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The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities Lham Dorji 2005-12

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 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities*
Lham Dorji
Social roles and political power of various kheng nobilities
like Dung (gDung), Khoche, Gadpo (rgad-po) and Ponpo
(dpon-po) of medieaval Bhutan declined especially after many
social and political reforms initiated by the Third King in the
early 1950s. This landmark reform abolished serfdom which
then prevailed all over the country. These noble families did
not enjoy social ascendancy or respect of the past and their
noble ancestral claims were cast aside as anachronistic past
as the country progressed through several reforms of the
successive monarchs. Modern education has further
diminished knowledge about them and only a few
descendants know a little about their lineages. Until now,
research on this subject has appeared almost
insurmountable, as available literatures are either lost or
inaccessible. The old people are the only reliable sources of
information who transmit information orally if they can
remember anything.
In absence of any scholarship  on the  subject,  this article
I have relied heavily on oral sources to write this article. Many
people have made their invaluable contribution, directly and
indirectly. I want to first thank Karma Ura, Karma Galay, Dorji
Penjore, Tashi Choden, Chhimi Dem, Tshering Phuntsho and all my
colleagues in the Centre. Meme Chepon Tashi Namgay, Meme
Tshampa, Meme Thinley Dorji, Aila Penden, Aila Dechen, Lama
Jangba, Meme Penden Dorji, Meme Zotho and others were some of
the 'living libraries' who helped me to write this article. This is an
abridged version of the paper presented in the Fifth Colloquium on
Tangible and Intangible Culture organized by National Museum of
Bhutan, Paro, in February 2005.
Researcher, the Centre for Bhutan Studies'
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
draws heavily on the oral sources to construct a rough
hi(story), and shed some light on the subject. Where
available, literary sources were referred. This discrete
chronicle does not focus on one topic, but explores various
themes that are related to the nobility.
Decline of Kheng Nobilities
Families of dung, ponpo, khoche and gadpo in kheng enjoyed
immense social, political and religious dominance in the
region until some powerful religious lineages or 'aristocratic
families' called choje (lords of religion) emerged to countervail
them during the pre-17th century. These families were
confined to their own territorial space and were not
necessarily unified. But some inter-marriages took place
among them and they often joined their small forces against
their common local hegemony and rival elites. Zhabdrung
Rinpoche's arrival in 1616 further changed their social and
functional dominance. Emergence of the centralised state
gradually degraded their power since the theocratic state
found it difficult to function efficiently amidst contending
noble families. It was crucial for the state to prevail over
territorial rulers and unite them under one central rule. The
unification process resulted in military campaign in the
eastern and central regions led by Tongsa Penlop Chogyal
Minjur Tenpa (1613-1680) and Lama Namsey Dorji. The
government forces defeated the local elites of Kheng along
with many other petty rulers in eastern and central Bhutan
who were forced to conform to the new political regime though
they were not seriously weakened. It was important for the
state not to deprive them of their privileges completely in
order to obtain their consent to the changing social and
political institutions. Their subjections were acknowledged
through an oath of loyalty to Drukpa state and government.
The state distributed to them statues of Zhabdrung Rinpoche
to recognize them as Zhabdrung's privileged subjects. These
statues are preserved now in many of the nobles' houses.
The expansion of the central authority, however, did not
absolutely eliminate them as a socio-political force, until the
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
third king abolished the slavery system in 1950s. The
nobilities continued to dominate the public affairs and
collected revenue for the government. They also made the
Mon villagers to toil on dung's manor farms for some specific
months and pay tax in kind. The government allowed such
informal subordination of the monpas to extent that it did not
bear too strongly on the state function. Until recent period,
the nobles monopolized the hereditary post of the gup and
took over some administrative roles and religious
Consolidation of power transformed them spiritually from
pre-Buddhist faith to Buddhism. The practice of pre-Buddhist
faith was indispensable because honouring and propitiating
gods of heavens was a spiritual means of exerting their noble
ancestry, and hence guaranteeing the respect of the
community. Spread of Buddhism in the region on the one
hand and their aspirations to maintain their spiritual
superiority encouraged them to become patrons (dbyin bdag)
of many Buddhist luminaries who visited Kheng.
Contended Origin of Kheng Nobilities
'Dung' refers to the patrilineal noble families of Bumthang,
Kheng and Kurtoe. The term was used either as a title of an
adult male noble or referred to a noble's household. According
to various written sources,1 dung nobilities in kheng spread
from Ura Dung Nagpo (ura gdung gnag po) believed to have
descended from the sky.2 Guse Langling alias Lhagon Pelchen
ruled Ura and adjoining places for many years. His son Dung
Nagpo Dragpa Wangchuk continued to rule the domain but
he died without any heir. His reincarnation, Lhawang Dragpa
was born in Yarlung Drongmoche in Central Tibet and was
later ennobled as Ura Dung. Chume Dung, Domkhar Dung,
Dur Dung and Gyatsa Dung were the descendants of his
legitimate sons from Chokor Ashi Drenzom. While visiting his
landed estates in kheng to collect annual taxes, he fathered a
son called Nima Wangyal through an extramarital affair with
Ponmo Tashi Wangmo. The noble son then became the main
progenitor   of Nyakhar   Dung  and  other   dung  lineages  in
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
The origin of dung discussed by John Ardussi (2004:60-72)
proves contrary to the ancestral myths of dung described in
the other Bhutanese sources. By Ardussi's theory, the Gdung
were not primarily an aboriginal people of Bhutan, but rather
a somewhat scattered 'southern' (Ch. Lho-pa) population
occupying the highlands of south-central Tibet, from Phari in
the west to Lhobrak in the east, living of the land and by
hunting. Branch families may have inhabited parts of
Bhutan, but they were not the main body.3 Aris (1979)
conversely ascertained that the term 'dung' was associated
with Lhasay Tsangma's descendants in 12th century, before
Gelugpa's invasion of the dung-reng and lho-dung in South
Tibet who fled to Bhutan and Tawang only in 14th Century.
The rGyal-rigs (f lib) records a local tradition concerning two
'important clans' (rus che-ba) in the west, the rGyal-dung of
Apa-grop and gDung- T)rog of Thimphu, both of whom
descended from a son of Prince Tsangma. It is only... 'clan'.
No one seems to remember the rGyal-gdung and gDung-'brog
today, though a motley group of jungle -dwellers living far to
the south of sPagro are still called the gDung (Aris, 1979).
