Gongduk in Bhutan

Joshua Project has identified the Gongduk only in Bhutan

Population

2,410

Christian

0.00%

Evangelical

0.00%

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


Profile Source: Copyright © Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway


Identity

Approximately 1,000 Gongduk people live in a few extremely isolated villages in Bhutan's Mongar District. Nothing was known about this small ethnic group until the Dutch linguist George van Driem discovered them in 1991. Van Driem wrote, 'The Gongduk language is spoken by a dwindling population in a remote enclave along the Kurichu [River] in east-central Bhutan.... In May of 1991, I discovered this previously unknown language in a remote portion of Mongar District, where I was conducting a linguistic survey of the country in the serve of the Royal Government of Bhutan.... Gongduk can be reached on foot from Jepzh'ing, from which it is two or three days' journey to the south. It is also about a two days' journey up from the Manas River in the plains. This accounts for the fact that the Gongduk have remained largely unknown outside of the Gongduk area itself and its immediate environs.'


History

As van Driem studied Gongduk, he excitedly realized that he had found a unique language that appears to be the sole representative of a branch of the Tibeto- Burman family. Another source has said that Gongduk 'retains the complex verbal agreement system of Proto Tibeto-Burman. It is said to belong to one of the ancient populations of Bhutan.' Part of the reason the Gongduk remained undiscovered for so long is because the people pass themselves off as Kheng when they meet outsiders. Just why they do this is uncertain, as they have their own unique culture and language that is not mutually intelligible with Kheng. Van Driem further notes, 'There are currently just over a thousand speakers of the Gongduk language. According to one legend Gongduk was once long ago a small independent kingdom. The Gongduk themselves repeat that they are of aboriginal Dung lineage, or Dungjüt, and that their ancestors were semi-nomadic hunters.' In these respects they are similar to the Lhokpu people of Bhutan.

One has to wonder how many other small tribes and language groups exist in the hundreds of isolated valleys of the Himalayan Range. The Gongduk may have been one of the earliest people groups in Bhutan, but for uncertain historical reasons they were driven to their present location centuries ago. Bhutan was completely closed off to outside influence for centuries until 1960, when the king allowed more freedom. Little has changed in rural areas of the nation for centuries. When the Earl of Ronaldshay entered Bhutan in 1921 he reported, 'With our passage through the bridge, behold a curious transformation. For just as Alice, when she walked through the looking-glass, found herself in a new and whimsical world, so we found ourselves, as though caught up in some magic time machine fitted fantastically with a reverse, flung back across the centuries into the feudalism of a mediaeval age.'


Religion

The religious belief of the Gongduk is Tibetan Buddhism mixed with animistic spirit worship.


Christianity

Throughout two thousand years of Christianity, the good news that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world has never once entered the remote enclave inhabited by the Gongduk.



Profile Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway Copyrighted ©: Yes Used with permission

People Name General Gongduk
People Name in Country Gongduk
Population in Bhutan 2,410
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged or Unknown Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Gongdubikha, Gongdukpa
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibetan
People Name General Gongduk
Ethnic Code MSY50r
Country Bhutan
Continent Asia
Region South Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Location in Country Approximately 1,000 Gongduk people live in a few extremely isolated villages in Bhutan's Mongar District.

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.




Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Gongduk (2,400)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Gongduk 2,400
Category Resource
Largest Religion Buddhism
Buddhism
100.00%
Christianity
0.00%    ( Evangelical  0.00% )
Ethnic Religions
0.00%
Hinduism
0.00%
Islam
0.00%
Non-Religious
0.00%
Other / Small
0.00%
Unknown
0.00%
Photo Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, Paul Hattaway © Copyrighted Used with permission
Profile Source:
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
Get Involved
Register ministry activity for this group

Copyright © 2014 Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.