Sherpa is an easterner indigenous people, live in the eastern part of Nepal. The word Sherpa is combination of two words – “Shyar” (East) and “Pa” (people) “People of the East” and the words are coined from the Tibetan language. They are indeed easterners both in origin and present location of settlement, as they migrated from Eastern Tibet and now live in Eastern Nepal (Nawang, 1995). The ancestral land of the Sherpas lies in the northern side of the Solukhumbu district along the Dudh Koshi River and its tributary at Solu Khola. However, they are found spread out all along the eastern hill districts; Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Bhojpur, Sankhuwasabha, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Udayapur, and Okhaldhunga. Even they have been living in Kathmandu Valley and eastern part of Mechi River in Darjeling, and Sikkim of India too. But Solukhumbu is their original homeland. SoluKhumbu Sherpas are among the best known Himalayan people. Therefore, Khumbu region is well known as ” Sherpa Land”. It is also called ‘Shyarkhumbu’, and the word ‘Shyar’ means East in Sherpa (or Tibetan) language.

According to the different literatures, the Sherpas migrated from Kham area of Eastern Tibet to the present area after crossing the Nang-pa-la (pass). The Sherpa, the inhabitants of the Himalayan region, are Mongoloid in origin and in physical feature.. The population of the Sherpas, according to the census of 2001 is 1,54,622(,0.68% of the national total) out of them 77,511 male and 77,111 are female population.

The Sherpa speak ‘Sino Tibetan language ‘ a dialect of Tibetan and literature history and philosophy came from old Tibetan religious books (Nawang, 1995)

Origin and Migration history of Sherpas

The word ‘Sherpa’ means easterner as it is addressed to the present day Sherpa. It is not clear how this term came to be associated with this particular group. When did they come to their present habitat? From where? Why? In what number? Who came first? These are the main questions. About this matter previous researchers have revealed contradictory ideas. It is not clear in the literatures. Haimendorf (1964, 1984) writes all Sherpas or their ancestors immigrated from Kham region of eastern Tibet. They migrated to their present habitat in Nepal.

According to Oppitz (1974) the first migrants into Khumbu belonged two proto-clans, known as Minyagpa and Thimi, which later split into the clans which constitute the present Sherpa Society based on the historical documents he also describes that the Sherpas original homeland was Kham region of the eastern Tibet which is almost 1300 miles from the present homeland Solukhumbu. They migrated due to Politico-religious and internal religious conflicts. They were bound to leave their ancestor homeland. Their first migration started in 1530A.D. and that continued till 1850 A.D. There are other reason incorporated by different scholars as Sange Tenzi Lama (1971) and Downs (1980) have opined that Sherpas migration occurred due to harassment given by Mongol. On the ground of the Sherpa beliefs Haimendorf stated that “their ancestors migrated south along the Rongshyar Chu- west of the Rolwaling Himal and then turning to east settled first in Solu and gradually they moved northwards into Khumbu (Haimendorf 1964,Jerstad 1966) In this point there lies the major contradiction because the traditional belief is that their ancestors came to Khumbu straight from Tibet across the Nangpa la as the main trade route passes along this area between Khumbu and Dingri region of Tibet(Sherpa1882, Kunwar 1989)

It is also stated that first ancestor of the present Sherpa did not migrate from eastern Tibet to Nepal as a whole tribe. They came in very small numbers. But he didn’t speak about the numbers of migrants. He also mentioned in his book the first Sherpa migration into Solu-Khumbu region in 1532 A.D. (see: Poffenberger 1980, Gurung, and Shalter 1996)

Ortner(1978) reported that the Sherpas migrated into their present location in Nepal from the Kham region of eastern Tibet about 450 years ago. It is not clear why they left, harassment by marauding Mongol tribes or religious repression by the reformed Tibetan Buddhist sect. Although it seems equally plausible that there was some local upheaval in the feudal social structure.

Gautam (1994) concluded that Sherpa migrated from Tibet approximately 600 years ago, through the Nangpala pass. They have a legend which states that during the reign of Mongol King Tsokpo Ddzangubrae, The king attempted to spread the teaching of the Gelugpa sect and in the process tried to convert forceively the existing Nyingmapa followers into the gelukpa sect many people were put to death for their unwillingness to part with their Nyingmapa beliefs. It is probable that a group of nyingmapa followers migrated to the land south of their homeland and had taken shelter in the Khumbu region in the initial stage and from where they re-migrated to other outlying areas afterwards.