Khoches were the noble families of lower kheng who were
dominant in areas close to Assam and Bengal. At this stage, it
is impossible to explain if khoches of Bhutan shared blood
kinship with lost tribes of Khen and Khoch in Assam and
Bengal. There was a significant trade relationship between
khengpas and Indians. During winter seasons the people of
hill had to migrate to the plains with their goats and sheep.
Khengpas were known for their excellence in warfare and
statecraft. A Khen chief established a dynasty in Kamata
(kamrupa) by virtue of his courage and skill. We have
evidence of three kheng kings of this dynasty who ruled
Kamrupa (Kamta). According to Pelgen and Rigden (2000),
Khoches of kheng once ruled the Assamese provinces of
Kokabari, Rangapani and Gohali.4 Whether the khoches
mentioned by these authors were the descents of Khen
dynasty of Kamta needs to be ascertained.   Local tradition
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
holds that Khoches were the direct descendants of Lhasey
Tsangma, a grandson of Tibetan king Thrisong Deutsen.
Lhasey Tsangma came to Bhutan in the 9th century. This can
be substantiated by the fact that the descendants of this
prince established Byar-pa5 families in Kheng Joka and
Ngangla where khoches were based. I would hypothesize that
Byar-pa families in Joka and Ngangla once ruled the khen
and koch tribes of the plains. Through this association Byar-
pa families came to be known as Joka and Ngangla khoches.
Dakpai, Kikhar Jang, Tali and Buli Ponpos were another
group of noble families who dominated the middle kheng. It is
unlikely that these families descended from dung nobility
though local tradition traces their ancestors to dung families.
They should be considered a different group of nobilities,
otherwise it would not justify the titles being different. This
category of noble family could have existed as early as dung's
historical origin in kheng or even earlier. One plausible
hypothesis is that this nobility originated far back to Lhasey
Tsangma's period. It is mentioned in Gyalrig that Lhasey
Tsangma passed through Kheng Tali and Buli while on his
route to Jamkhar. Known for his royal ancestry, wealthy local
families would have hosted the prince. If so, these families
would have been later distinguished as 'ponpo' to recognize
their association with the prince (locally called 'pon). Kikhar
and Dakpai were two other villages where ponpos lived, but
mention of these places is not made in Gyalrig. However, it is
possible that Lhasey Tsangma passed through them as these
places fall on the lateral route to Tali, and the name Kikhar
may have originated from Lhasey Tsangma's concept of 'khar'
or Dzong which are prevalent in eastern Bhutan.
The title 'ponmo' had been given to Ura Dung Dragpa
Wangchuk's mistress Tashi Wangmo of Kheng Nyakhar. It is
difficult to determine if she had been thus titled even before
her affair with Ura Dung. Local tradition holds that Lhasey
Tsangma visited Nyakhar. It was he who named the place
Nya-khar locally meaning T)reak of day'. He prophesized that
a man from Bumthang would bring in power and prosperity
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
to the host family just like the breaking of dawn.6 The man of
the prophecy could have been Ura Dung Dragpa Wangchuk.
Another theory regarding the origin of ponpo is that they
would have descended from the Ponpos of Bumthang.
According to Gyalrig, the king Langdarma's campaign to
destroy the teachings of Buddha in Tibet led to the escape of
the six Dorji (vajra) brothers of Lhalung Palgye Dorji from
Tibet to southern lands. Three brothers arrived at Bumthang
and settled in Tang and Chokor. Their descendants became
the ponpos of Tang and Chokor. The other three brothers
came from Lhodrak and arrived at Kurilung. The descendants
of Dragpa Dorji gained power over Kurilung and started the
families of Kurilung Ponchen and Zhelngo. Changrig Dorji's
descendants went to Zhongar Molbalungpa and gained
control over Khengpa.7 The descendants of Changrig Dorji
might have started ponpo nobility.
Gadpo families were equally influential but were believed to
have no noble ancestry. They were ennobled based on their
intelligence (saila), strength (khego), and wealth (junor).
Gadpos were known for their courage and skills during
warfare. Because of such qualities, people unanimously
recognized them as their leader who would give them
protection from adversaries and dispense justice in the
community. Gadpopa is referred to a performer during a local
festival called Chodpa in Goshing. He performs dances and
prays for longevity, wisdom, and prosperity through
exhaustive use of mockery and obscene language. He traces
his origin to the abode of Lha-Jajin (Lord Indra). As revealed
by his ritual recitation, he makes his psychic journey from
the heaven through Ura to the present place. This is clear
from the verses about his encounter with Ura Nad-mo (female
host of Ura).8 It is uncertain whether gadpo nobility of kheng
can claim their noble ancestry like Gadpopa.
Religious superiority for Social Distinctions
The expansion of religious aristocrats' (cho-je) control over
western Bhutan entailed non-religious nobilities to express
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
their superiority through their faith in pre-Buddhist practices
that constitute a mix of animism, Bon religion, and
Buddhism, and later as Buddhist patrons. Most of the kheng
nobilities worshipped the god of heavens, nature, and local
deities. They played important roles in religious invocations of
non-Buddhist gods and local deities. This is clear from some
ritualistic prayer verses. An invocation verse of Bonpo during
Goleng roop asserts that Tenpa Shenrab, the founder of Bon,
had introduced various rituals and festivals in kheng like
roop in Goleng dung, Shu in Tali and Buli Ponpo, mitshim in
Tagma Dung, kharphu in Shar Tongpa and gadang in Ngala
and Bjoka Khoches. It is an exaggeration to claim that Tenpa
Shenrab had visited Kheng, but it is possible that his
followers came to Monyul following Guru Rinpoche's
widespread annihilation of Bon religion in Tibet. A few of
them might have traveled to or through kheng leaving a
legacy of Bon practices that blended well with existing
While their [dung in particular] origin were never associated
with religious schools as were chojes, and although they
never functioned (except somewhat fortuitously) as lamas, it
would have been impossible for them to claim legitimacy of
their rule without associating their line with certain divine
properties.9 Most of the non-Buddhist rituals begin from the
attic, floor, or surrounding areas of noble houses where
offerings are made to Ode-Gongyal, Tenpa Shenrab, Ama
Gung-lhai-gyalmo and others. Local people believe that the
houses of nobles are closer to the heavens. It would make it
easier for gods to descend to earth through the houses of
nobles who are already believed to have ancestral linkages
with the gods of heaven. Later with the spread of Buddhism,
some of these Bon practices had either become completely
extinct like Tagma Dung or they are practiced in a simplified
form like roop in Goleng Dung.
