Tibet customs and local conditions

Legends spread far and wide among the Klo-pas and gTingpas in the southeast part of Tibet that all Tibetan peoples descended from the same mother since the creation of the world.

Actually, forefathers of these nationalities–the Zang (Tibetan), the Monpas, the Klo-pas, the gTingpas and the Sharpas — were the earliest pioneers of the Tibetan plateau.

Later, the Mongolian, the Han and the Hui nationalities joined in and set up a very close relationship with them. But, owing to the most inaccessible living conditions to the outside, they have developed a series of colourful customs and rituals quite distinct from those of other people.

The most conspicuous feature of all the customs is their different ways of dressing. In Lhasa, you can see the typical Zhang clothes. Men wear collarless gowns with a long sleeve to match on the right shoulder, and women wear long-sleeves dresses gracefully with rainbow-like “pang-gdan” (apron). And you can also see, in the street of Lhasa, women of Gongpo and Dapu wear sleeveless jackets trimmed with golden corner decorations and long waistcoats with opens down the front gaily coloured striped woolens on either side, and with caps hemmed around with golden lace.

The standard wear for Klopas and gTingpas, near to the dress of YunNan’s south westerner’s is a half-sleeved blouse made of black gunny with buttons down the front and a skirt that cover the knees. Hopa men wear short pullover waistcoats and always carry with them a saber and bow and arrows as symbols of masculinity.

The Monpas lives in Metog county
where the weather is very much like that of Jiang Nan (southern part of Yangtse), and the wear for Monpa women is a white apron that cover the feet, using cottoncloth with stripes on it.
Both Tibetan sexes love ornaments of every kind such as earrings, strings of beads, especially the ornaments gTingpa women wear have a unique style.
They wear a sort of large silver adornments on their forehaeds and funnel-shaped earring in their earlobes.

The Tibetan also have their own ideas about food.
A most favourate staple food of Tibetans is rtsampa–
the parched “qinke” barley ground into meal, which is usually sopped in buttered tea into paste balls.

The Zang ancestors took pain in cultivation “qinke” barley, crops suited to frigid area, and in domesticating highland animal husbanddry yak called as “nor” (cowry) by native Tibetans. Qinke, rtsampa, butter and milk curds are the essentials of life out of which various kinds of nutritious food can be made.

Therefore these food are regarded as symbols of happiness for the Zang.
On birthday or marriage ceremonies, people often put a pinch of buttered rtsampa on women’s and children’s foreheads as a cup when people joyfully celebrate their festival, they would offer “gro-gso-phyemar” —- a rectangled wooden dipper filling in buttered rtsampas and parched barley with ears of qinke, cockscombs and livestock models made of butter inserting in it –as aupicious, lucky and happy omens.

As for the Klopas, the Monpas and the sTingpas, living in rDza-yul and the southern slope of Himalayas, they have to, in accommodation to the weather, plant corn, paddy and “chickenclaw rice” —- a kind of millet. So a common dish for these races is “chicken-claw rice” powder porridge going with pepper To their west, the Sharpas eats thick corn porridge. Hungtig is very popular among them. Men take hunting as their profession to compensate inadequate supply of food.

According to the ancient custom, a hunter’s prey should be shared with his neighbours or even with all the villagers except beasts’ head, skin, musk and bear’s bile. Hunters usually hang up beast skull on the porch to show masculinity. Klopa and sTingpas have no integrated calendar of their own and have no festival.

For them, youngmen’s contests including arrow-shooting and sword-dancing has well been the great tribal occassions. Besides, some wealthy Klopa families hold ceremony called “Sou-bai-pa” after autumn harvest, sacrificing big cattle to memorialize the dead.

“Mellow wine is offered to the guests just arrived.”
Hospitallity is of a commendable Tibetan quality, just as famous as Tibetan barley beer. Though they may have wild herbs themselves, they would never entertain guest without offerring the best wine they poccess.

In Metog county, if you are a guest in a Monpa house. The hotress will continuely urge you to drink water-wine until you have drunk up all. What’s more, drinking is accompanied with pleasant songs and so formed a special literary form — drinking songs, extempore compositions of beautiful words to stimulate the guests appetite to drink more. What follows is one of the drinking songs quoted to conclude our introduction of Tibet, a heroic place of China!