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COLORFUL TIBETAN WOMEN -
FASCINATING TIBETAN MEN
populace of Tibet (TAR) and Tibetan regions varies. It the
rural areas, for instance in Yushu the population is
the tourist who has more than a few days and is interested
in the Tibetan culture, the rural areas are a definite
MUST-SEE. With only a few days, the old city of Lhasa, the
Barkhor kora circuit, is the best place to witness Tibetans
in their everyday lives, dressed to the hilt, performing their rituals. At the
end of 2000, the total population of all citizens in Tibet
(TAR) was 2.62 million. In Lhasa, the Tibetan
population used to account for about 1/3, where 2/3 were
Chinese. Projections for the population to grow from 300,000
to 700,000 in coming years will change the percentages
dramatically. Travelers should consider putting Tibet on the
top of their "bucket list" before more dramatic changes
occur. Also consider visiting areas with a higher density of
Tibetan population, like Yushu in the Amdo area.
There are communities other than Tibetan who also live in
Tibetan areas; Han Chinese, Menpa, Dengs, Sherpa, and Luopa.
Religions other than Tibetan Buddhism are Islam, Catholic
and Christian, but Tibetans are strictly Tibetan Buddhists
in a very real sense. The whole of Tibetan areas, not
including the cities, is fairly wide open with only about
1.68 persons per square kilometer on the average. Of course
this includes the mountain ranges and uninhabitable lands.
Ancestors of the present
Tibetan people lived on both sides of the Tsangpo River and
made their living by growing mainly barley and raising yaks.
Nomads still live in yak-hair tents and spend their days
roaming the hillside shepherding their yaks, and now sheep.
Sheep are favored by the Chinese as was wheat during the
Tsampa, a barley staple is a highly favored food among
Tibetans. Tsampa and yak butter tea! Yum!
Since education is
expensive, more than an average nomads annual income,
education for Tibetan children of farmers and nomads is not
always possible. In the past, parents have sent their
children over the mountains to get a free education, but
that option has all but evaporated. Without education it it
difficult for Tibetans to find work other than farming or
raising animals, with a few owning tour services. Some other
Tibetans find work through the tourist industry either as
guides, peddlers, and selling photographs of their festooned
yaks. Yes, the Tibetans ARE the attraction to this
fascinating land, and with few resources this is one place
they can make a few extra dollars to feed their families.
For a few cents tourists can take wonderfully colorful
photograph of these optimistic people and their
animals...and even their children.
Since there is no welfare
system in the country, life for Tibetans is often very
difficult. The exception has been the sudden interest in
Shilajit, used as an eternal
youth serum or supplement, but as fads come and
go, this isn't a stable living for rural Tibetans. Luckily
this little run of luck has allowed them to buy motorcycles,
small solar panels for their tents and sometimes even
vehicles. Semi-nomadic lifestyle is another way of living,
having a permanent house (of mud or stone), but taking white
tents around the grasslands during the summer, rather than
being in a black yak-hair tent all year round.
Following the path of
Buddhism provides a way for Tibetans to persevere in their
hope for a better life, if not this one, then the next.
Their daily rituals, prostrations, prayers and firm commitment to reach
for enlightenment is the bond that keeps them together. The
prayer wheels, weather large or small are filled with
thousands of prayers and each turn of the wheel sends
thousands of prayers out into the cosmos. Prostrations,
repeated standing and laying down flat on the ground,
demonstrates their commitment to follow Buddha's teachings,
live the Dharma
and honor the gods.
1949 every family had at least one or more monks in their
family. Still today, there is an enormous monk population.
Monks usually reside in monasteries
where they study,
meditate and pray for their entire lives. Many times, monks
enter the monastery at a young age of 10 or 12 years. Their
job within the society is to offer service, blessings, and
rituals to honor their gods. In Tibet, perhaps one-third of
the population are monks, some still living in monasteries,
but many wandering or living back in their homes due to
regulations. There is also a large population of nuns living
in nunneries, where possible.
*To sponsor a nun or monk,
Nuns have been a part of the
religious landscape of Tibet since the 8th century.
Traditionally, their status within Tibetan society and
Buddhist institutions was not equal to that of monks. Unlike
the large monastic universities (monasteries), nunneries
were smaller, poorer and didn't often offer advanced
philosophical studies. Some nuns practiced outside of the
institutional system, remaining at home or seeking teachers
on their own initiative.
a nun is a default option for widows or those considered
unsuited for marriage; it was also common that many families
took pride in sending their daughter to a nunnery. *To
sponsor a nun, click
*It is said that the merit
from supporting one who walks the Noble path is great
especially one who renounces the world on the spiritual
path, enabling them to devote their time fully to the
practice and study of the Dharma, and ensuring that the
precious teaching of the Buddha will be preserved,
ultimately bringing great benefits to all sentient beings!"
Tibetans speak the Tibetan language, the dialect varies from
region to region. The Lhasa dialect, for instance, is
different from the Chamdo dialect and sometimes it becomes
difficult for Tibetans to communicate with one another.
an expanse of land three times the size of Europe
(pre-occupation), it is no
wonder why traditional Tibet had so many dialects. If you
look at the Tibetan written language, notice how artistic
the script is, how flowing, friendly and unique. Unlike
other Asian languages, it is not bold, square, absolute, but
rather mystical. It is interesting how the language is so
much like the people it represents. Tibetans are naturally
warm, friendly, flexible and full of character. Most of the time, they
represent their religion well, by being the sort of people
they are striving to be even under grueling and frustrating
circumstances. You'll be amazed at their enchanting smiles!
Visit Tibet before it's nuances are lost forever.
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