception, of course, of hair and nails from holy people, which constitute relics: see Tul (...)
  • 11 Personal communication from Norbu, August 2015, born in the Lhasa region. See also Gouin, 2010: 76- (...)
  • 12 See Thubten Sangay, [1984] 2011: 56. Unfortunately, the author does not specify the exact ritual in (...)
  • 13 Loseries, [1993] 2008: 181-182. For another instance of hair incineration separate from the treatme (...)
  • 14 Personal communication from Norbu, August 2015, born in the Lhasa region.
  • 15 Many thanks to Kunsang Lama and his father.

5However, what goes for the living does not apply to the dead, whose hair sometimes receives a specific treatment10. We know that the hair of the deceased is reduced to ashes along with their bones when bodies are prepared through cutting-up and exposure to vultures11. Some wealthy families invite monks to perform “hair rituals” [skra chog] at that time12. In the past, at the Drigung [’Bri gung] monastery, which specialized in celestial funerals for the whole of Medrogongkar [Mal gro gung dkar] county in central Tibet, the hair of all of the deceased was first assembled in a “hair house” [skra khang]. Then, yearly in the fifth month, a special rite was performed, concluding with a hair incineration constituting a burnt offering [sbyin sreg]13. Finally, according to a legend14, the hair of the deceased would sometimes be used to make the large, black door-curtains that protect the entrances to Tibetan temples, curtains that are today made of yak wool, as indicated by their Tibetan name [sbra yol; literally “tent curtain (made of black yak hair)”15].

2. A preference for long hair

  • 16 Ma bu mo tshang gi skra ring yang blo thung; thanks to Françoise Robin for providing me with this r (...)

6With the exception of monks and nuns, who will be dealt with in part of Nicola Schneider’s article in the present volume, it was long hair that was recommended for both women and men (at least until Tibet was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s). It is worth noting that women generally wear their hair longer, thus giving expression to a misogynistic adage: “In families consisting of a mother and her daughters, the hair is long but the ideas are short”16.

  • 17 However, it should be added that the title “Relpachen” was already standard in pre-Buddhist Tibetan (...)
  • 18 See Shakabpa, 2010: 160 and bDud ’joms ’jigs bral ye shes rdo rje, 1978: 250.
  • 19 See, for example, Geshe Lhundup Sopa, 1983: 114.
  • 20 See also Bromberger, 2010: 181-182. The idea of an opposition between right-hand sacredness and lef (...)

7There is evidence of this preference for long hair in imperial times (7th-9th century), since the monarch Tritsuk Detsen [Khri gTsug lde btsan, circa. 815-838/841] was known as Relpachen [Ral pa can], which means “the one with the long mane”17; he is said to have disliked cutting or washing his hair18. According to later Tibetan sources, in order to show his respect for religion, Relpachen wrapped his long braids in silk headbands, which the monks were made to sit on to his right, and the tantrists [sngags pa]19 to his left. Insofar as the monastic clergy is much more institutionalized than tantrist circles, and insofar as tantrists are associated with notions of transgression (to a fairly limited extent, as Nicolas Sihlé reminds us in this volume), in this image we can see the connecting of a “right-hand sacredness” (an instituting sacred) with a “left-hand sacredness” (a dissolution sacredness)—a duality evoked in relation to hair by Christian Bromberger in the present volume20.

  • 21 Personal communication from scholar Khenpo Tenkyong (42 years old, born in Golok), March 2016.
  • 22 Idem.
  • 23 Tucci (1956: 117) visited the ruins of this temple in 1948.

8Relpachen is not just known for the fervent Buddhist faith that later Tibetan texts attribute to him, but also for having successfully led military incursions. When his army approached the China-Tibet border as it then existed, he ordered the Tibetan populations, who did not look much different from their Chinese neighbors, to shave off the hair on the sides and back of their heads, in a kind of “bowl cut” style [skra khor lu ba], as a means of showing their allegiance to the Tibetan authorities21. This scene was immortalized on a thangka (scroll painting) exhibited in the nine-story temple Öngchangdo Lhakhang [’On cang rdo lha khang] in Ushang [U shang] (around 40 km west of Lhasa), founded by Relpachen himself22. Of course this painting no longer exists, nor does the original temple, which fell into ruins a long time ago23.