The nobilities continued to dominate religious affairs even
after major replacement of the traditional faith with
Buddhism.   The   emerging   state   recognized   Buddhism   as
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
indispensable if social order was to be created uniformly. The
nobles were central in public affairs. They also took important
responsibilities in the community's religious function, aside
from their social and political role as the functionary agents
of the state government. They were distinguished from the
rest through their possession of Zhabdrung's statue in their
houses. Most of the important religious ceremonies had to be
initiated in these houses. Nobles' mansions functioned as
temples before the community temples were built. Even the
oldest temples, if there were any, were taken care by these
noble families. Some of them were also privileged hosts and
patrons of important Buddhist saints such as Pema Lingpa,
Thuksey Dawa Gyeltshen and others. All these indicate the
religious superiority enjoyed by these nobilities.
Space of Nobilities within Khenrig Nam Sum
Traditional division of kheng into three regions was purely
based on physical proximity of each division to Zhemgang
Dzong. Such division was instituted to ease out the
administrative difficulties and to simplify tax collection and
labour mobilization for the state. Tagma Chogpa (Lower
Kheng), Nangkorpa (Middle Kheng) and Chikorpa (Upper
Kheng) were the three major divisions. Zhemgang Dzongpon
was responsible for administering all three regions. But with
repeated damage of the Dzong by earthquakes and fire, it
became inconvenient for the people of upper kheng to
mobilize labour frequently owing to remoteness of the regions
from the Dzong. In the late 19th century, following a revolt
against the Dzongpon, the upper kheng was directly
administered from Wangdicholing in Bumthang and the
inhabitants were known as Wangleng Suma. They were
exempted from taxes and labour services to the state
government. This short-term arrangement later led to conflict
between Tunglabi Dung under Chikor division and rest of the
nobilities of Tamachok and Nangkor divisions led by Nyakhar
Nobilities under Tamachok division were Tagma Dung,
Samkhar   Dung,   Subrang   Dung,   Zurphai   Dung,   Gomphu
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
Gadpo, Nangla Khoche and Joka Khoche. Virtually, all noble
families were powerful, but two of them had prerogative by
virtue of their geographical locations. The axioms, Tagma
Dung tagi guyung (tiger's head) and Joka (Dogar) Koche sergy
di mig (the golden key) or Go tagma dung; Jug Joka khoche
(head-Tagma Dung and Tail-Joka Khoche) provide evidence to
their leadership roles among the nobilities. The nobilities
under Nangkor division included Dakpai Ponpo, Kikhar Jang
Ponpo, Buli Ponpo, Tali Ponpo, Goleng Dung and Nyakhar
Dung. Shingkhar Dung, Tunglabi Dung, Kuther Dung,
Warming Gadpo, Bardo Gadpo and Khomshar Gadpo were the
nobilities under Chikor division.
Tagma Dung's Extraordinary Encounter with Terton Pema
As mentioned earlier, Tagma is located close to Zhemgang
Dzong on the hilltop facing Jowo-Durshing. Tagma and
Samkhar are also mentioned in Guru Rinpoche's Nye-yig of
Jowo Durshrng. The names of the places associated with this
village were mostly derived from a female tigress (tag-mo) that
roamed the hill, frequently killing inhabitants and domestic
animals. Talagang (tiger- hill), Tagabi (tiger-meadow),
Talajong (tiger-land), Tagkhai (twenty-tigers) and Ta-gam
(tiger-gorge) are some other adjoining places. An Assamese
saint was said to have visited the village and tamed the
tigress by feeding it with milk. His statue is preserved until
today, but it cannot be identified.
Tagma Dung's mansion was also known by another name,
Kharsangpong Chukpo. Local history accounts that Tagma
Dung alias Kharsangpong Chugpo met Pema Lingpa. It was
an extraordinary meeting because the latter made a
supernatural visit to Kharsangpong Chugpo. Tagma Dung
had intense faith in Pema Lingpa but did not have the
privilege of meeting him. Driven by his unwavering faith in
him, he prayed to the terton even during his meals to visit his
house. On one of his meals, he envisaged Pema Lingpa seated
in front of him on the animal hide. He offered his imaginary
terton with foods and drinks, saying," Lama, relish on my
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
offering, while I eat in your company."
While Lama did not appear physically in front of him, the
terton paid him an unusual visit. It was later known from a
man from Berti that Pema Lingpa came to Kharsangpong
Chugpo's house. A man was returning from his village to his
master's house when he saw a lay-monk sleeping near a rock
in Takhai. The monk told him that he was invited by
Kharsangpong Chugpo for a meal and got drunk. He found
out later that no such monk ever visited his master. It was, as
discussed earlier, a miraculous visit. Perhaps, Chugpo would
have seen him, though the other people in the house did not
see him.10 Local belief that Pema Lingpa might have predetermined the arrival of his body relics (kudung) in Tagma
after more than hundred years to remain there hidden for
years under Tagma Dung's custody can be true.
The Arrival of Pema Lingpa's Kudung in Tagma
The previous bond between Pema Lingpa and Kharsangpong
Chugpo brought the kudung of terton in Tagma Gonphai
some hundred years later. It so happened that Zhabdrung
Rinpoche decreed Chogyal Minjur Tenpa in 1656 (?) to secure
the relic to Punakha Dzong from Tamzhing Lhundrupcholrng.
Intending to safeguard the relic and avoid it being taken to
Punakha Dzong, his custodian and other devotees escaped to
Tagma Gonphai. At that time, Tagma Gonphai was
inaccessible area, and it was home to many wild animals
including elephants and tigers.
The kudung was moved from Tamzhing to Tagma Gonphai
through Phromzor Mon and Nabji Korphu. The places along
the route got their names from this event. The kudung had to
be rested in several places along the route. The first place
that I can account at this stage is Pemathang, just opposite
Korphu; the other places before it have not been ascertained.
Pemathang was thus named because it resembled a lotus
flower. In Tashithang, a group of nuns offered a Tashi Mendey
to the kudung. The kudung was then carried across Tashiphu
and arrived at Thridangbi (thri - oral transmission, nang -
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
give and bi - ground). The natives were given religious oral
transmission and received the kudung's blessings. They
crossed various streams and passed through a thick jungle
called Zegang Yungba (ze-leapord and yungba-jungle) infested
with leopards. When they arrived at Torsengmed (tor-offer)
they made water offering to the kudung. They climbed down
to a Mon village of Berti where they met some folks involved
in a bitter brawl. The place was thus known as Berti, T)er'
locally mean a brawl. They came to a place where Tagma
Dung and his subjects came to receive the relic. This place
was later named as Lama-gam (Lama- refers to kudung, gam-
receive). The relic was then taken through Dung-jud, a place
where men from Tagma Dung's household used to contest
and test their strengths and skills by jumping over a huge
rock, traveled farther through Takhai (twenty-tigers) and
arrived at Zhuthrithang (zhuthri-throne, thang-ground) where
the kudung was kept on a throne prepared by Tagma Dung.
