Matters of History

Michael Hutt

in Unbecoming Citizens

Published in print August 2005 | ISBN: 9780195670608
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081806 | DOI:
Matters of History

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This chapter discusses the history of Bhutan and the history of Nepali migration to Bhutan. The author describes how the refugees use the terms umbho (‘above’) and undho (‘below’) to distinguish between the northern, higher-altitude, politically dominant, culturally Drukpa region, and the southern, lower-altitude, politically subordinate, culturally Nepali region. The author describes the history of Bhutan as beginning with the advent of Buddhism, and particularly of the Drukpa sub-order of the Kagyü School which came to prevail in Bhutan’s western valleys in the twelfth century. The author cites the seventh century as the beginning of Nepali migration to Nepal, and how this early date is cited by refugees to claim legitimacy in Bhutan. The author also describes the relationship between the kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan over the centuries. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the presence of Lhotshampa in Bhutan became politically problematic even though they have always believed that they migrated in a ‘civilizing role’ to Bhutan.

Keywords: Bhutan; Nepal; umbho; undho; Kagyu School; Nepali settlers; Lhotshampa; Drupka sub-order of Buddhism

Chapter.  7401 words. 

Subjects: Migration Studies

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