Mola a tradional oral story narrated during the occasion of wedding in Bigu in Dolakha relates about their original homeland in Kham, Tibet. One inhabitants of Kham fled-away and arrived in Thasa and from there they came to Dhingri. Some of them crossed the Nangpala pass and settled in Khumbu valley of present day Solukhumbu District. Even from Khumbu some people got down to Solu and settled in gomba dzyung (present Junibesi) later on as the population increased, some people reached chortung la (the ridge of Jiri) from where they look to the north- western side. It shows that the Sherpas first settled in Khumbu, and then gradually they emigrated to the north-western part of the present homeland. But it doesn’t give any idea to calculate the date of migration (Kunwar, 1989). Zangbu(1995) writes in his book. The first person came to Khumbu by way of Rolwaling valley and Tashi lapcha.(pass) from Kham in eastern Tibet 600 years ago.

Previously they were not addressed by the word ‘Sherpa’. But it is not clear in what circumstances this term came to be associated with this particular group from the Tibetan point of view, Sherpas dwelling in the highlands of Nepal are southerners rather than are easterners, though there is the tradition that before their migration to their present habitat they had settled in eastern Tibet(Haimendorf 1964,1984) In this context, some Sherpas came to the conclusion that they address ‘nubripa’, western, for the same type of culture group whose habitat is western part of Nepal. Similarly, the term Sherpa is used for the “eastern inhabitants of Nepal”. Another group opined that the term indicates” man from rising sun area”. Therefore, they were addressed Sherpa. But it is so why the other ethnic groups of Eastern Nepal is not addressed by the term “Sherpa”. According to reincarnated Lama of Tengboche monastry, the first man came to Khumbu from Kham Salmo-Gang (east of Tibet) whose clan was called Timi (Thimi), incarnated from the god Wosal and his name was pajzin. After he returned back to Tibet the people asked him where he came from he replied “the east part of Kham” That is how the name Sherpa, easterner came into being (Kunuwar,1989) But some Sherpas of Solu are not in favor of this opinion. According to them, the word Sherpa is of very late origin.

It has come to know on the basis of different literatures cited above that Sherpas were migrated to Nepal from the Kham region of Tibet 5 to6 hundred years back. But one study carried out from Ethnographic Museum (2001) which has revealed the fact that Sherpas were not migrated crossing the boarder of Tibet to Nepal because the present days political entity of the kingdom of Nepal was not in existence there. Only after the unification by P.N. Shah, the Himalayan region of present day Nepal became an integral part of the kingdom of Nepal. As in those days there was no definite identity of Nepal and Tibet like all those indigenous people of present day Nepal. Sherpas would move from one place to another place of the Himalayan region as Alpine pastoralists and traders. The Himalayan region was the common land of all Tibetan speaking people of various nationalities.. So, Sherpas are not the migrants of Tibet or immigrants of Nepal Himalayan region whether it can be present day Nepal or Tibet.
It is presumed that the group of people migrated out from Kham region, east of Tibet, was called as ” Shyar Khamba” (People who came from eastern Kham) and the place where the migrant people started to settle was called ” Syar Khumbu”. As the time passed the ” Shyar Khamba”, inhabitants of shyar Khumbu, were called as Sherpa.

Similarly, Shyar Khumbu (present day Solukhumbu) and especially the villages and mountains of Khumbu region are found to be named in Sherpa language.

CLANS Of Sherpas (RU)

The Sherpa community like other ethnic groups is divided into many clan groups (Ru). There are mainly four main clans such as Timi, Thakdopa, Chawa and Lama. Each clan gave rise to several brother clans.The Paldorje clan gave rise to the Salaka, Dhag Shinto, Khampache and goparma.The Thakdopa clan gave rise to the Gole, Garja, Pinasa, Pangkarma.Sharpa Penagpa and Shari-topa are brother clans.From the Lama clan are the Serwa and Gombawa. The Chawa remained a single clan that originated from Lama and his family. Othe more recent clans are Chu serwa, Murmin,Lhukpa, Nawa, Shangku, Zongnagpa and Mendewa.Each clan has its own deity and ways of doing Pujas.Sherpa custom does not allow marriage between members of the same clan or brother clan.


