Who is Thangmi?

Thangmi famously known as Thami are one of the 59 indigenous peoples and nationalities in Nepal of mongoloid stock. Thamis call themselves as Thangmi or Thangmi Kham in their language referring themselves as Thangmi.  Thangmi people also use collective Nepali field surname Thami rather than opting for their respective clan names. Thangmi are densely populated in Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk district in the central eastern Nepal, and spread over 30 different districts of Nepal as well as Darjeeling and Sikkim in India.  Dolakha district is regarded to be their ancestral territory or homeland. In Dolakha their settlement is centered around Tamakoshi area the northern part of Dolakha district. Thamis are mainly found in Suspa Chhemawati, Sundrawati, Khopachgu, Alampu, Bigu, Kalinchok, Lapilang and Lakuri Danda villages of Dolakha district.

There are mainly two oral stories attached to the origin of Thami. The first assumption is that Thami were the successor of the Kirati who ruled in Kathmandu for several years until encroachment of the lichhavi ruler. After downfall of Kirati rulers, one group of Kirati headed towards eastern part of the Kathmandu valley and finally they settled in Kirat Chhap area, nearby Charikot Bazaar of Dolakha district. According to mythology, based on their oral tradition which is known as ‘Paloke’, they are the successors of Yapati Chukku and Sonari Aaji who reached the head of Tamakoshi, while travelling along the river banks of Tamakoshi River in the ancient times, from Simrongadh and Kumangadh of Sindhuli. 

They also relate themselves of being successor of Kiratis entering into Tamakoshi. The term Thangmi means peoples of pastureland or people living in the borderlands. The culture, rituals and tradition of Thami is unique. The shamans perform each ritual or custom including birth, marriage, and death rituals of them. Thangmi are followers of Kirat religion and nature worshippers. Their main occupation is agriculture, animal husbandry, weaving bangro (a coarse woolen cloth) and collecting of herbs. According to the national Census 2011, the population of Thangmi is 28,584. Of them 14,713 are Thangmi women and 13,871 are men.


Thangmis have their own mother tongue called Thangmi Kham which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language family, spoken in central-eastern Nepal and north-eastern India.  The majority of Thangmi speakers lives in Nepal and still inhabits their traditional

homeland of Dolakha district. Thangmi are spread across 30 different districts including the neighboring districts of Dolakha such as Sindhupalcok, Sindhuli and Ramechap and so forth. According to the latest national census 2011, of the total 28,584 population, as many as 23,371, the 82 percent of total population of Thangmi speak their mother tongue. Thangmis language does not have written script. Recently, there has increased writings and publications in Thangmi mother tongue. So far as many as 3-different dictionaries have been published in Thangmi language.