The relic finally reached Tharpacholing, which was their
proposed destination. Tharpa' in local dialect means escaped
from someone or something. It must have been so named to
indicate that the relic was saved from its enemy.11
The kudung was retained inside a rectangular pit on a mound
resembling an elephant's nose. This hill was known to be a
sanctuary for wild elephants, tigers, and other animals. They
dug trenches around it to protect the relic from beasts. It was
then moved to a base close to a pond (dawar) to keep it away
from the strong winter winds. One of the devotees went to
Lhodrak and brought Jangchub Choten to preserve the
sacred remains. Tagma Dung helped in building a temple to
house the relic. The entire relics were taken care of by Tagma
Dung. Bi-annual religious ceremony in honour of Terton
Pema Lingpa was initiated and conducted by several
generations of Tagma Dung. The descendants of Tagma Dung
have to send butter (mar-phod) and flour (phi-phod) offerings
today while conducting Peling Kuchey. Until recently, this
nobility had an authority to reveal the relics to public. In
absence of Dung, Khraipa Apa was allowed to do so. Later on,
Lama Phuntsho and Khyentshe Rinpoche were authorized by
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
the government to handle the relics.
Another oral history accounts that Pema Lingpa visited
Tharpacholing in the form of a white bird. While visiting
kheng Buli, he turned into a white bird and flew to Tagma
Gonphai. The bird perched on a hill like an elephant's nose. It
was at this time that he destined the arrival of his body
remains in Tagma.12 But, according to Rigden and Pelgen,13
Pema Lingpa built Tharpacholing monastery in Tagma
Gonphai while on his way from Kurtoe to Tagma via Nabji
Korphu. He dedicated the temple to Palden Lhamo to tame
tigers and elephants, which posed dangers to villagers of
Tagma and bordering areas.
The kudung is said to have remained there for more than two
and half centuries, until Choje Ugyen Phuntsho took it to
Yudrungcholing in Trongsa. It is accepted in the official
dominion that the kudung is in Punakha Dzong in Machen
Lhakhang. Another view contends that it was not moved
anywhere from Yudrungcholing. The attempt to take it back
to Tamshing failed after a route to Tamshing was damaged by
landslide. It was taken as a bad omen and the kudung was
not moved out of Yudrungcholing.14 Although the kudung had
been moved, the other relics including his wardrobe and
masterworks were retained, some of which were taken to
Khorphu Lhakhang by Lama Phuntsho.
Tagma Dung's Subordination of Berti Mon
Tagma Dung ruled his subjects like Berti Mon and khraipa
from his manor house called Umpang Dzong. It was a tall
three-storied building with nine doors. It is not known when
the Dzong was built, but it must have collapsed around 1882
when Drongsep Singye Namgyal was assisting Jakar
Dzongpon Pema Tenzin in a war against Trongsa Penlop
Dungkar Gyeltshen. Dzongpon Tsangla, the second Dzongpon
of Zhemgang Dzong rebuilt it. He was known to have come
from Buli Ponpo nobility and married Prengpa, the daughter
of Tagma Dung. The ruins of the Dzong are visible today.
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
Berti Mon were the community living in the black mountain
areas similar to monpas of Chunseng and Phrumzor. Tagma
Dung maintained intimate personal servitude of Berti Mon
and exerted some control over Phrumzor Mon. It is difficult to
determine the exact period when such slave institution began,
but some evidence points that it existed back to 12 th century
when Kharsangpong Chugpo had the spiritual encounter with
Terton Pema Lingpa. The meeting of Pema Lingpa in Tagkhai
by a 'so-called Kharsangpong Chugpo's servant from Berti'
bore witness to bondage relationship between them. The
power of noble lordship was defined by an agreement (gen-ja)
signed in the presence of local deities like Nadpo Rinchen
Drakpo, Chunglai Lhasang Karpo, Dhongai Tsanchen Marpo,
Kibulungtsan and Aka Raja. This relationship was personal
rather than territorial in nature. The conditions laid down in
the gen-ja speaks so much about the services that Berti Mon
would have to render to Tagma Dung until crows turned
This is clear from the Berti Mon's commitment to a close bond
of personal serfdom even with the change in social and
political institution in the country. One reason for such
commitment could have been an extra-ordinary agreement
between them. Betraying the conditions laid down in the gen-
ja meant death and famines in Berti. One of the conditions
stated that Berti Mon would serve Tagma Dung with loyalty
until crow turns white. To further strengthen the bond and
re-affirm their loyalty, the elders of Berti Mon came to pledge
their commitment during an annual ritual in Tagma Dung's
house. Such commitment was made to Dung Wangdi,
possibly three generations ago. The other motive behind this
was to escape the subjugation by the regional aristocrats of
Pelri and Lame Gompa in Bumthang.15 They feared that
becoming their subject would necessitate them to work
harder, pay more taxes and deliver load farther.
Some generations of Tagma Dung were said to have exerted
coercive rule over their domestic servants who had to carry
out  intense  manorial  labours-   almost  day  and  night-   for
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
meager amount of foods. They were levied heavy meat, fish
and grain taxes, sometimes even to the threshold of
starvation. Elderly people from Berti recount the hard work
and extreme punishment they were subjected to by their
stern lords, barely getting time even to attend to nature's call.
Berti community had to provide one man as Dung Apa's
personal servant (arpo) on a rotation basis until 1970s.
In the course of time, the number of days Berti Mon had to
work in Dung's household was reduced to ten days. During
the second King's reign, Berti community made some attempt
to violate the agreement. They appealed to the King to relieve
them from Dung's control and upgrade them to the status of
khraipa. But, since non-human witnesses were involved in
bond-agreement, breaking the bondage resulted in a series of
misfortunes such as famines and death of the community
members. Apologies were made to the deities several times;
however, breaking the oath is believed to have incensed the
deities further bringing inflictions to both the parties involved.
To redress the situation, Dung Thinley Dorji took an initiative
to desecrate the genja by involving the descendants of Berti
Mon. It was burnt during one of the religious ceremonies
organized by Meme Thinley in 1990 with extensive
ceremonies, and both the parties made prayers of apologies to
the deities. Chumi Gonpa Lama Yeshey Dorji performed
desecration rituals.
Disintegration of Samkhar Dung
Samkhar Dung once controlled the community of Samkhar
and Chungseng Monpa, the communities located close to
Surey- today's Jigmecholing (Sarpang Dzongkhag).
Instabilities within the family disintegrated Samkhar Dung,
thus leading to a 'deserted village' that was later re-settled by
Lhotsampas in 1950s. The internal dispute between brothers
over family rights and inheritance was the principal cause of
the family breakdown. To make matters worse, their mother
allied with the younger brother, and explored whatever means
available to ensure that manorial holdings and entitlements
were passed to him,  deviating from patrilineal tradition of
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
Dung that required the eldest son to become the heir.
She obliged her two sons to accept the contest that she had
devised in such a way to favour the younger son. Two sons
were called to a ground above their manor house and made to
jump on a cow skin laid on the ground, with the criterion that
whoever stood firm on the skin was to take over the family
rights. She laid the skin in such a position that the elder
brother skidded down. She altered its position when the
younger brother jumped on it that the hairs gripped his feet
firmly. The younger brother's victory, however, did not resolve
the conflict. Instead it flared into a war that the subjects were
even forced to flee to Shar Wotap. He became aware of a fatal
outcome of his leadership rivaled by his own brother. To
safeguard his own life, he ceded all his holdings to Lame
Gonpa aristocrats. The latter acknowledged him with a decree
authorizing two brothers to settle on any land located
between the boundaries of Joka Khoche and Tama Dung.
The mother grew weary of the situation that bore too much on
her and their subjects. She cursed her sons and prayed that
no male descendants be born to future generations, thus
ending the Dung lineage. The females dominated several
generations of Samkhar Dung; the born males were mostly
disabled. The intra-family tussle infuriated the protective
deities who chased the entire family up to Pong Angla Ungli16
(hill) above Tama Gonpa. Local tradition holds that an
unknown saint from India came to save them from the
deities. He would have been the same saint who was believed
to have tamed the tigress in Tagma. Stones resembling
statues of Guru Rinpoche and Jitsun Drolma were discovered
in Pong Ungla Ungling.17 The family members of Samkhar
Dung escaped to the territory of Zurphai Dung, who provided
them with land in exchange for a pig and a matangma of ara.
Fateful Collapse of Nyakhar Dung and Its Cause
The pretentious conduct of Nyakhar Dung and his ambitious
hunt to become a regional hegemony led to the fateful end of
his lineage. The other nobilities and the central government
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
alike dreaded his aggressive nature over others, which led the
central force to crush it. This nobility as a direct descendant
of Dung Nima Wangyal, the illegitimate son of Ura Dung
Dragpa Wangchuk and as the family who hosted Lhasey
Tsangma, enjoyed the sense of superiority over others.
The way Nyakhar Dung (maybe Nima Wangyal) had looked for
an appropriate site to build his temple reveals much about
his supernatural qualities. He climbed a hill and threw a
cymbal18' assured that the site where the cymbal had landed
would be suitable for the construction. The cymbal, at first
whirled horizontally over Melongbi, swirled farther and then
settled on the ground where Nyakhar Lhakhang stands now.
He had prophesized that water would flow from the site as a
gift from the lord of serpent (klu),19 which proved true.
Meme Tshampa identifies imprints on the rocks above
Zhobleng as those of Guru Rinpoche. But, others consider
that Nyakhar Dung left those imprints to mark his victory
over a serpent god. The serpent god was hacked into several
pieces. These bodies turned into a long stretch of rocks that
looked like serpent, and are seen even now. The snake had
vowed, "My life lasted short; so will the lineage of Nyakhar
Dung be totally wiped out." This is confirmed by the present
situation where no trace of his lineage exists at all, and if so,
only a few of them.
His innate tendency to exhibit his power and influence in the
region through warfare made several local nobilities angry
and provoked their jealousies. Tunglabi Dung was the
strongest rival, who intending to eliminate its relentless
opponent took advantage of Chogyal Minjur Tenpa's military
campaign in Kheng. Norbu Wangchuk also known as
Tunglabi Dung sounded in secret to Lam Namsey about
Nyakhar Dung's mounting influence and his potential threat
to the process of unification. This led to the central
government's crusade against Nyakhar Dung, in which the
latter was devastated despite its strong resistance. The Dzong
was set on e fire and the family members were taken as
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
captives. He demonstrated his extraordinary strength in this
war. He was known to have endured several bullets fired by
soldiers of the central government.20
Although the Drukpa army crushed Nyakhar Dung,
Zhabdrung looked at him with delight and compassion and
returned his privileges after the golden yoke of secular law
and silken knot of religious principle had been administered
on him and other nobilities of the east and central regions.
This is summed up as follows: "But on seeing with loving
compassion that king dGa'-ba and the Great Chief Dar-ma of
Gung=gdung, the gDung of Nya-mkhar, the descendants of
Bla-ma rGyal-mtshan and, more over, all those who had not
abided to commands were [now] performing whatever works
of service that came their way in a state of repentance that
forsook their previous actions and purified their present
deeds, those that had been imprisoned and those sons who
had been kept a hostages were favoured with remissions and
[re-]granted whatever houses, fields, articles of wealth,
officers and subjects they each had in their various homes".21
At one point in time, Nyakhar Dung fought with the warriors
of Assam. An oral source explains how Assamese forces were
driven back to plains by supernatural means. To contend the
enemies before they could take hold of strategic position, he
took a handful of sand, prayed to his protective deities and
threw it towards the military camp. These sand turned into
thousand of pikes (meri in Khengkha) that headed towards
the camp forcing the soldiers to flee. The place was later
named as Meripang.22 The Bodo folk-songs of Kamrup,
Goalpara and Darrang contain lyric23 pertaining to conflicts
between Bhutanese and the Bodos. This song must have been
sung during the Bodo's wars with Nyakhar Dung and Joka
Goleng Dung: A Renegate Nobility
The turn of an unfortunate event within the family of Tagma
Dung gave birth to a new branch of nobility in Goleng. It so
happened that Dung Wugpa and his son-in-law quarreled
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
during Peling Kuchey in Tagma Gonphai. The son-in-law was
drunk and was nagging his uncle. Intending to avoid further
friction, Dung Wugpa left the scene. He was hiding in
Umpang Dzong when his son-in-law caught him again. In
effort to save himself, he accidentally stabbed the son-in-law
to death, forcing him to flee to Goleng. He started a
subsidiary Dung family in Goleng. However, other oral
sources construe it differently. According to Meme Tshewang
Namgay, a descendant of Tagma Dung came to Geloeng as
magpa (male spouse) and started the noble family. 24
Three important households such as Dung, Kudrung and
Mamai co-existed and held different social and political
responsibilities. Whereas Dung household was respected as
an elite group, Kudrung household served as Shingkhar
Dungpa's local agency responsible for collecting local taxes for
Pangtey Pon and Mamai household. The Dung had little
control over the community since most of them were
controlled directly by Pangtey aristocrats such as Suma. The
Mamai stemmed out of zurpa household that was created as
favour from Pangtey Pon mainly to exempt taxes. It so
happened that an ordinary girl, then the groom in Dung's
household sought her brother's help in exempting her from
paying taxes. As a servant in the court of Pangtey Pon, he
appealed to his master to excuse his sister from paying taxes
who right away decreed that she would be tax-exempted. But,
this brought about some anxiety to Goleng Dung, who
dreaded that she might possibly bear influence over him,
especially with her brother's support. To evade her influence,
he isolated her and she was then forced to establish her own
household anew, then known as zurpa.