  • 24 According to Das et al. (1902: 795): “the hair dressed and tied in a round ball on the crown of the (...)

9According to a Tibetan legend, it was the hair of Relpachen’s brother King Langdarma [Glang dar ma, deceased 842] that inspired the hairstyle of the lay officials in the Tibetan government known as Ganden Phodrang (dGa’ ldan pho brang, founded in 1642). According to the legend sometimes repeated in the historiographic tradition, Langdarma is said to have persecuted Buddhist religion (first by having his brother assassinated), bringing about the fall of the Tibetan empire. People say that his tongue was black and he had horns on his head—demonic signs. In order to hide these, he grew his hair long, braided it, then tied the braids around his horns. To avoid kindling suspicion among the population, all of his ministers started braiding their hair and arranging it in the same way as Langdarma (Shakabpa, 2010: 164), thus giving rise to the famous distinctive pachok [spa lcog] hairstyle24.

ill. 1 – A Tibetan official in Lhasa wearing the pachok hairstyle

ill. 1 – A Tibetan official in Lhasa wearing the pachok hairstyle

Photo: Ernst Schäfer, 1938 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Bild 135-S-13-10-35 / Schäfer, Ernst / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons : https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-S-13-10-35,_Tibetexpedition,_Tibeter.jpg)

  • 25 Up to one hundred and sixty according to Duncan, 1964: 57. In the tantric context in ngakpa environ (...)
  • 26 Personal communication from Tashi Tsering, May 2016. To give only one example, Gönpo Namgyal [mGon (...)

10It may be noted more generally that there is a preference for attached hair, often in the form of braids, especially among women. In agricultural and urban areas in central Tibet, two braids seem to be the norm, but in eastern regions, the symbolic number one hundred and eight has been suggested, and the number can be even higher according to some accounts25. Most of the time, Tibetan women’s braids are carefully arranged and ornamented; they indicate a woman’s social status, the style of the region or tribe, but also reflect fashions of the time26.

ill. 2 – The wife of the minister Phünkhang wearing the patruk [spa phrug] hairstyle, the female equivalent of the pachok, Lhasa

ill. 2 – The wife of the minister Phünkhang wearing the patruk [spa phrug] hairstyle, the female equivalent of the pachok, Lhasa

Photo: Ernst Schäfer, 1938 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv collection, Bild 135-S-13-05-18 and Bild 135-S-13-05-28 / Schäfer, Ernst / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-S-13-05-18,_Tibetexpedition,_Frau_Ph%C3%BCnkhang_in_Tracht.jpg et https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-S-13-05-28,_Tibetexpedition,_Haarschmuck_Frau_Ph%C3%BCnkhangs.jpg)

  • 27 See Makley, 2007, Tshe dpal rdo rje et al., 2009 and Blo bzang tshe ring et al., 2012. See also Rob (...)
  • 28 For a very complete description of the stages of this celebration, see particularly Tshe dpal rdo r (...)
  • 29 Personal communication from Khenpo Tenkyong, March 2016.
  • 30 In Golok, it is ordinarily relatives, friends and neighbors who lend a hand to braid women’s hair ( (...)
  • 31 See also Tenzin, 2008: 35, for the treatment of the hair of brides in central Tibet.
  • 32 See Monsal Pekar, 2004 and Jamyang Kyi, 2014.

11In Amdo, before being allowed to wear these elaborate headdresses, girls must undergo a rite of passage that signals their sexual maturity. The most well-known of these rites (probably because it is the most studied) is called “letting down the hair” [skra phab]27. It is a very sophisticated prenuptial ceremony (called skra ston, “hair celebration”) that is always observed, and is organized by families when their daughters reach the age of sixteen or seventeen; in the past, it was possible for this celebration to take place when the daughter was thirteen. This celebration entails a certain cost, because the daughter must wear not only new, luxurious clothing, but also jewelry (some of which is attached to the headdress), not to mention the cost of inviting numerous villagers and relatives28. One of the rite’s central figures is the “hair-braiding woman”, tralama [skra sla ma], also called golema [mgo bslas ma] or “head-braiding woman” in Golok [mGo log]29. This officiant is also sought out during marriage preparations for the same function, that of preparing the bride’s hair. She is a particularly virtuous woman who has never cheated on her husband, has never had a miscarriage, and has no physical or mental illnesses; widows and divorcees are excluded from this role. In Golok, as a gesture of recognition, this women receives a reward, literally a “[for the] head meal” [mgo zas], sometimes from her own family, sometimes from her in-laws, respectively depending on whether the ceremony is prenuptial or nuptial30. These rites can of course vary from region to region, but it seems that female hair is subject to a specific, meticulous treatment everywhere31. On the other hand, there seems to be no equivalent for male hair, an imbalance that has recently been the subject of criticism by feminist Tibetan women. In their view, not only is the headdress of married women heavy to wear and therefore a daily burden, but it also clearly announces the women’s present marital status, symbolizing her dependence on a man32. For now, these few criticisms of the tradition do not seem to be bringing about any significant change in hair habits since, as Françoise Robin shows in the present volume, traditional criteria of beauty are enduring, and any variation, such as dying, is greeted with circumspection, even astonishment.

