Tibetan Medicine in Rgyalthang

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Contributions to the Study of Tibetan Medicine: Special Issue of The Tibet Journal


Sociology & Anthropology


This article is an overview of Tibetan medicine in Gyalthang (rGyal thang), focusing mainly on the significance of ethnicity in the practice and use of Tibetan medicine in the area. I begin the article by discussing how the discourse on ‘traditional’ and ‘ethnic’ medicine is effectively linked to ethnic discourse in the contemporary PRC. Next, in order to provide ethnographic detail of the current practice of Tibetan medicine in Gyalthang, I move on to give brief profiles of the doctors with whom I studied in the area and to discuss the basic training and certification of a Tibetan doctor. Lastly I offer a brief introduction to the natural environment of Gyalthang, which allows for abundance of medicinal plants; because of this natural wealth, the area has much significance in terms of material resources, the access to which has become an area of increasing contestation. Much of this contestation takes the form of ethnic identity politics and provides another example of the link between ethnicity and medicine in Gyalthang.