One of the existing social privileges that Goleng Dung is
entitled to is its lead role in indigenous communal festival
called Roop that is celebrated annually to invoke local deities
for bumper harvests and general well being. Invocation rituals
begins from the attic of Dung's house and ends in the field
where Dung has to sow ceremonial seeds, before which no
community members is allowed to do so. This throws true
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
light on how the community respects this nobility as being
'sanctified enough' to consecrate the sowing season.
Jang Ponpo's Dungkar (conch) flew to Kurtoe Dungkar
While Guru Rinpoche was mediating in Jampe Lhakhang, he
was believed to have instructed Monmo Tashi Kheudon, the
daughter of the king Sindhu Raja, to go to Mon area of
southern Bumthang in Kikhar, a place naturally endowed
with peace and silence. He gave teachings and taught her
how to mediate on them. As directed, she traveled to Kheng
and found a small cave resembling a stack of Buddhist texts
in Kikhar where she had mediated and practiced those
teaching for several months.
There is ample evidence to prove that followers of Guru
Rinpoche had blessed Kheng Kikhar. Monmo Tokto Lhakhang
featuring more of Tibetan architectural design stands as a
testimony. It is believed that the temple, located not far from
Monmo's holy cave, is based on a huge mass of sacred rock.
Irrespective of written record, local accounts date this temple
to the period of Jampe and Kyichu Lhakhangs. It seems this
temple was built in honour of Monmo Tashi Kheudon as
indicated by its name. One of the main relics was a dark
statue known as Sam-ye ku, which was supposed to have
flown miraculously to the temple's site on its own all the way
from Lhasa. But, the statue had been unfortunately stolen a
few years ago. It was such a portentous bronze statue
endowed with mystical power to foretell ill-fated events such
as sickness and death in the entire village. If someone were to
fall sick, the statue would lie down on its back, and reverting
to its normal position signified recovery of the sick. For ages,
Jang Ponpo owned the temple and it is still being taken care
of by his descendants.
Below this temple is a huge rock from which an unknown
treasure revealer was believed to have extracted a pair of
conches (dung-kar). The opening on the rock shaped like two
conches supports this belief25. One of the sacred conches is
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
said to have flown to Kurtoe Dungkar while the other is still
preserved in an old mansion of Jang Ponpo. If this belief is
true, I think there is some possibility of the said 'Kurtoe
Choje' having derived its name from this conch or dungkar.
The house of Jang Ponpo is located a short distance away
from the temple. The ruins of the houses of khraipa and
drapa bear witness to Jang Ponpo's pre-eminence and the
size of his subjects. The ruin of a watchtower indicates the
presence of rivals as well as his involvement in wars.
Buli Ponpo's Power and Myth
I have proposed different theories to the origin of Ponpos in
Kheng, but the origin of Buli Ponpo is traced to three brothers
(Mayung, Khanyok and Lopen) from Tibet who settled in
Bumthang Buli. The three brothers were hunting wild boars
that ravaged their wheat fields. They persued the animals and
came to what is now known as Buli.
According to the oral source26, Buli Ponpo derived its wealth
and power from Buli Manmo (goddess of lake). She lived near
Zhemgang Dzong, but she could not tolerate the place after
people started to dump animal carcasses into her lake and
defiled her abode.nSo she ran away to a more congenial
environment. She headed towards Buli, where she took a
shelter in the house of so-called Buli Ponpo feigning herself
as an old human lady. She preferred to occupy the ground
floor stating that she needed more space to accommodate all
her companions, which appeared too unusual for the host.
The host was further amazed with her request to leave her
alone throughout the night. The night passed on with rattling
sounds emerging from the ground floor. Not able to restrain
his curiosity, he ventured to peep through a small hole
despite the visitor's request not to disturb her in any manner.
He found out that snakes of all shapes and colours had filled
up the ground floor. She left the house early morning wishing
that the host should not have peeped through the hole.
However, she invited him to the lake located some distance
away. When he went there, he found at the lake's edge a
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
bronze pot with a broken rim (zang thro). It is said that had
he not disturbed the guests, he would have been gifted with
many pots.
Another version says that soon after the guest had left the
house, the host's daughter went missing frequently without
any knowledge of where she was going. Her father, grew
curious of her daughter's periodic running away that he
fastened a thin string on her cloth so that he could trace her
using it. The string unfolded itself all along the way she had
walked, the other end of which was with the father. He
followed the string and came to a lake where he saw his
daughter descending into the lake; her hand spinning the
thread, and that was where he last saw her. All of a sudden,
he saw the edges of the lake filled with thousands of pots of
all kinds. He saw a pot, broken at its rim - too unusual from
the rest- to capture his pathos that he touched it with his
finger. Within no moment, the rest of the pots vanished
except the one that he had managed to touch. He brought
home this pot after which he grew in power and wealth and
this continued throughout all his generations, later known as
Buli Ponpo. It was later known that his daughter had been
taken as Manmo's groom for which he had been compensated
with the pot. He was also later given a dark boy as
compensation, whom he did not keep with him for his
laziness but gave to Joka Khoche.
This legendary pot' is preserved up to this day in Punakha
Dzong. According to the oral source again, the war that broke
out between the central authority and Buli Ponpo was all due
to this pot. Because the pot was a super-human's gift, its
presence in the house enhanced Buli Ponpo's wealth and
raised his fame. His swelling influence in the region became a
source of apprehension to them that they sent a troop several
times to eliminate Buli Ponpo's family, but did not succeed.
In the later period of the history, Buli Ponpo Singye Namgyal
joined the court of Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. Through
his loyalty and role in the internal strife, he rose to a position
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
of Drongsep earning him the title of Drongsep Singye
Namgyal. His bravery and skill is revealed: "He was a giant
man whose strength and power assumed mythical proportion.
