News | Published:

Research Items

    Naturevolume 120pages9597 (1927) | Download Citation



    THE LAPCHAS.—Vol. 31, No. 4, of the Journal and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal is a study of the folk of the Lapchas of Sikhim, supplemented by incidental notes on their social anthropology, by Mrs. de Beauvoir Stocks, which is based upon observations made on two journeys in that country in 1925. Very little attention has been paid to the Lapchas and, owing to contact with Tibet—the Sikhim Rajas are of Tibetan descent and are recognised as in a sense alien by the people—and India, and their conversion to Buddhism, their folklore shows extraneous influences, also perceptible in their customs and beliefs, but not always easy to disentangle in the present stage of our knowledge of them and their immediate neighbours among the Himalayan peoples. For example, the conceptions of gods is vague, and apparently it had not attained any advanced stage of development when it was superseded by Buddhism. It would appear that there were five deities, but even their names may have been forgotten as the terms at present applied to them in certain cases are purely descriptive, e.g. It-Mo, “The Ancient Mother,” while others are of Tibetan origin. The five original deities are a family of mother, father, two children, and a son of the mother. Among them the creative power is attributed to the female deities. The mother is probably the living force of the animal and vegetable world. An especially significant figure is the Bong-thing, or medicine man, the son of a goddess who was sent as a Shaman to relieve human beings from the tortures of the demons. In Lapcha belief, as in Tibetan Buddhism, and in India, demons play a very prominent part, and the heroical tales are filled with demoniacal beings, ogres, etc., who haunt every locality which presents some dangerous or unusual character, such as the unhealthy jungle with its dangers from wild a,nimals, or a hill-top, or cascade. One demon inhabiting the top of Mt. Tendong was said to take a toll of two lives in each year.

    About this article

    Publication history

    Issue Date



    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing