The Sherpas derive their name from Tibetan Shar pa (easterner), as they came the Salmo Gang region of Kham, in eastern Tibet. They were driven from this region by Mongol incursions in the late 15th century (1480-1500) and came to southeastern Tibet. From there, the group of less than fifty people moved south into the wilderness of Khumbu in 1533, which had been explored by Tibetan meditator-hermits and hunters before them. By 1553, they had moved south to lower elevations where at least some of the territory waspreviously owned by Rai peoples, who sold land to the Sherpas. They eventually prospered, totaling nearly 15,000 people by the late 20th century, and developed the land and infrastructure, building a temple in Khumbu by 1667, two more nearby in the next decade, and one in Solu by 1720. The first temple was built by a lama who had gone to study in Kham before returning to this area to found Pangboche monastery in 1667.

Based on Sherry Ortner, High Religion, Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1989. 21-26; 47-58.