These webpages provide information on the culture and language of the Lepcha people


Lepcha is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Sikkim, Darjeeling district in West Bengal in India, in Ilām district in Nepal, and in several villages of Samtsi district in Bhutan. The tribal homeland of the Lepcha people is referred to as ne máyel lyáng ‘hidden paradise' or ne máyel málúk lyáng ‘land of eternal purity'. Most of the areas in which Lepcha is spoken today were once Sikkimese territory. The Lepcha are believed to be the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim. Today the Lepcha people constitute a minority of the population of modern Sikkim.

The English name ‘Lepcha' derives from Nepali lāpce or lāpcā , which originally had the derogatory connotation of ‘inarticulate speech'. Nowadays, the term ‘Lepcha' is widely used without this connotation. The Lepcha call themselves mútuncí róngkup rumkup ‘children of the Róng and of God', or simply róngkup ‘children of the Róng'. Alternatively, the Lepcha people may call themselves róng ʔágít ‘the Róng tribe'. The Lepcha word for ‘language' is ʔáríng, and the Lepcha call their own language róngríng .

 Information on this site
Despite the attention the Lepcha people have received by researchers since the middle of the nineteenth century, many aspects of the Lepcha language and culture remain undescribed.
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A detailed bibliography can be found here.
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The Lepcha have their own indigenous script which dates back to the 18th century. According to native traditions, the Lepcha script was invented by the Lepcha scholar Thikúng Men Salóng.
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The tashe sung 'Story of Lord Tashe' is considered to be the pivotal masterpiece of Lepcha literature.
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The Lepcha myths, legends, fables and tales that have been orally transmitted throughout the centuries are known as lúngten sung.
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The central religious roles in the Lepcha community are traditionally occupied by the mun and bóngthíng.
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This site is an initiative of Heleen Plaisier.
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