ill. 3 – The braiding of women’s hair in Golok

ill. 3 – The braiding of women’s hair in Golok

Photo: Emilia Sulek, 2010 (with her kind permission)

3. Hair ruptures

  • 33 Powers, 2004: 141. More generally, for Han men, having to shave the hair on their forehead and keep (...)

12Up until the early twentieth century, the hair of Tibetan men and women was primarily worn long. But Tibet’s opening to the outside world, and the occupations by the British on the one hand, and the Manchu and Chinese on the other, started to change hair habits. Manchu official Zhao Erfeng (1845-1911) was perhaps the first to try to assimilate Tibetans in Batang County in eastern Tibet, by ordering them to wear their hair in the Manchu style and adopt Chinese names33. But upon his departure, at the time when the People’s Republic of China was being created (1912), young Tibetans who had previously obeyed the order now regrew their hair in bobs, as remarked upon by the wife of missionary Albert Shelton, who lived there (1923: 175). In answer to a question she had asked, some young Tibetans answered: “Well, if China is still a republic, we’ll be able to say we haven’t cut our hair for a while, and if it turns into a monarchy, we’ll say we’re letting it grow” (ibid.).

13On the other side of Tibet in Gyantse [rGyal rtse], it was the British infantry’s trainers who tried to impose their short military haircut on the Tibetan army, but without much success it seems. In a letter written in 1921 by Captain Eric Parker to the thirteenth Dalai Lama (1875-1933) and his ministers, one reads the following:

  • 34 …dbyin lugs la ’dod pa’i rgyal khar rnams skra bcad tshar bas/ bod kyi zhi drag thad dang/ de min d (...)

Countries that follow the British tradition practice hair cutting. If Tibetans also want to become violent people [soldiers], they must cut their hair to conform to the British tradition. I appealed to the aristocrats Changchen Gung [lCang can gung] and Doring Theji [rDo ring tha’i ji] and asked them to obey, but they replied that this [style of] hair was a precious tradition of Tibet. It would therefore not be right to cut [their hair]. I am imploring the great Dalai Lama to immediately decree the obligation to cut one’s hair, and to say that I am going to translate the British military regulation manual into Tibetan34.

14However the reply, written six months later, stated:

  • 35 bod kyi zhi drag thams cad skra gcod dgos dbyin bod khyim gcig lta bur brten nang mar gsungs thad/ (...)

Concerning the request to cut everyone’s hair, civilians and soldiers alike, since the Tibetans and English are one single family: we will not cut it, because Tibet has a unique political system [based on a combination between the] religious [and the] secular, and [it] grants to religious [people], who are different from ordinary men, religious officials’ clothing as a sign of respect, and gives to laypeople a seal, a tiara on the head with an attached hat, signs and symbols of authority that earn them the nickname “haircut king”. Furthermore, I ask you to bear in mind that the aristocrats Dzasag Jamdrumpa (dza sag Byams brum pa) and Theji Gazhi (Tha’i ji dga’ bzhi), without having to cut their hair, once happily [participated as] students of the English war school in Gyantse [where they] studied and thoroughly learned military techniques and discipline35.

15In Lhasa, reactions were similar when a few progressive army majors cut their hair in the “British” style for the first time, or when Kunphela [Kun ’phel lags, 1905-1963] ordered his regiment to conform to the hair rules of the Western military. The Tibetan government ultimately decided to prohibit cutting hair, and the officials at fault were demoted by one rank (Goldstein, 1993: 121). Short or shaven hair was the privilege of monks and nuns, and at that time society was not quite ready to derogate from this. Furthermore, noblemen needed long braids to wear their pachok headdress, and to weave their reliquary [ga’u] into it, an emblem of their function and their superior social status. If deprived of their pachok, would this not have given the impression that they had been discharged from their post?

