Method of mobilising household and community labour contribution
List of participants under Lhuntse District and few under Central District
Photo taken by author in July 2010
Ap Tshechula one of the most interesting elderly farmer who was filled with excitement to share his lived experiences. He feels that agrarian system had drastically changed today while he tried to recollect back his memory of the old system.86
1See also (Brenner 1977, Byres 2004, Khan 2004, Kay 2002)they share the same view on politics
2 Dasho here refer to the red scarf official equivalent to the English title ‘honorable’. In those days they were the personal attendant of the king.
3 For valuable exceptions, see (Griffin et al. 2002, Putzel 1992).
4 More details refer to Goldstein and See also (Shakya 1999)
5 Refer to also (Pommaret 1984:1-175).
6 From my interview with Dasho Karma Ura, Director, Centre for Bhutan Studies, (CBS) on July 2010, Thimphu: According to Dasho Bhutan has a religious history and cannot be compared to European or other Asian ‘serfdom/feudalism’.
7 Where you have the Catholic Church, manorial lords, military structure, the serfs were tradable commodities and lords had the full authority over them.
8 Even the European literature exaggerates the oppression of regular serfdom in Europe. (Brenner 1976) argued that in the later part of the13th century in Europe upon the ‘Black death’ which led to decrease in population whereby the peasant had better deal with the landlord and later this change in condition led to the end of serfdom in Europe.
9 Refer to (Dargyay 1982, Goldstein 1986).The main argument among most authors and common understanding is that the traditional system in Tibet is not appropriate to be called serfdom as used in the west Europe.This is the start point.
10 See (Aziz 1978, Coleman 1998, Miller 1988, Dargyay 1982).
11 From my interview with Ms. Francoise Pommaret, She shared her opinion that Bhutan cannot be termed as feudal. Bhutan has a religious history and culturally it is a different country. (Anthropologist, Institute of Language and Cultural studies, Simtokha also a (Tibetologist) interview held on July 2010, Thimphu).
12 See also (Aris, 1979)
13 Thimphu penlop was responsible for (main capital city), Dagana penlop was responsible for (south west regions), Trongsa penlop for the(central and eastern region) and Paro penlop for (western region)
14 Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang,Lhuentse, Mongar,Tashigang (central and eastern Districts)
15 In Haa(central District)
16 who were the ones to administer a group of villages which is known as a Gewog today
17 Store master for various products such as butter, grains, meat etc
19 Personal assistant to the king
20 Associated with discipline and etiquette
21 Man in waiting to the king, he should be at the door and ready for any kind of commands
22 According to a senior government official
23 From my interview finding but needs more research as this was not prevalent in my village study
24 Kind taxes known as lonthrel such as grains,butter,meat etc
25 Ex Dasho’s
26Quote from my interview in English language. Name, Date and place are kept anonymous for confidentiality
27 With the inception of the Tshogdu various resolutions were passed and these can be used to fix the dates of the different stages of reform. My respondents recalled only the 1950s.They years they mentioned varied from each person to another.
28 Some tax payers left the land not able to pay the tax. we don’t have details for this
29 My respondents mentioned that it took 30 days to reach the capital city (Thimphu) and central regions those days by foot.
30 Man in waiting
31 Today these titles don’t exist anymore
32 Judge in the high court
33 Responsible for the entire District
34 Kishu thara is a reputable and colorful Bhutanese textile popularly woven and worn by the ladies in Khoma (Another village in the same District), Kurtoe. Today the price of a silk kishu thara ranges from Nu 30,000 to Nu 60,000.
35 Crops such as Wheat, buckwheat, millet, rye, oat, rice, barley, maize and sorghum
36 Local indigenous name for the ceremony held
37 District in the eastern Bhutan
38 Excerpt from my interview: An example of peasant resistance not through violence but literary devises such as folklores, sayings and aphorisms. An old saying from Tashigang (district in the eastern region, in its local dialect known as sharchop) which alludes to the heavy taxation both in kind and labour during that time: “Merak Sakteng si Sakteng; Waktsa sokpey si mala”:Translation: Merak and Sakteng are butter plenty, but not even enough to apply on baby’s body as lotion“Radi Phongmey to phongmey, Waktsa bilay to mala”: Translation:Radi and Phongmey are rice bowl, but not a morsel to feed the child’s bowl. “Galing Changmey yu changmey, Serkem phubey yu mala”: Translation:Galing and Changmey are wine plenty, but not a pint for libation (wine offering to God).
39 Four langdor makes up one acre. Therefore one langdor is less than half an acre
40 Those belonging to religious head or the state
41 In some cases it happened that the draps already owned some share of land hereditarily but otherwise they were provided land
42 Labour tax under the Dzong(Dzongkhag Administration)
43 Name, place and date are confidential
44This excerpt contributes in building up our understanding of drap relationship. This was a family narration while we also get an understanding of inheritance. However the respondent was not from the study village but belonging to the same block/district.
