Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


The Changes to the Rite of Passage
in the Amdo Area of Tibet:
A Case Study in Bod Skor Village


Department of Regional Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies,
SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies)

Key words:

Tibetan, Amdo, Bod Skor Village, Rite of Passage, transformation

The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss the changes to the “rite of passage” in Bod Skor Village, in the Amdo area of Tibet i.e. Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province, China.

Recently, there has been a remarkable renaissance of Buddhist belief in the Amdo area of Tibet, which also impacts on local folk beliefs. I have conducted research on the yearly grand harvest rituals, such as the Klu Rol Festival in Bod Skor Village, and demonstrated that the details of rituals, which are seen as important in local society, have transformed. This paper shows that, as well as these yearly rituals, individuals’ rites of passage have also been greatly altered.

The paper comes to two main conclusions. First, the rites of passage have been affected by the renaissance of Tibetan Buddhism in ways such as increased abstention from killing, a change in the ritual food toward Buddhist cuisine, and also alterations to the adornments used for the initiation rite. Second, along with the transformation of ritual, there has also been a change to the identity of people in Bod Skor Village, those called Dordo by other Tibetans and identified as Tu by the Chinese government, with their ethnic consciousness of themselves as Tibetans now strengthened.

This paper aims to promote a better understanding of cultural transformation in Amdo, Tibet by showing it at the micro-level and analyzing it.