  • 36 More precisely 64 % of the male population and 49 % of the female population; Weiner, 2012: 410.
  • 37 Personal communication from Khenpo Tenkyong, March 2016.
  • 38 Tubten Khétsun, 2008: 169. Ironically: three decades later, the authorities at Drapchi [Grwa bzhi] (...)

16The real hair revolution arrived in Tibet with the Chinese communist army. From the 1950s, little by little, new authorities imposed their own hair regulations under the pretext that “long hair is reactionary and dirty” (Adhe Tapongtsang and Blakeslee, 1997: 196). Aristocrat and senior official Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme [Nga phod ngag dbang ’jigs med, 1910-2009], who was close to the Chinese communists, was the first of his rank to voluntarily cut his hair and abandon his traditional robe when he went to Beijing in May 1951 to sign the famous “Seventeen Point Agreement” under which the Tibetan government submitted to the authority of the People’s Republic of China. But on his way home, he was forced to acquire a wig to be able to wear his pachok and cross the border into central Tibet. The war against long hair, and by extension against Tibetan identity markers reminiscent of the pre-1951 period, intensified on the part of the Chinese, but in an uneven way across the different regions. In Tsékhok [rTse khog] in Amdo (Qinghai), it is reported that in late summer 1958, shortly after the great Tibetan revolt against “democratic reforms”, just over half of Tibetans “cut [their] braids [and] shaved [their] head”36. The father—then a young man—of a friend in Golok cut his braids and carefully stored them in a box, which he has kept to this day in nostalgic memory of old times37. In Kongpo, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in June 1966, a clean sweep was made of Tibetan hairstyles. This caused a great commotion: “there were women who cherished their hair to the point that they wept from the frustration of having to cut it... Then there were Red Guards who carried scissors with them to cut women’s hair as they pleased”, writes Tubten Khétsun38. Also in Beijing, when Red Guards stopped the tenth Panchen Lama (1938-1989) and his family in order to drag them into a big criticizing and denunciation meeting, that great religious dignitary’s sister-in-law Peyang came into the Chinese authorities’ line of sight, and her “hair was randomly and messily cut off” (Woeser, 2017).

  • 39 The same could be said of certain female politicians like Pasang [Pa sangs], the Vice-Chairwoman of (...)
  • 40 See, for example, afp, 2008 and Belga, 2014.

17Times have changed again and, since the tentative political liberalization of the 1980s, a return to long hair has been observable, at least among rural women and men, as well as artists, especially young poets and singers. As for urban men and public figures, working either for the government or in jobs requiring them to act as official representatives, wearing long hair is still a marker of ethnic identity, and is therefore strongly discouraged39. It is such that some writers use their hair as a metaphor to express their poetic and political feelings, as Charlene Makley and Donyol Dondrup show in their article in the present volume. Some exiled Tibetans have used head-shaving as a new political tool on the international stage, to express their solidarity with Tibetan protestors who were forcefully repressed after the 2008 uprising, or with those who have self-immolated in Tibet since 200940. Finally, forced shaving is still used to humiliate and bully so-called political “opponents”. During the summer of 2018, 130 pastoral nomads in Lhagang were arrested for protesting against the region’s new property laws. They were released a month later, but the authorities had shaved off the long hair of many of those men—hair that is often a source of great pride.

4. From secular hair to religious hair

18The articles assembled in this special issue of Les Ateliers d’anthropologie explore the treatment of hair and its representations in the Tibetan world from the perspective of several disciplines, including anthropology, literary studies, autobiographical essay-writing and native ethnography. Thematically, this volume begins with two articles on secular Tibetan hair, giving special attention to the political dimension of the message conveyed by hair length, and ends with two texts examining the religious dimension of the treatment of hair; these two parts are bridged by a description of a ritual, as experienced and observed by a Tibetan himself.

19In his introductory article, Christian Bromberger presents a general anthropological perspective on trichology, a theory that will be revisited in some of the subsequent articles.