45 Honorific term to address an official who wears a red scarf today
46 My discussion with the Ex Dasho
47 Mephu thre known as fire tax had also been paid. Every small hut that makes fire was also levied tax.
48 According to official A: The measure of tax imposition was in langdo (size of a land an oxen bullock can plough in a day) in the east and sondrey (son=seed, drey=measurenr unit) in the west. Some landlords shared their land with the peasants to share the tax burden. But I did not find this in the study village.
49 ‘Cheta kasho’ written on the bark of the tree contained detailed information on the reduced tax liabilities in terms of both labour and goods. This status granted by the King to households with special problems(e.g. disability, death etc)
50In earlier times, according to informants, people were not paid at all but later during the third king’s reign there was payment in kind of Nu. One per day rising much later to Nu. 30 per day .Today this system is abolished.
51 This is unpaid labour contribution for development activities. This is paid in most cases today
52 This illustration is used for understanding the asset owned pre reform period and the tax system. The identification of the person is confidential
53 Wangyon: it literally means levy for blessings, but generally understood as taxes (wang=blessing, yon=tax). The monastic body preformed rituals for the wellbeing and happiness of the community, people and the country. The people paid in kind taxes (food grains, meat and butter) to the monastic institutes/schools (Dratshang) in return.
54 One such example was the ‘sungchoe-bumdey’ the annual puja which is still continued.
55 Indigenous term used to call fertile land
56 80% of the land belonging to aristocrats had been the herediatary.later when the division of property started the eldest daughter had more choice in terms of having serf and also land share. Later the eldest daughter’s family will own the same and have the same power. This is all belonging to one household.
57 Langdo is the local measurement for land used in those years.4 langdo makes up 1 acre of land.
58 (Drap constituted at least 5% and the rest zab. some Draps owned a ‘langdo’ of land) 14 households out of 20 were serfs, which means there were 168 serfs (12 average household members x 14 serf households =168 serfs).
59 constituting 4 households (12 household members x 4 threlpa households= 48 threlpa people)
60 Which are 2 households with 24 members
61 Weeding mainly for maize (know as bachupa in local dialect), wheat, potato and chilly. Maize was planted twice or thrice in a year
62 Ploughing the oxen
63(An excerpt in local dialect from interview held on July 2010)
“ner shang nang ta ta ke chey la.Ner sang mu ne chey la tag ko ge to go chey la. Phey chey ge brmra, hoto rey be la. ‘bolag sa’ ge ne maparang me lang ta.bra ba to khorga blang rata. ber br to jola bleng ya merata la. Nema,threy phe thong nga le sun ra sun shang la”Translation “I have to check my kitchen. When I go to work on others land I get paid in grains. My ‘bolang’ land is not enough for my family. Sometimes I get bag full of rice. I get fed up with the taste of wheat soup all the time”
64 Working on others land also includes tilling the field with oxen
65 One dre is equal to 1.67 kg
66 Share cropping
67 Khomteng lhakhang is a Tibetan settlement across the border. An elderly shared his experience in the barter exchange with Tibet in 1950s.That use to be exchange of clothes like silk, woolen clothes (known as hota, jalo and namboo), salt and oil exchanged mainly with rice and maize.
68 Approximately 1.5 acres
69 Share cropping
70 Religious institution
71 Religious festivals held annually
72 This includes, carrying of tax which in kind to be carried in the central monastic and central region, postal services, loading of official luggage’s, carry load, cooking utensils from one place to another, goods for barter with Tibet and so forth.
73 Royal decree from the king
74 Development work like building of road, bridges, monastery and so forth. The meals were served in this labour contribution.
75 Refer to chapter 3 on starting up of National Assembly
76 In order to reach the capital city would be more than a month by foot.So they could not reach there and chose to stay in village.
77 This is also known as 50-50 basis.50 % of the share the land lord can own and the rest 50% by the other peasant working the land.
78 Due to lack of labour most of the land remained forested even prior to reform.
79 According to the present land commissioner each one had to do land registration known as choktham
80 (a plot of land that an oxen bullock can plough in 2-3 days)
81 My interview with Dasho sangay Dorji in August 2010, he mentioned that this kasho was from third Druk Gyalpo
82 While I communicated with the senior land commissioner land measurement had been a complex issue. Earlier the standard measurement was evolved from langdo (size of a land an oxen bullock can plough in a day) in the east and sondrey (son means seed and drey means measuring container) in the west. This being replace later to chaktha (the chain survey) to plane table survey. Today it is done by cadastral survey. When the equipments were replaced the land owners had to further give away their land and there had been land excess issues.
83 Place in India
84The current tax today as stated in the (Ministry of Finance 1996)the wet land tax is Nu 24/- per acre and dry land tax is Nu 12/- per acre.
85 Today the current land act 2007 which replaced the earlier 1979 makes things more valid and legitimate.
86 This photo is included with his permission
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