Gurung - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The main occupation of Gurungs is subsistence agriculture. Millet, wheat, barley, maize, potatoes, soybeans, and rice are grown. Some households also maintain vegetable gardens. Goats, chickens, water buffalo, and oxen are kept within the villages. Sheep and water buffalo are still grazed on high-altitude pastures, but deforestation has caused a reduction of fodder and thus in the last fifty years pastoralism has become a less significant economic activity. The rugged terrain on which Gurungs farm does not allow much agricultural surplus. The most important source of cash income for Gurungs is service in the Gurkha regiments of the British and Indian armies.

Industrial Arts. Weaving is a common activity during the slack agricultural season. Women weave carrying cloths and woolen blankets, and men weave carrying baskets, winnowing baskets, and storage baskets.

Trade. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Gurungs played an important part in the salt trade with Tibet. This relationship was discontinued for political reasons in the mid-twentieth century. At present, some urban Gurungs engage in trade with India and others are prominent in contracting and transportation businesses around Pokhara.

Division of Labor. There is little formal division of labor among Gurungs. Men may not weave cloth and women may not weave bamboo or plow. Women generally look after the house, cook, and care for the physical needs of children. Men and women engage in most agricultural activities, as well as chopping wood for fuel and gathering fodder for livestock. Livestock in high-altitude pastures is most often tended by men. Metalwork, tailoring, and carpentry are performed by non-Gurung service castes who live in hamlets attached to Gurung villages.

Land Tenure. While forest and grazing land are communally owned, agricultural land is held privately. Rights to land are equally distributed among sons.

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