House of the Turquoise Roof

The following article is from the Autumn, 1990 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

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Mrs. Dorje Yudon Yuthok, third from left, ca. 1938.

By Mrs. Dorje Yuthok. 330 pp., photos, glossary. Preface by Tenzin N. Teihong. Foreword by Heinrich Harrer. Now available from Snow Lion Publications for $14.95.

Dorje Yudon Yuthok was born into the Lhasa aristocracy at a critical moment in Tibet's historyat the time of her birth in 1912 her mother had fled the capital city to escape the heavy fighting that had erupted between the Tibetan army and the Chinese forces temporarily occupying Lhasa.

Like her entry into the world, the course of Airs. Yuthok's life has continued to be closely linked to the fete of her homeland. Both her father and her husband were cabinet ministers, giving her an insider's view of the highest government circles. Reflected in this book are the timelessness of that world, its slow but unmistakable modernization, and the abrupt transitions brought about by the Chinese invasion..

Mrs. Yuthok also possesses a novelist's sensitivity for the revealing detail that brings this all but vanished world to life. She recreates the idyllic world of childhood in a wealthy Lhasa family and evokes the excitement that greeted family excursions, the New Year's celebrations, and audiences with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Her marriage in 1933 to Yuthok Tashi Dhondup, then a general in the Tibetan army, marked her entry into the adult world of family, social, and economic responsibilities. As Tibet was invaded in the 1950s the pall of confusion that fell over the country was mirrored in the dissolution of the Yuthoks' married life. Mrs. Yuthok's escape to India and eventual emigration to the United States bring her world into our own.

Filled with detail about the complex workings of family and social relations, customs and traditions, these memoirs constitute essential reading for anyone interested in Tibetan society past or present. A genealogy of the Yuthok and Surkhang families is appended together with a list of the Tibetan noble families.

This is one of those rare books that will shed insight into a whole culture and a historical period of great importance to the Tibetan people.Tenzin N. Tethong, from the Preface

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