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Tibetan culture undaunted in face of modernization


(Xinhua) When night falls, singer Tseten Tashi can be found in one of the many bars across Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region.

Tonight, dressed in jeans with prayer beads wrapped around his wrist, he begins a dreamy, jazz-inspired ballad:

“The home in my dream belongs to the snowy mounts,

my heart to the rosy clouds.

The prayer wheel turns,

my lotus heart blossoms,”

As the sun rises the next day, however, the 29-year-old musician can be found in a very different environment: walking around Jokhang Temple chanting sutra. After this morning ritual, he returns home and works on new songs as fragrant coils of incense smoke fill the room.

Born into a Buddhist family in Shannan Prefecture, Tseten Tashi enjoys his life as a musician in Lhasa, where monks on smart phones walk down streets lined with fast-food chains and butter tea cafes. In the regional capital, the old and the new exist peacefully side-by-side.

Rapid development in Tibet has afforded many of its residents more comfortable lifestyles. Far from causing a “demise of Tibetan culture,” many locals have grasped modernity firmly by both hands while staying true to their traditions.

“I combine Tibetan songs with modern elements to introduce our music to the world,” said Tseten Tashi. “My family are very supportive of the music I make.”



The central government, eager to improve the primitive infrastructure that once characterized the plateau, has steady-channelled funding to Tibet since the autonomous region was founded in 1965.

Every village in Tibet had been connected to telecommunication by 2014, according to the regional government, and 600,000 people now have access to solar-generated electricity, many of whom live in remote areas uncovered by the state grid.

The Lhasa-Xigaze Line means that the elderly no longer have to struggle to complete their arduous pilgrimages by foot; and the majority of Tibetan women now choose safer hospital births over home deliveries, a major contributor to the high maternal mortality rate.

In rural Tibet, which is home to 80 percent of the region’s population, many are happy to welcome modernization and bid farewell to hardship and inconvenience.

In 2011, solar cells were installed in Boidoi Township in Shannan Prefecture, making the everyday tasks of villagers much easier.

Tsedring, 63, does not miss her wooden butter tea blender, which she said was time consuming and filthy.

“My electric one blends butter more evenly and makes better-tasting tea,” she said. “There was little skill involved in the old way we made tea, so it’s not about loosing a tradition but instead just phasing out dated approaches.”


A white paper on Tibet’s development published on Sunday said the Chinese government had made great efforts to preserve Tibetan culture.

To ensure cultural artifacts survive for the younger generation, more than 10,000 music scores, as well as song lyrics and other folk art practices, and texts containing more than 30 million written words have been collected and catalogued.

Tibetan artists now have a larger market for their work, as the region opens up and tourism booms.

In addition to the traditional Buddhist-themed compositions of Tibetan Thangka paintings, master Norbu and his students now paint less-religious scenes, which are favored by tourists.

His shop in Lhasa can sell over 30 paintings a day during high season. A devout Buddhist, Norbu donates part of his income to local temples and helps support young painters learning the delicate art.

“We didn’t have enough painters to meet demand ten years ago, as thangka painting is very time-consuming,” he explained. Today, however, more people are interested in taking up the discipline due to its popularity.

Fashion designer Tashi, who is unrelated to the musician, has built a reputation on his flair for blending Tibetan elements into his designs. Aside from traditional motifs and cuts, he also draws inspiration from the tourists he sees on the streets of Lhasa.

Tashi is confident that Tibetan textile design will survive.

“Tibetan costume [has been] adapted throughout history, absorbing Mongolian, Indian and Persian elements through the centuries,” he said.

Tashi wants to catapult Tibetan fashion designs onto the global stage. Then, with his profits, he hopes to improve the clothes worn by normal people.

“Many ordinary herdsmen have no interest in fashion, they yearn for warmer and less expensive attire.”


Real Tibet can’t oncealed by Dalai’s lies

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region. People of all ethnicities have held celebrations for this anniversary.

For all these years, there have been two Tibets in public opinion. One is the real Tibet. The other is an imaginary one hyped by the Dalai Lama clique and Western opinion who often denounced that Tibet is not what it used to be under the rule of the CPC.

The imaginary Tibet does not exist, but with the instigation of Western media and the Dalai Lama, this Tibet has a certain influence in the international opinion sphere. This is perhaps the longest-lasting lie in the modern world.

This lie even forms moral and political correctness in the Western world, which blocks Westerners from knowing about the real Tibet. Some people believe only changes in the power structure and political relations between China and the West can break the lie.

The 14th Dalai Lama is lauded as a “saint” and his image was made into a smiling and wise old man. But his record when he ruled Tibet will thwart the Western public’s notions. The Dalai Lama never dares to talk about his past. This cruel ruler in exile once received the Nobel Peace Prize plotted by Western forces. He also enjoyed the spotlight as a guest of Western leaders. But once the Western opinion reveals his shadowy past, he will be exposed as a cheater.

What should Tibet be like? Western opinion articulates it into an original ecological community with no association with the modern world. They view Tibetan people as aborigines and see all modern facilities in Tibet as destruction.

This is an unfair and unreasonable mentality. It is for the Tibetan public and Chinese people as a whole to assess the social achievements of Tibet. They know what Tibet most needs and care more about Tibet’s development than any external forces.

Tibet has achieved remarkable political progress and undergone unprecedented modern infrastructure construction. Besides, this was all done with Tibet’s culture and ecology protected. Compared to Native Americans in the US, the Tibetans have kept their originality more.

The lies told by the West will not last long. As China gradually moves to the center of the world stage, people across the world will have the chance to see the real Tibet. Tibet will help improve China’s image. The Dalai Lama clique that has become an appendage to external forces to destabilize Tibet is bound to be the loser as time goes by.

(Global Times)

Tuesday, Sep 15, 2015 12:05 pm

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