Wambule language

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Native speakers
14,000 (2011 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3wme

Wambule (/ˈwɑːmbl/; Nepali: वाम्बुले, romanized: Vāmbule) is the language of the Wambule Rai, one of the Kiranti (किरान्ती) tribes of eastern Nepal. Wambule is spoken by more than 5000 people living around the confluence of the Sunkosi (सुनकोसी) and Dudhkosi (दूधकोसी) rivers near Kui-Bhir Hill. The Wambule-speaking area comprises the southernmost part of Okhaldhunga district, the westernmost part of Khotang district, the northernmost part of Udayapur district, and the northeasternmost part of Sindhuli district.


Ethnologue records numerous other names that are used for this language. They include Ambule, Caurasia, Chaurasia, Chaurasya, Chourase, Chourasia, Ombule, Radu Yor, Tsaurasya, Umbule, Vambucauras Raduyor, Vambule, Vambule Radu Yor, and Vambule Yor.[3] The Wambule use several native and Nepali names to designate their language, such as 'Vāmbucaurās Rāḍuyor', 'Caurāsiā', 'Ombule', 'Umbule' and 'Vāmbule'. The language most closely related to Wambule is the western neighbour Jero.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Wambule is spoken in the following villages of Nepal (Ethnologue).

  • Wamdyal dialect (in southern Okhaldhunga District, Sagarmatha Zone): Rikdum, Fokul, Wamdyal (Ubu), Huku, Balachokfu, Ghiramdi, Simkaku, Peku, Tarkomdada, Rinuwal, Dhepti, Khachapu, Dhaircaur, Khayapu, Lorphe, Thulacaur, Moli, Vaksa, Leva, Sinju, Gairigau, Dhemdalu, Kopsepu, Phasku, and Serankhu
  • Hilepane dialect (in southern Okhaldhunga District, Sagarmatha Zone): Pipale, Bhadare, Hilepani, Thakle, Mandhare, Sokma Tar, Dundunma, Jakma, Jerun, Ricuva, and Lambole
  • Udayapur dialect (in southern Okhaldhunga District, Sagarmatha Zone): Udayapur, Phedigau, Barasi,
  • Jhappali dialect (in western Khotang District, Sagarmatha Zone): Kurleghat, Majhkhani, Byanditar, Rupatar, Kharka, Cuvabot, Jhapa, Lurkhudada, Vaitar, Balui, Thumka, Pakauci, Goviar, Gurdum, Jayaram Gha, Bahuni Dada, Todke, Limlun, Damli, Vetagau, and Temtuku
  • Udaypur dialect (in northern Udayapur District, Sagarmatha Zone, and northeastern Sindhuli District, Janakpur Zone): Lekhani, Ghurmi, Salle, Sorun, Salleni, Pallo Salleni, Sindure, Majhkhani, Bhirpani, Kusumtar, and Jortighat


Gaṇeś Rāī (VS 2055: 8-9) claims that four different Wambule dialects can be distinguished:[4]

  • The Wamdyal dialect is spoken in the Mānebhanjyāṅ Village Development Committee of Okhalḍhuṅgā district, in the area situated roughly to the west of the Paṅkhu Kholā to the east of the Rūmdū Kholā, to the north of the Dūdhkosī river and to the south to the village of Ketukebhanjyāṅ. The Wambule capital village of Wamdyal (which is presently known in Nepali as 'Ubu', 'Uṃbu', 'Ũbu' or 'Uvu') is situated at an altitude of about 1730 metres.
  • The Udaipure dialect is spoken in Okhalḍhuṅgā district in a small area along the upper course of the Rūmdū Kholā, just east to the bazaar of Mānebhanjyāṅ. Main village is Udaypur.
  • The Hilepāne dialect is spoken in two neighbouring districts. Hilepāne proper is situated in Okhalḍhuṅgā district, to the west of the Rūmdū Kholā, to the east of the Bhāḍāre Kholā, to the north of the Sunkosī and Dūdhkosī rivers and to south of the village of Mānebhanjyāṅ. The main village of Hilepānī is situated at an altitude of about 900 metres. A form of Hilepāne that is said to be influenced by Jero is spoken in Udaypur district, in the area situated to the southwest of the Sunkosī river, to the east of the Bahādur Kholā and to the north of the mouth of the Nibuvā Kholā. The village of Salle is situated at an altitude of about 1200 metres.
  • The Jhāppālī dialect is spoken in Khoṭāṅ district in the area to the west of the Dõthe Kholā and the village of Dāmlī, to the east of the Sunkosī river, to the north of the Khahare Kholā and to the south of the Dūdhkosī river. The main village of Jhāpā is situated at an altitude of about 1270 metres.