20In the article that opens this volume, Françoise Robin scrutinizes contemporary Tibetan-language literature that deals with the subject of hair. In particular, she comments on a poem portraying a village scene that centers around a young daughter-in-law who goes to the city and gets her hair dyed blonde. In addition to describing female hair and its contemporary metamorphoses in connection with the rapid economic and social developments at work in Tibet under Chinese rule, this text includes a more theoretical, reflexive section that focuses on the heuristic contribution that data from literature makes as ethnographic material.

21In the next article, Charlene Makley and Donyol Dondrup present and comment on a translated extract from the hair-autobiography of a Tibetan activist intellectual and humorist, Menlha-kyap. This satirical text criticizes the hypocrisy and interference that the Chinese government and the defenders of the Tibetan traditional order direct at individuals who try to free themselves from convention, and presents part of Tibet’s political history since the 1970s through the author’s hair-incarnations.

22The third article is a native ethnography (it is worth mentioning that this is quite a rarity) that describes the “removal of the child’s impure hair” ritual, according to information collected by the author, Lhamokyab Noyontsang. The text is presented in a bilingual Tibetan and English version. It concludes the first section dedicated to secular hair.

23Nicola Schneider’s article examines the hair of Tibetan religious women, placing them in two opposite categories: shaven-headed nuns, and khandroma [mka’ ’gro ma], or “saints”, with full heads of hair. Whereas nuns sacrifice their hair as a sign of detachment from the world, the hair of a khandroma can be an offering, since it holds her magic power, for which it is a kind of substitute.

24In the final article, Nicolas Sihlé presents a substantial, nuanced ethnography of the long hair characteristic of tantrists in Repkong (north-west Tibet), subjecting it to a detailed anthropological reflection. He points out how certain normative positions differ from observed realities, and compares this data with the analytical framework proposed by Bromberger, making the particular suggestion that it would be advisable to supplement the principal lines of analysis highlighted by Bromberger with questions about the nature of hair: a nature that is sometimes hybrid, when the hair is a place of residence for external beings, for example divine ones. Unlike shaven monks, the identity of trantrists is rooted in this long hair, which is permeated with divine presence after they receive the hair consecration and make their dreadlocks.

  • 41 See for example the vocabulary relating to hair in Sanskrit highlighted by Mallmann (1986: 24) in h (...)
  • 42 Thus young people in rural areas have adopted some Chinese fashions originating from Japan or Korea (...)

25Many fields remain to be explored, beginning with iconography41, proverbs and chants that relate to hair. It would also be useful to make an inventory of Tibetan hairstyle and braid types before the memory of the elders disappears, and let us not forget the vocabulary connected with hair, which is so rich and varied in its different dialectical forms. Furthermore, migration to Chinese cities and to other countries is also having an influence on the hairstyles adopted by Tibetans today, an influence that remains to be studied42. Finally, the authors in this volume work mainly in eastern Tibet (Amdo and Kham). It would be wise to expand these results and compare them with hair customs in other parts of the Tibetan world, specifically central and western Tibet. Nevertheless, with this contribution, the editors of this volume hope to have shown how a detailed ethnography of hair in a given cultural context enriches trichological perspectives, broadening the discussion.

ill. 4 – A beggar with a very elaborate headdress

ill. 4 – A beggar with a very elaborate headdress
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Bibliographie

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Photo: Ernst Schäfer, 1938 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv collection, Bild 135-S-04-16-21 / Schäfer, Ernst / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-S-04-16-21,_Tibetexpedition,_Bettlerin.jpg)

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Notes

1 The editors of this issue would like to express their thanks to Cécile Ducher (cdat, ephe), Rachel Guidoni (iet) and Alice Travers (cnrs) for their help with organizing this conference, as well as the Institut national des langues et des civilisations orientales (inalco), the Centre de recherche sur les civilisations d’Asie orientale (crcao) and the Centre d’études himalayennes (ceh) for their financial support. We also wish to thank the anonymous readers at Les Ateliers d’anthropologie, who helped improve the articles.

2 For a general study of trichology, see Bromberger, 2010 and also the present volume.

3 The Tibetan terms are given here in their transliteration according to the (however improperly named) “Wylie scheme”; they are sometimes preceded by their phonetic transcription.

