Ngalop

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Ngalop
Total population
141,700
Regions with significant populations
Western and Northern Bhutan (Thimphu, Gasa, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Haa, Paro, Chukha)
Languages
Dzongkha
Religion
Buddhism · Bön
Related ethnic groups
Tibetan · Monpa · Sharchop

The Ngalop (Dzongkha: སྔ་ལོང་; Wylie: snga-long; "earliest risen" or "first converted" according to folk etymology)[1] are people of Tibetan origin who migrated to Bhutan as early as the ninth century. For this reason, they are often referred to in literature as "Bhote" (people of Bhotia/Bhutia or Tibet). The Ngalop introduced Tibetan culture and Buddhism to Bhutan and comprised the dominant political and cultural element in modern Bhutan. Furthermore, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic identity in Bhutan are not always mutually exclusive. For these reasons, Ngalops are often simply identified as Bhutanese. Their language, Dzongkha, is the national language and is descended from Old Tibetan. The Ngalop are dominant in western and northern Bhutan, including Thimphu and the Dzongkha-speaking region. The term Ngalop may subsume several related linguistic and cultural groups, such as the Kheng people and speakers of Bumthang language.[1][2][3]

Orientalists historically called them the "Bhote," meaning they were from "Bhotia," or Tibet. This term was also applied to the Tibetan people, leading to confusion, and now is rarely used in reference to the Ngalop.

Population[edit]

The Ngalop are concentrated in the western and central valleys of Bhutan, whose total population in 2010 was about 708,500.[4] Together the Ngalop, Sharchop, and tribal groups constituted up to 72 percent of the population in the late 1980s according to official Bhutanese statistics.[2][5] The 1981 census claimed Sharchops represented 30% of the population, and Ngalops about 17%.[6] The CIA Factbook, however, estimates the "Bhote" Ngalop and Sharchop populations together to total about 50 percent, or 354,200.[4] Assuming Sharchops still outnumber Ngalops some three to two, the total Ngalop population is around 141,700.

Language[edit]

Ngalops speak Dzongkha. As Ngalops are politically and culturally dominant in Bhutan, Dzongkha is the language of government and education throughout the kingdom. Other groups that identify as culturally Ngalop speak the Kheng and Bumthang languages. To a large extent, even the Sharchops of eastern Bhutan, who speak Tshangla, have adopted Ngalop culture and may identify as Ngalop.[1][2][2][7]

Religion[edit]

Ngalops largely follow Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the Drukpa Kagyu school that is the state religion of Bhutan. A significant number also follow the Nyingma school, dominant in early Bhutanese history. Religion among Ngalops, like most Bhutanese, is characterized by elements of the older Bön religion incorporated into Buddhism.[2][8]

Lifestyle[edit]

The primary agricultural crops are mountain rice, potatoes, barley, and other temperate climate crops. Ngalop people build houses out of timber, stone, clay, and brick. The Ngalop are also known for building large fortress-monasteries known as dzongs that now serve as government offices. The king of Bhutan and most of the government are Ngalop, and all citizens of the country are required to follow the national dress code, the driglam namzha, which is Ngalop in origin.[2][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c van Driem, George L. (1993). "Language Policy in Bhutan" (PDF). London: SOAS. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Robert L. Worden. "Ethnic Groups". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Robert L. Worden. "Introduction". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ a b Bhutan entry at The World Factbook
  5. ^ Robert L. Worden. "Society". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ "Bhutan Backgrounder". SATP online. South Asia Terrorism Portal. 2002-09-20. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  7. ^ Robert L. Worden. "Languages". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Robert L. Worden. "Religious Tradition". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ Robert L. Worden. "Housing". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.