The Tibetan ethnic minority group is mainly distributed in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai Province (Haibei, Huangnan, Hainan, Guoluo, and Yushu Tibetan, and Haixi Mongolian-Tibetan Autonomic Prefectures), Gansu Province (Gannan Tibetan and Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures), Sichuan Province (Abei and Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures and Muli Tibetan Autonomous County), Yunnan Province (Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The population of the Tibetan ethnic minority group has reached 5.4 million according to the 5th national population census in 2000, and the people are mainly engaged in raising livestock as well as agriculture.
The Tibetan ethnic minority group originated from the Yanaon Tribe along the Yarlung Tsangpo River Basin in the 6th century, establishing the slavery kingdom known as “Bo” in Tibet. The Tubo Kingdom was established by Songtsan Ganbu in the 7th century with Luosuo ( present-day Lassa) as the capital. Ganbu married Princess Wencheng from the Tang Dynasty (618 -907 ) in 641 , which led to many positive developments in Tibet in all aspects. Tibet was called Tubo in the Tang and the Song (960 -1 279 ) Dynasties, Xifan in the Yuan (1 206 -1 368 ) and the Ming (1 368 -1 644 ) Dynasties, and Zangfan in the Qing Dynasty (1 616 -1 911 ). It didn ’t get its present name of Tibet until the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty .
In 1951, Tibet was liberated peacefully by the People ’s Liberation Army , and the Tibet Autonomous Region was established by the central government in 1 965. Between 1950 and 1965, 12 Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures and Counties were established .
The Tibetan ethnic minority group has its own Tibetan language which belongs to the Tibetan branch of the Tibetan-Burmese language group. The Tibetan language was created on the basis of Sanskrit in the 7th century, and has been revised 3 times during its evolution. The language can be divided into 3 dialects on the whole: the Weizang , Kang, and Anduo Dialects.
The Tibetans believe in Mahayana Buddhism, which has evolved into the unique Tibetan Buddhism through absorbing the contents of the local religion. Buddhism from India was introduced to Tibet in the 7th century and prospered from the 13th to the 16th century. During this time, many Buddhist temples were built in Tibetan ethnic areas. Tibetan Buddhism can be divided into many sects including the Gelug , Sakya, and Zhalu sects.
Food and Drinks
The Tibetan ethnic minority people enjoy eating tsam pa (a type of roasted bread), beef, and mutton, especially in the pastoral areas. Tsam pa is commonly eaten with milk tea or ghee tea, which is not only easy for the local people to carry, but also very convenient to eat everywhere. The Tibetan regional areas are abundant in cows and sheep, so dairy products such as yogurt and milk residues are very rich and plentiful . Main drinks for the Tibetan community are butter tea, yog urt, and highland barley wine.
Tibetan ethnic clothing varies from one area to another and often featur es long sleeves, wide belts, and side openings. Men s wear is bold and unconstrained in style, while women’s wear has a more graceful style. The Tibetan gown is very popular among the local ethnic people; women don long gowns with long sleeves in winter and long sleeveless gowns in summer, with colorful skirts tied around their waists. Different kinds of headwear are also worn, made with gold, silver, and jade accents as well as pearls and coral . The white hada silk is a traditional Tibetan gift offered to guests to show respect. Tibetan boots also play an important part in people ’s liv es, with the soles made of animal hide and leather.
The Tibetan civil residences are mainly wood- structured buildings, many built along the hillside with stones as the base foundation . The residences are generally three- storied; the first story functions as an animal shelter, the second story as the living room for the whole family, and the third for storing sundries. These layered floors ensure that the space is not only ventilated, but also very damp-proof and comfortable for the residents.
The Tibetan traditional festivals are some of the world’s most famous . There is almost one festival each month, including folk festivals and religious festivals. Among them all , the most important for the Tibetan community are the Tibetan Calendar Festival, the Linka Festival, and the Shoton Festival.
As the most ceremonial festival in Tibetan ethnic areas, the Tibetan Calendar Festival functions as the New Year celebration for locals, celebrated on the first day of the New Year according to the Tibetan calendar. On New Year ’s Eve, everyone rises early and gets dressed up in t heir best before worshipping their ancestors at home. After the worshipping rite, the whole family gets together to enjoy the New Year feast and go to visit friends and relatives in the morning to pay the New Year ’s call. Some also go to the temple to pray for happiness and good fortune in the coming year.
2. Linka Festival
As the traditional entertainment festival for the Tibetan community, t he Linka Festival is celebrated on the 1st of May in Lassa, Xigaze, and Changdu and lasts for more than 10 days. During the festival, the people visit the quiet gardens, bringing with them food, drinks, tents, and musical instruments. They pitch the tents on the vast lawns , drink wine, eat hand-grasped mutton, and play music all through the day. At the same time, many traditional activities such as horse racing and archery are held .
The Shoton Festival is the most magnificent religious festival for the Tibetan minority , is celebrated between the end of June and the beginning of July, and lasts for over 10 days. It is also called the Tibetan Opera Festival because grand Tibetan opera performances and Buddha displaying rites are showcased. As such, thousands of Buddhists from all corners of the Xinjiang Province flood into Tibet to pay pilgrimage to the Buddha during the festival; they also get together in Norbu Lingka to celebrate by playing instruments. There are also many activities such as yak-racing and singing and dancing performances .
Tibet’s attractions are mainly concentrated in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and are infamous for their incredible glory and splendor unlike anywhere else in the world. The region hosts 1 World Heritage Site (Potala Palace), 8 AAAA- level tourist areas (Potala Palace, Dazhao Temple, Barkhor Street, Tibet Museum, Norbul ingka, Zhashilunbu Temple, Basongcuo, Mount Everest, and Sangye Temple), 2 AA- level tourism areas (Ranwu Lake area and Chajiema Palace), 6 national-level nature reserves (Mount Everest Chomolangma Nature Reserve, Qiangtang Nature Reserve, Chayuciba Ditch Nature Reserve, Selincuo National Nature Reserve, and the upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo Nature Reserve ), and 2 national geological parks (Yigong National Geological Park and Zanda Tulin National Geological Park).
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