4 Beards (rgya) could constitute another very interesting subject, but will not be dealt with here.

5 To our knowledge, the only articles and books that explore hair in the Tibetan area are: Bogin, 2008; Tshe dpal rdo rje et al., 2009; Blo bzang tshe ring et al., 2012. The Dictionnaire thématique français-tibétain du tibétain parlé, vol. 1 (Blondeau et al., 2002: 58-65) contains a specific entry that lists a large number of expressions surrounding the term “hair”.

6 Skra bzhar nas tshes grangs blta; Lhamo Pemba, 1996: 14.

7 Personal communication from Drugyal, September 2011.

8 See also Duncan, 1964: 184.

9 Personal communication from Ani Dawa, February 2016.

10 With the exception, of course, of hair and nails from holy people, which constitute relics: see Tulku Thondup, 2011.

11 Personal communication from Norbu, August 2015, born in the Lhasa region. See also Gouin, 2010: 76-77.

12 See Thubten Sangay, [1984] 2011: 56. Unfortunately, the author does not specify the exact ritual in question.

13 Loseries, [1993] 2008: 181-182. For another instance of hair incineration separate from the treatment of the rest of the body, see Sihlé in the present volume.

14 Personal communication from Norbu, August 2015, born in the Lhasa region.

15 Many thanks to Kunsang Lama and his father.

16 Ma bu mo tshang gi skra ring yang blo thung; thanks to Françoise Robin for providing me with this reference.

17 However, it should be added that the title “Relpachen” was already standard in pre-Buddhist Tibetan mythology; see Tucci, 1949: 583.

18 See Shakabpa, 2010: 160 and bDud ’joms ’jigs bral ye shes rdo rje, 1978: 250.

19 See, for example, Geshe Lhundup Sopa, 1983: 114.

20 See also Bromberger, 2010: 181-182. The idea of an opposition between right-hand sacredness and left-hand sacredness was originally developed by the College of Sociology (Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois and Michel Leiris).

21 Personal communication from scholar Khenpo Tenkyong (42 years old, born in Golok), March 2016.

22 Idem.

23 Tucci (1956: 117) visited the ruins of this temple in 1948.

24 According to Das et al. (1902: 795): “the hair dressed and tied in a round ball on the crown of the head of the civil officers of Tibet” [drung ’khor gyi skra sphyi bor rdog rdog byas te sdam pa].

25 Up to one hundred and sixty according to Duncan, 1964: 57. In the tantric context in ngakpa environments, one also hears of one hundred braids (see Sihlé in the present issue).

26 Personal communication from Tashi Tsering, May 2016. To give only one example, Gönpo Namgyal [mGon po rnam rgyal, 1799-1865] of Nyarong [Nyag rong] introduced a new hairstyle to Kham, called btags skra or “attached hair” (Tashi Tsering, 1985: 214).

27 See Makley, 2007, Tshe dpal rdo rje et al., 2009 and Blo bzang tshe ring et al., 2012. See also Robin, in the present volume.

28 For a very complete description of the stages of this celebration, see particularly Tshe dpal rdo rje et al., 2009.

29 Personal communication from Khenpo Tenkyong, March 2016.

30 In Golok, it is ordinarily relatives, friends and neighbors who lend a hand to braid women’s hair (Emilia Sulek, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, personal communication, May 2016).

31 See also Tenzin, 2008: 35, for the treatment of the hair of brides in central Tibet.

32 See Monsal Pekar, 2004 and Jamyang Kyi, 2014.

33 Powers, 2004: 141. More generally, for Han men, having to shave the hair on their forehead and keep a braid was a symbol of the Manchu’s repression of the Han during the Qing Dynasty (see Godley, 1994).

34 …dbyin lugs la ’dod pa’i rgyal khar rnams skra bcad tshar bas/ bod kyi zhi drag thad dang/ de min drag po’i phyag las gnang ngan rnams dbu skra ma sbag na dbyin lugs nang bzhin mi yong bas bod kyi sku drag lcang can gung dang/ rdo ring tha’i ji gnyis la zhus par skra ‘di bod kyi ‘gro lugs rtsa chen po yin lugs gsung te nyan gyi mi ‘dug pa tA la’i bla ma chen pos skra gcod dgos pa’i bka’ khyab phral du yod pa dang/ dmag khrims deb ther bod yig tu bsgyur gi yin gsung bas zhus chog zhus yod…, extract from Eric Parker’s letter to the thirteenth Dalai Lama and his ministers, dated the 15th day of the 4th Tibetan month, 1921. Eric Parker fonds, University of British Columbia, Museum of Anthropology archives. Thanks to Tashi Tsering for making me aware of the existence of this letter, as well as for getting me copies of both the letter and the reply. I also wish to thank Lobsang Tsering for transcribing the cursive letters into dbu can, printed letters.