A man of divine birth, he could jump across nine paddy field
terraces forward and three terraces backward. Three men of
superhuman strength and size, Churned Wangyel, Mangdep
Dhendup and Buli Karchung were his assistants."
In the midst of his growing fame came a severe blow upon
him. According to Lama Sanga (1994), he led the force of
Trongsa Penlop Pema Tenzin against Jakar Dzongpon
Dungkar Gyeltshen and defeated him. Pema Tenzin, who was
at that time in conflict with Dungkar Gyeltshen over the post
of Trongsa Penlop, engaged Drongsep Singye Namgyal in the
war promising him the highest post if he managed to defeat
his enemy. But, Pema Tenzin did not keep his own promise,
and the post was given to his brother-in-law, leaving
Drongsep Singye resentful. Singye Namgyal employed two
men who were annoyed by Pema Tenzin for expelling them
from employment in construction of Lame Gonpa. The two
men killed Pema Tenzin in 1882 in Byakar Dzong. Singye
Namgyal occupied the post of Jakar Penlop. But, the matter
did not end easily. Pema Tenzin's sister sought the help of
Ugyen Wangchuk to avenge the death of her brother, who
came to fight Singye Namgyal with a huge force. They
surrounded Jakar Dzong, but because Ugyen Wanchuck's
aunt and cousins were inside the Dzong and Singye Namgyal
threatened them to blow up the Dzong with gunpowder if ever
they attacked him, the attack had to be suspended.
Determined to kill Singye Namgyal, Pema Choki and Ugyen
Wangchuk pretended that they had surrendered and entered
the Dzong with the force bearing gifts for him. It was on this
occasion that Singye Namgyal was killed and his supporters
were gradually executed. The dead Penlop's property in Buli,
was permanently confiscated from his family, and given to
Dasho Thinley Namgyal of Pangtey (Chummey), Bumthang.
The legendary pot' must have been among these chattels. His
[Singye Namgyal] crime was considered a humilation not only
for his family, but also for whole Buli community, and he was
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
not talked about until recently.
Age-old Rivalry Between Tunglabi and Nyakhar Dungs
At one time, Tunglabi Dung served directly under
Wangdicholing, but later Zhongar Dzongpon controlled it,
owing to its proximity. It was easy for this nobility and
subjects to pay taxes and services to Zhongar Dzong than to
Zhemgang Dzong. His desertion of his former Dzong provoked
other nobilities, as decrease in the number of subjects meant
higher tax and service burden for the rest of the Kheng
nobilities. It led to conflicts between Tunglabi Dung and
Nyakhar Dung, the latter was backed by other nobilities.
Nyakhar Dung demanded that Tunglabi Dung should rejoin
them since he fell under Zhemgang's jurisdiction. But, the
other party refused to do so stating that he had nothing to do
with it. Further, he went on to say that it would not matter
much whether he served the east or central as he was in any
case serving the same government. When no choice was left
to change his mind, Nyakhar Dung declared a war. Tunglabi
Dung signaled his courage to challenge the rest of the
nobilities if they were to come to his territory. Nyakhar Dung
prepared his army of fifteen men and marched towards
Tunglabi. He [Tunglabi] invoked all his deities before his
enemies arrived. Kuther Dung, a younger brother of Tunglabi
Dung tried to mediate between them but in vain. On the day
of the war, Tunglabi Dung conveyed to his enemy that he
would prefer the fight one to one with Nyakhar Dung rather
than making their men fight. He laid the condition that he
would surrender his land and subject to Nyakhar Dung if he
losed the fight while the latter would also do the same.
Amidst a huge gathering, two of them wrestled and knocked
each other to the ground to almost to the point of exhaustion.
During the peak of the fight, the wife of Tunglabi Dung
intervened from the crowd shouting, "oro oro! sem ma yeng
cho , rog gadang sengpa, phin bi" (In Sharchop language, 'do
not get distracted; he lifted his arm, stabbed him). This
somewhat diverted Nyakhar Dung's attention as he did not
understand the language, and at a spur of movement,
Tunglabu Dung killed him on the spot.
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
The Nobilities and the Annual Tax
Subsequent to the consolidation of the eastern and central
regions under Drukpa regime, the nobilities of the middle and
lower Kheng conducted themselves as the principal taxpayers (ma-khrai), separate from the ordinary tax-payers
(khrai-pa) who were grouped under two major administrative
units: Tama Drungwog and Tali Drungwog, then administered
by an official known as Drung. There were other groups of
taxpayers like Rimonbitapa, Samkharpa and Ka-pa families.
The taxes were paid in money and kind ranging from
garments to dyes, vegetables, and dairy products. The
nobilities had to submit their taxes (ma-khral) to Zhemgang
Dzong on 10th day of 10th Bhutanese month, which then were
further conveyed to Trongsa Chhotse Penlop.
The nobilities of Tamachog region customarily met in Berti,
on 7th day of 10th Bhutanese month, before moving together
in groups to Zhemgang Dzong with loads of tax. Berti Mon
and Tagma Khraipa would submit their taxes first to Tagma
Dung, and were also responsible to deliver them to Zhemgang
Dzong. Berti Mon would carry taxes from Tagma up to Berti
and Tagma Khraipa Chungwa would then carry them to
Zhemgang. Each of these nobilities would bring with them
their own personal servants known as arpo.
On the way, it was traditional for these nobilities to take rest
on shaima gor (stone). Those stone slabs were arranged in the
form of a seat specifically for the nobilities to take rest when
they traveled to Zhemgang Dzong for administrative purposes.
It was here that they would celebrate their journey with foods
and drinks. Tagma Dung, by virtue of being close to
Zhemgang Dzong would occupy the top seat while Joka
Khoche had to sit on the last stone slab.
The nobilities from Nangkor and Tamachog would assemble
in Zhemgang Dzong on 8th day and take a break on 9th. They
would camp below the Dzong, but would stay with their
traditional host families in Trong in case of bad weather. The
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
host families were known as Nadpo and Nadmo, who would
normally welcome their guests by saying, "we have been
hosting your family since Zhabdrung's time, and would
welcome you for generations." Such relationship exists even
now, particularly among the people of Ngangla and Joka.
