THE WRANAHS. A STORY OF DISCOVERING, AND FORGETTING THE TIBETAN TRIBES OF AMNYE MACHEN
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Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture has a reputation for its bare landscape, severe climate and wild temperament of its inhabitants: the Golok nomads, whom the literature on Tibet made into a symbol of banditry and outlawness. Golok, however, is not home only to Goloks. In and around the Amnye Machen mountains, the range of Tibet's holy peaks, the majority of the population belong to Wranah tribes. The Wranahs, claiming different origins and speaking a dialect other than the Goloks', see themselves as different from their neighbors with whom they share the area they live in, but history and identity only to a certain degree. Contemporary Western literature is silent about the Wranahs, but old reports by the colonial era explorers reveal much about the Wranah tribes from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. This article follows the Wranahs from the time they entered the pages of Russian and Western writings until the moment they suddenly and for a long time disappeared from the ethnographies of the region. It thus attempts to re-introduce the Wranahs into the Western academic literature.
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