Accepted Paper:

The Spiritual Life of Female Elders in the Contemporary East Khams Gter ---- Fieldwork Report on the 'Mute Gathering' of Yutong in Western Sichuan Province  


Jianxun Guo (Southwest University for Nationalities)

Paper Short Abstract:

East Khams Gter older women in Tibet are increasingly affected by the changing social life, a weakening of women’s status, and new intergenerational relations, with weakened parental authority and caring for elders, aggravated by the disappearance of the shelter provided by public religious life.

Paper long abstract:

The East Khams Gter in Tibet stands at the crossroad of many ethnic groups, including Han culture and Tibetan culture and they have integrated Tibetan Buddhism to their culture. The senior women are regarded as the primary embodiment of religious rituals. From a Buddhist perspective, female occupy a paradoxical position: due to the superiority of the male, it is only by becoming a male in future lives through collecting merits in this life that a female can be selected as "Tulku". Meanwhile, the changing social life of the contemporary communities, the ensuing weakening of women's position and new intergenerational relations, accompanied by weakened parental authority and the lessening of caring for elders, lead to an increasing number of older women living alone. In these circumstances, female elders became the majority of participants in the" Mute Gathering" rituals aiming at collecting merits. What is advocated here is not the "Three Generations Living Together" mode but instead, a sense of family care. In the absence of a public spiritual life that provided shelter for lonely elders, female elders can benefit from the promotion of family obligations to care for older female relatives.

Panel POST-01
Poster session