On the tenth day, they would gather in the Dzong along with
their taxes. Tamachogpa would occupy the middle row,
Tagma Dung seated on the lead, while Nangkorpa would
occupy the left line with Dakpai Ponpo at the top. Chupon of
Trong and Dangkhar would occupy the right row. It was
mandatory for Tagma Dung to present first a sample of his
Dzongbub (cloth tax). Chepon, an official appointed from
Tongsa Dzong would measure the length and width of the
cloth and examine its quality. His recognition of the sample
meant that rests of the taxes were accepted. In the end,
Dzongpon would also host them a grand meal. Ironically, the
meat used to be collected from the nobilities themselves in
advance. The people of Namthir and Dangdung would then
transfer the taxes to Trongsa. Some people from Kheng would
also go with them.
I have written so much on different aspects of Kheng
nobilities, including several legends linked with them, some of
which may seem rather irrelevant in the present context. The
purpose behind this article is to record whatever we can-the
reminiscence of the past- that I presume would be lost
forever. The richness of each individual society that emerged
through distinct social processes is evident from the rich oral
tradition. As a 'society' that relied heavily on oral information
until recent past, and with a sudden shift to print and mass
media, it is likely that those resources would fade away as
our living libraries' die one after another. It is thus crucial for
us to translate the oral sources to print medium so that
generations hence can still appreciate our glorious past, and
later use them for some in-depth analysis of our sociopolitical transformation. I have not been able to document
even a fraction of what exists on Kheng nobilities. There is
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
still more research to do and add to our limited literature,
especially in English.
Ardussi, John "The Gdung Lineages of Eastern and Central
Bhutan",   in  The Spider and Piglet.  The  Centre  for
Bhutan Studies, Thimphu, (2003
Aris, Michael (1979). Sources for the History of Bhutan. Viena:
Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und
Buddhismuskunde, Heft.
Rigden, Tenzin & Pelgen, Ugyen (1991) "Khengrig Namsum",
ISDP, Zhemgang
Sanga, Lama (1983). 'brug gi smyos rabs gsel bai' me long.
Tshedwang,   Padma   (1994).   History   of Bhutan,   Thimphu:
National Library
1 The legendary origin of Dung families in Bumthang is described in
various literature like Gyalrig by Gelong Nawang, H'brug gi smyros
rabs gsel ba'I me long (Genealogical history of Bhutan) by Dasho
Lama Sanga
2 According to the existing literature, the origin of Dung in
Bumthang centers on a legend of Guse Langling alias Lhagon
Pelchen.2 During the reign of the king Khikha Rathoed, the people of
Bumthang prayed to O-de Gungyal (God of Heaven) to give them a
leader who can bring an end to their constant internal strife. Guse
Langling was sent to the valley as an answer to their prayers. He is
believed to have come down from the sky to Ura valley grasping a
divine cord and was born to Sonam Peldon. His divine parentage
earned him respect from the people as result of which he became the
powerful nobleman of the community. H'brug gi smyros rabs gsel
ba'I me long (Geneological history of Bhutan) by Dasho Lama Sanga,
published in 1983.
3 See Ardussi (2004), The Gdung Lineages of Eastern and Central
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
Bhutan, in Spider and Piglet, p. 68.
4 Ugyen Pelgen and Tenzin Rigden, Khenrig Namsum: A Historical
Profile of Zhemgang Dzongkhag.
5 According to Gyalrigs, the youngest son [of Thonglegpal -mThong-
legs-dpal], Ong-ma, after going to U-dza-rong, took control of a royal
castle and, gaining power over the subjects and officers, acted as
their chief. The descendants of Byar Ong-ma are all Byar-pa families
who are at U-dza-rong, gTor-ma-gzhong, Yong-ka-la, lCags-mkhar-
bzung, Kuri-smad, rGya-ras-zur, Byog-kang (present Joka), Ngangla, Khomshar, Netola and Kheng-rigs rNam-gsum.
6 Meme Tshanmpa, Kheng Nykhar
7 See Gyalrig
8Wayo, Wayo- Voices from the Past, Phuntsho Rapten, Goshing
Chodpa, the Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu. PP. 86
9 Michael Aris, Bhutan: The Early History of a Himalayan Kingdom,
1979, Aris & Phillips Ltd,. Warminster, Wilshire, England, Page 116'
10 As narrated to me by Meme Dzongtho. He is one of descendants of
Tama Dung. His grandmother had passed down this story to him.
11 This was narrated to me by Ap Zontho of Tagma. He heard this
story from his grandmothers.
12 Meme Penden Dorji, younger brother of Tagma Gup Thinley Dorji.
13 Authors of Khenrig Namsum: the Historical Profile of Zhemgang
Dzongkhag, 1999: 57
14 Kengnyer, Yudrungcholing, Trongsa. He believes that the kudung
is in Yudrupcholing monastery. The caretaker in the temple should
normally come from Tagma because of the long-term association of
kudung with the people of Tagma Gonphai.
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
15 According to Meme Thinley Dorji, Tama Gup who was the last
generation of Tagma Dung who enjoyed the privilege of employing a
male attendant (arpo) from Berti while on his official errand to
Zhemgang Dzong.
16 Reference to Angling Ungling is also found in Dorji Penjore's
article on Wamling Kharphue. In this article, Angling Ungling refers
to mythical world of god on the way from the human world to abode
of 'Ode Gongjan in heaven. However, in the present context, Angling
Ungling refers to a place located above Tagma Gonphai
17 Interview with Meme Penden Dorji and Ap Dzo-tho.
18 I had the opportunity to see this cymbal during one of field studies
in Kheng. The cymbal has become too old and torn.
19 Meme Tshampa from Tshaidang presently living in Tingtibi.
20 Lam Tshang Nga's Biogrpahy on Lineages
21 Aris, Michael (1986). Sources for History of Bhutan in Lo-rgyus,
pp. 113
22 As accounted to me by Meme Tshampa.
23 The Bodo girls encouraged the heroes to win the battle by singing
this song:
Drive fast your steed Bachiram
A hero you are,
The Bhutiya Soldiers are marching
Tieghten the rein and use your spur,
Drive your steed fast, Bachiram
Look, here they come.
This is extracted from B. Chakravarti's A Cultural History of
Bhutan' published in 1979, pp. 18.
24 Lham Dorji, "Goleng Roop" in Wayo Wayo- Voices from the Past,
2004, The Centre for Bhutan Studies.
 The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities
25 I had an opportunity to visit this temple. On the rock, one can see
an opening that is exactly conch in shape. I have also seen one of
the conches. The other conch is said to have been taken to Kurtoe
Dungkar Choje.
26 As narrated to me by my 72 years old grandmother Aum Penden,
from Tagma. She heard this legend from Meme Chepon Tashi
Namgay of Zhemgang Trong, who claims to be the direct descendant
of Buli Ponpo.


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