Agriculture, animal husbandry and trade were the traditional Sherpa occupations. Animal husbandry has been an old age occupation among the Sherpas in Khumbu region. Cattle herding is considered as one of the most profitable occupations among the Sherpas. They graze their cattle through transhumance system in which the seasonal migration of domesticated livestock and their herders for the purpose of grazing at different pastures at different time of the year between high lands (yar sa means summer land (settlement or summer grazing land) and low land (gun sa means winter settlements or winter grazing land) has been practised. The Sherpas keep the animals; Yak, Nak, Zhum and Zopkio. Yak and Zopkio are used as porters to carry the necessary goods from one place to another. However, nak and zhum are kept for milk. Before 1954, the business with Tibet was usually for salt and wool. But now-a-days, the Sherpa youths are mostly engaged in trekking, mountaineering profession, and trade and few of them are in administration and politics too. The Sherpa villages mainly on the trekking routes have been converted into small shanty towns and more and more Sherpa women have become shopkeepers and have left their original profession of potato digging and carpet weaving.


Sherpas are Himalayan people belongs to Mongolian stock. By religion Sherpas are Buddhists. Their beliefs came through the oldest sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingmapa, which started when Guru Rimpoche established Buddhism in Tibet about 1240 years ago. (Nawang, 1995)

Sherpas are religious minded people and every house has a corner set aside for their gods placed in decorated chambers. They believe in- �assume� is probably more accurate- the basic Buddhist principles of sin and merit, and of reincarnation to various states of being, exalted or miserable, depending on the amounts of sin and merit accumulated in the course of a lifetime. (Ortner,1978)

Sherpas burns incense every morning inside and outside the house for purity. They also burns butter lamps inside the home for merit making. They offer holy water in each and every morning in the name of Gods.


Census defines a literate is who can read and write by understanding and in addition can do general additions and subtraction. According to the national census 2001, the national average literacy rate is 53.7 percent. This Census presents the data of only 43 indigenous nationalities. According to that census, the literacy rate is 46.6 Percent, which is less than the national average literacy rate (53.7.) Only 16 groups have average literacy percentage higher than national average. (See table…)

The literacy rate of Sherpas is 50.4 percent which is lower than the national average. Looking at the educated indigenous nationalities, ie those who have studied from primary to bachelor or above level. Except few ethnic groups like Newar and Thakali others are in an extremely backward state. According to the census 2001, adult literacy rate (aged 15 years and above) of Sherpas is 37.4 percent and educational attainment of SLC and above (16 years and above) is only 5 percent which is very low comparison with other ethnic and caste groups of Nepal. (eg. Kayastha (50.2%), Newar (24.7%), Thakali (16.1%)