Ethnologue lists the dialects Bonu, Wamdyal, Udaipure, Hilepane, and Jhappali, and notes that they appear to be mutually intelligible.


According to legend, there was no earth at the beginning of time. There was only a single aqueous orb. The gods called in the help of seven suns to dry up the aqueous orb. After stones had become visible, termites made a mound of mud. Then insects, seedlings and birds were created. After the creation of the earth, the gods thought of creating the primordial living being. They created a human made of gold. When they tried to make it say things, the human could not utter a single sentence. The gods made many attempts and used different kinds of golden metals, but all these creatures failed to speak. In the end, the gods created a human made of a mixture of bird's dung and ashes. This human was able to speak, but it spoke so badly that the gods became angry and cursed it by inflicting mortality upon it and its kind. The Wambule say that the proof that a human is made of dung and ashes is given by the bad odour emitted by rubbing one's body.


According to Gaṇeś Rāī, the Wambule tribe is named after one of their kings called Vāṅbu, who is also commonly known as Vāṅbāhāṅg ‘king Vāṅbā’. His subjects were known as Vāmbule and his domain was called Vāmdyāl or Vām Dyāl (Vām Village).[5] Candra Bahādur Rāī also claims that the tribe is named after Waŋbu, one of the tribe's most important hwaŋpo ‘king’. This king, or rather chief, is said to rule over an area comprising the southern part of the present-day district of Okhalḍhuṅgā some time prior to the unification of Nepal under Pṛthvī Nārāyaṇ Śāh, King of Gorkhā, and his successors.[citation needed]

Religious groups[edit]

According to Opgenort, Wambule society can be divided into three religious groups. A distinction is made between the Jagat, the representative of the generally accepted religious beliefs, and the two sects called Santa-Bhes and Hwam. These two sects have more or less abolished the old tradition of paying respect to the deities and spirits, which have been replaced by the most important Hindu gods. However, the influence of Hinduism has also reached the Jagat, who worship Hindu gods beside their native deities and spirits. The Wambule also celebrate the Hindu festivals, which are national happenings throughout Nepal, such as daśaĩ and tihār.[6][7]


  1. ^ Wambule at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Wambule". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "Wambule". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  4. ^ Rāī, Gaṇeś. "Ollo Kirāt: Vāmbule Rāī jātibāre saṃkṣipta adhyayan". Libju-Bhumju. 10: 8–9.
  5. ^ Rāī, Gaṇeś. "Ollo Kirāt: Vāmbule Rāī jātibāre saṃkṣipta adhyayan". Libju-Bhumju. 10: 3–10.
  6. ^ Opgenort, Jean Robert Matheus Leonard (2002). The Wāmbule Language: grammar, lexicon, texts and cultural survey of a Rai-Kiranti tribe of Eastern Nepal. Amsterdam: Leiden University (PhD thesis). ISBN 9080715816.
  7. ^ Opgenort, Jean Robert Matheus Leonard (2004). A Grammar of Wambule. Grammar, Lexicon, Texts and Cultural Survey of a Kiranti Tribe of Eastern Nepal. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill. ISBN 90-04-13831-5.

Further reading[edit]

  • Opgenort, Jean Robert Matheus Leonard. 2007. ‘About Chaurasia’, pp. 203–224 in Linguistics of the Himalayas and Beyond. Roland Bielmeier, Felix Haller, eds. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Rāī, Avināth. Vāmbule Rāī Śabdakoś. Lalitpur: Vāmbule Samāj Nepāl.

Coordinates: 27°10′37″N 86°25′56″E / 27.17708°N 86.43219°E / 27.17708; 86.43219