CNCN Travel Web - Handy Encyclopedia of Tourism

CNCN Travel > Tibet Travel > pala-manor

Pala Manor  
Pala Manor

Pala is the short name of Pajuelakang family, which is one of the five Dipan families after Dali Lam. During the over 300 years ups and downs of Pala family, there were five persons assigned the local officials and played an important role in politics. Pala family owned mass manors and serf carried a strong old Tibet feature. The most precious is that it’s maintained in a good condition after the times vicissitude. Now it’s open to the public and serves as the evidence of Tibetan Serf system.

Originally Pala, the former owner of the Manor, was a Bhutanese chief but due to civil strife in Bhutan, he moved to Tibet with his family where in due course he became a local official. He was once the high officer in the Tibet Gelun government with great wealth. The lord of Pala manor Wangjiu had been a lama in Linpu Monastery. He managed the daily affairs of the manor after the secularization. He consolidated the manor economy, extended the manor scale and strengthened the power to rule the serf. In the days before the Democratic Reform, the manor had included twenty-two smallholdings, six lots of grassland and farmland covering some 8600 Mu (1414.45 acres). More than 14,250 cattle were grazed here and 2,440 serfs worked on the estate. Their tasks included general farm labor and animal husbandry as well as wine production. In addition many were engaged in knitting, sewing and the catering chores and other tasks necessary for the running of the estate. The peasantries had virtually no freedom, were treated harshly and suffered a very inadequate standard of living. Yet through their labor they helped provide their master with a grand lifestyle while they lived in dark and overcrowded conditions lacking amenities that could hardly be imagined in a modern society. At the time of the Tibet Democratic Reform in 1959 he left Tibet along with the Dali Lama to live in exile.

The Pala Manor we see today still has fifty-seven houses on an estate with an area of approximately 5000 square meters (1.24 acres). The main building is a three-storey structure including a scripture hall, reception hall, and bedrooms. Besides the lobby for playing the Chinese game ofmah-jong there are many other reception halls. The maze of rooms is richly decorated with exquisitely carved beams and painted rafters.

One will be genuinely amazed by the display here, for many of the original contents of the reception rooms and bedrooms remain on show. Among the items there are an ox horn that would be filled with Qingke (a highland barley wine), fine porcelain bowls for containing ghee, an ivory Majiang set as well as precious fur clothes, glass cups, tins of biscuits and whiskey imported from Britain. The sun-room walls are hung with tiger and deer skins and further evidence of the wealth of the former owner are such things as a gold saddle and two gramophones that were manufactured in Great Britain. The other recreation rooms include a modern gymnasium with facilities for table tennis, badminton and other physical training equipment like ice-skates.

There are other foreign imports ranging from mundane things such as soy sauce and vinegar to more elaborate items such as ivory fans, rock crystal glasses and wristwatches as well as a range of cosmetics that would have been used by Pala's womenfolk. There are a great many things on show that would have been luxuries some half century ago. The exhibits include many very valuable items of jewelry fashioned from sapphires, turquoise, rubies, agates, diamonds and various other precious stones. Such was the wealth that was taken for granted by the Pala family while elsewhere the visitor can see how the unfortunate peasants were treated. Manacles, instruments of torture including blackjacks and punishment cells are on view.

Nowadays, things are very different, as modern buildings have been erected around Pala Manor. The former serfs now reside in them living a happy life with their offspring. Their old shabby houses remain as relics of a cultural past. The people now breed their own cattle, horses and sheep, something they could never have dreamed of just fifty years ago.