35 bod kyi zhi drag thams cad skra gcod dgos dbyin bod khyim gcig lta bur brten nang mar gsungs thad/ bod ljongs chos srid gnyis ldan yin gshis mi rigs phal pa rnams dang mi ‘dra ba’i gzhung zhabs ser mo bar gos stod dang/ skya bor bka’ rtags spyi bo’i cod paN skra lcog bcas zengs bstod gnang ba ‘di dag skya bo’i skra gcod rgyal po’i mtshan rtags dang rten ‘brel du btub min ma zad/ de lnga rgyal rtser dbyin lugs dmag rtsed slob ma’i bod skyi mi drag dza sag brum pa ba dang/ tha’i ji dga’ bzhi gnyis bcas rigs med sa ra lam mi drag rnams kyang skra gcod ma dgos pa’i thog dmag rtsed/ dmag khrims sogs legs par shes pa’i slob sbyong dam don yod pa dgongs ’jag zhu/…, extract from the reply sent to Eric Parker by the Dalai Lama and his ministers, dated the 15th day of the 10th Tibetan month, 1921.

36 More precisely 64 % of the male population and 49 % of the female population; Weiner, 2012: 410.

37 Personal communication from Khenpo Tenkyong, March 2016.

38 Tubten Khétsun, 2008: 169. Ironically: three decades later, the authorities at Drapchi [Grwa bzhi] prison prohibited politically imprisoned nuns from cutting their hair; see Barnett, 2005: 344.

39 The same could be said of certain female politicians like Pasang [Pa sangs], the Vice-Chairwoman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region (Barnett, 2005: 312), who wears medium-length hair, or Dekyi Drolkar [bDe skyid sgrol dkar], the Deputy Mayor of Lhasa (ibid. : 307), who opted for short hair, at least for part of the 1990s.

40 See, for example, afp, 2008 and Belga, 2014.

41 See for example the vocabulary relating to hair in Sanskrit highlighted by Mallmann (1986: 24) in his study on the tantrist iconography; I would like to thank Mireille Helffer for this reference.

42 Thus young people in rural areas have adopted some Chinese fashions originating from Japan or Korea, despite their very different hair texture.

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Table des illustrations

Titre ill. 1 – A Tibetan official in Lhasa wearing the pachok hairstyle
Crédits Photo: Ernst Schäfer, 1938 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Bild 135-S-13-10-35 / Schäfer, Ernst / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons : https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-S-13-10-35,_Tibetexpedition,_Tibeter.jpg)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ateliers/docannexe/image/10799/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Titre ill. 2 – The wife of the minister Phünkhang wearing the patruk [spa phrug] hairstyle, the female equivalent of the pachok, Lhasa
Crédits Photo: Ernst Schäfer, 1938 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv collection, Bild 135-S-13-05-18 and Bild 135-S-13-05-28 / Schäfer, Ernst / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-S-13-05-18,_Tibetexpedition,_Frau_Ph%C3%BCnkhang_in_Tracht.jpg et https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-S-13-05-28,_Tibetexpedition,_Haarschmuck_Frau_Ph%C3%BCnkhangs.jpg)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ateliers/docannexe/image/10799/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 356k
Titre ill. 3 – The braiding of women’s hair in Golok
Crédits Photo: Emilia Sulek, 2010 (with her kind permission)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ateliers/docannexe/image/10799/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 272k
Titre ill. 4 – A beggar with a very elaborate headdress
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ateliers/docannexe/image/10799/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 220k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Nicola Schneider, « Introduction: Hair in Tibetan Culture », Ateliers d'anthropologie [En ligne], 45 | 2018, mis en ligne le 20 novembre 2018, consulté le 12 décembre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ateliers/10799 ; DOI : 10.4000/ateliers.10799

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Auteur

Nicola Schneider

Chercheuse associée CRCAO-UMR8155, Collège de France/EPHE/Université Paris Diderot/CNRS
schneidernicola@hotmail.com

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