Sharchops

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Sharchop
Total population
212,500
Regions with significant populations
Eastern Bhutan (Lhuntse, Trashiyangtse, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar)
Southwestern China (Tibet)
Northeastern India (Assam)
Languages
Tshangla · Monpa language · Dzongkha
Religion
Buddhism · Bön
Related ethnic groups
Monpa · Ngalop · Tibetan People

Sharchop (Dzongkha: ཤར་ཕྱོགས་; Wylie: shar-phyogs; "easterner") is a collective term for the populations of mixed Tibetan and Southeast Asian descent that live in the eastern districts of Bhutan.

Ethnicity[edit]

The Sharchops are an Indo-Mongoloid people who migrated from Assam, or possibly Burma, c. 1200 – c. 800 BC.[1] Van Driem (1993) indicates that the Sharchops are closely related to the Monpa people (Menba), and that both are descendants of the indigenous pre-Tibetan (pre-Dzongkha) peoples of Bhutan. Due to the societal prominence and political power of Dzongkha-speaking Bhutanese, however, Sharchops are marginalized (and sometimes persecuted) in Bhutan.[2] The Sharchops are the largest ethnic group in Bhutan[3][4]

Population[edit]

The Sharchops comprise most of the population of eastern Bhutan, a country whose total population in 2010 was approximately 708,500.[5] Although they have long been the largest single ethnic group in Bhutan, the Sharchop have been largely assimilated into the culturally and politically dominant Tibetan-Ngalop culture.[6] Together, the Ngalop, Sharchop, and tribal groups constituted up to 72 percent of the population in the late 1980s, according to official Bhutanese statistics.[6][7] The 1981 census claimed that Sharchops represented 30% of the population, and Ngalops approximately 17%.[8] The CIA Factbook, however, estimates that the "Bhote" Ngalop and Sharchop ethnic groups together comprise approximately 50% of Bhutan's population, at 354,200 people.[5] Assuming Sharchops still outnumber Ngalops at a 3:2 ratio, the total population of Sharchops in Bhutan is approximately 212,500.

Language[edit]

Most Sharchops speak Tshangla, a Tibeto-Burman language; fewer speak Monpa languages.[9] They also learn the national language, Dzongkha. Because of their proximity to India, some speak Assamese or Hindi.

Tshangla is also spoken by the Monpa (Menba) national minority across the border in China, where it is classified as a branch of Monpa, distributed in Mêdog, Nyingchi and Dirang. Tshangla is similar to the language of the Kalaktang Monpa.

Lifestyle[edit]

Sharchop peoples practice slash-and-burn and tsheri agriculture, planting dry rice crops for three or four years until the soil is exhausted and then moving on,[6] however the practice has been officially banned in Bhutan since 1969.[10][11]

Religion[edit]

Most Sharchops follow Tibetan Buddhism with some elements of Bön, although those who live in the Duars follow Animism.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Culture of Bhutan". Countries and Their Cultures. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1999 - Bhutan". United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. 1 January 1999. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  3. ^ van Driem, George L. (1993). "Language Policy in Bhutan" (PDF). London: SOAS. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  4. ^ van Driem, George (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill. p. 915 et seq. 
  5. ^ a b Bhutan entry at The World Factbook
  6. ^ a b c d 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Bhutan Backgrounder". SATP online. South Asia Terrorism Portal. 2002-09-20. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  9. ^ "Languages of Bhutan". Ethnologue Online. Dallas: SIL International. 2006. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  10. ^ Robert L. Worden. "Farming". 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.
  11. ^ "Shifting Cultivation in Bhutan: A Gradual Approach to Modifying Land Use Patterns". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations online. FAO. 1987. Retrieved 2011-03-13.