पिके सोलु टाप्टिङ सेवा समाज, काठमाडौं

मेरो सोलुखुम्बू उतरतिर सगरमाथा,ल्होत्से,नुप्त्से,आमाडब्लम,हिमशृंखलाको मधुर र रमणीय दृश्य बीचमा अवस्थित खुम्ज्युंग र नाम्चे बजार अनि छिन छिनमा मौसम परिवर्तन भई रहने कोंग्दे र खांगत्यगाको आँगनमा मनमोहक रूप सिंगारेर ट्रेकिंग र आरोहिहरुको पर्खाइमा रहेको लुक्ला बजार र लुक्ला बिमान स्थल अनि दूधकुण्डा हिमालको काखमा रहेको सदरमुकाम सोलू सल्लेरी बजार,उतर पूर्व नाम्चे देखि जोरसल्ले,फ़क्दिङ्ग,खरिखोला हुँदै देउसा ,काँकु ,बासा,पावै,लोखिम र जुभु,को काख बाट दक्षिण तिर बग्दै गरेको सेताम्य दूधकोसी नदीको कलकल र छल छल सुमधुर संगीत संगै स्याप्रू,सिली र सकेला नाच। यता जुनबेसीको शिरमा रहेको दूध कुण्ड हिमालको काखमा अवस्थित दूध पोखोरी बाट बग्ने सोलू खोलाको सुमधुर ध्वनिका साथ धामी झांक्रीको डोल ड्याङ्ग्रो र झ्याम्टा संगको नतमस्तक नाच अनि दक्षिण पक्षिममा अवस्थित उत्तर पूर्व तर्फ फर्क़ेका नेचा बतासे र बेदघारीका चाक्ला सुनौला फाँटहरू।छेउबाटै नागबेली तिल्पुंग डांडाको लहर ओखलदुंगा तिर झरेको उता चांगे थान डाँडा बाट लमतन्न संग तन्किएको लाम्जे पिके र लाम्जुरा पामु डाँडा हुँदै दूध कुण्डा हिमाल सम्मको दृश्य कम्ती सुन्दर र रमाइलो छैन । त्यसैले त प्राकृतिक शौन्दर्यताले भरिएको सोलु र खुम्बू, दृश्यअवलोकनको निम्ति बिदेशी पर्यटकहरूका लागि अति रमणीय स्थल बनेको छ।सोलुखुम्बू जिल्लाको सिमाना पूर्वमा खोटांग र भोजपुर ,दक्षिण पक्षिममा ओखाल्दुंगा र रामेछाप,उत्तर पक्षिममा दोलखा र रामेछाप जिल्लाको बिच रहेको मेरो सोलू खुम्बू जिल्ला संसारकै छानो (Roof of the world)भएको जिल्ला भएको हुंदा,सोलुखुम्बू बिश्वमै एक पर्यटकीय भूमिको रुपमा परिचित र प्रख्यात छ।त्यसैले यो जिल्ला स्थानीयबासी र बिदेशी पर्यटकहरुको लागी संधै स्वर्ग सरी भएको छ।यातायातको सुबिधा कमै भए पनि यो जिल्ला नेपालको पचहत्तर जिल्ला मध्ये एक उदाहरणीय जिल्ला बनेको छ।नेपाल अधिराज्य भरको पचहत्तर जिल्लाहरु मध्ये सवै भन्दा बढ़ी हवाई मैदान चारवट यस जिल्लामा छन र दुई अस्पताल रहेको छ। समुद्री सतह बाट ३४५मी.देखि ८८४८मि.को उच्चाईमा रहेको यस जिलाको क्षेत्रफल ३४८०बर्ग की.मी.र तेत्तिस गा.बि.स.छन।सन २००१को जनगणना अनुशार जिल्लाको जनसंख्य १,०७,६८६ रहेको छ।यस जिल्लाको प्रमुख बासिन्दाहरु राई र शेर्पहरु हुन।राईहरुको घना बस्ती भएको गा.बि.स.हरुमा जुभिंग,बुंग,छेस्क्याम,गुदेल,लोखिम,पावै,काँकु,बासा,देउसा,सोतांग,नेले,कांगेल,नेचा बतासे र नेचा बेदघारी रहेको छ भने शेर्पाहरुको घना बस्ती रहेको गा.बि.स.हरुमा केरुंग,टापटिंग,गोराखानी,गोली,भाकान्जे,गार्मा,सल्लेरी,बेनी,टाकसिन्दू,चौंरीखर्का,नाम्चे,खुम्ज्युंग,रहेको छ भने गोली,तिंगला,सल्यान र सोतांगमा सबै जातको मिश्रित जनसंख्य रहेता पनि बाहुन,क्षेत्रीहरुको थोरै मात्र बाहुल्यता छ।जुभुमा गुरुंगहरुको बाहुल्यता छ भने अन्य केही गा.बि.स.हरुमा मगर र तामांगहरु पनि छन। ओखाल्दुंग र सोलुखुम्बुको जिल्लाको सिमानामा रहेको चांगे थान देवीको मेला भदौ ऋषी तर्पणीको दिन लाग्ने गरिन्छ।साथै उक्त दिन दूध कुण्ड र देउसको बोकुल गाउँमा अवस्थित जालिम देवी मेला पनि लाग्ने गरिन्छ।चांगेथान र जालिम दिदी र बहिनी हुन भन्ने किम्बदन्ति पनि छ। भाद्र र आश्विन महिना पर्यटकहरुको ट्रेकिंग सिजन भएको हुंदा काठमांडू देखि लुक्लाको उड़ान प्रत्येक दिन अति ब्यस्त हुने गर्दछ।पर्यटकहरु जव ट्रेकिंग सकेर काठमाडू फर्किने समयमा लुक्ला एरपोर्टमा काठमांडू को असन बजार जतिकै ब्यस्तता भएको देखिन्छ।यसले के जनाउदछ भने पर्यटकहरूका लागि यो उपयुक्त थलो हो,जुन कुरा बर्सेनि पर्यटकहरूको बढ्दो चापले प्रमाणित गर्दछ।

कर्मा ग्यल्जेन सेर्पा

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