A reporter visited Tibet
in August to investigate the changes the region has seen in the
past 40 years and the dilemmas between economic development and
cultural preservation its people face, China Newsweek
reported on September 12.
Zhang Zongxian, editor-in-chief of Tibetan Local Records ·
Folk Customs, said that though folk customs change
comparatively slowly, some in Tibet have changed more quickly in
the past decade or so than in any previous period.
Drinking buttered tea has a history of hundreds of years in
Tibet. The traditional tool for making it used to be a long
circular cylinder, taking time and much effort. Now, they can only
be found in an exhibition hall and electric butter-mixers have
Nomadic life is another dying tradition. At the beginning of
1970s, a regional policy encouraging herdspeople to build houses
and settle down was abandoned after snowstorms killed their
Despite this, Zhang said many herdspeople have settled down,
though they are still involved in some pastoral activities. He said
the local government in Nyima County of Ngaqu Prefecture gave
herdspeople 50,000 yuan (US$6,180) each to move into houses on the
According to Zhang, the regional government has sent officials
to Beijing, Hong Kong and other cities who have returned with
ambitious aims for developing Tibet. "I am afraid of such opinions.
Many people come to Tibet for its unique culture. If it is the same
as elsewhere, why would they come here?" he asked.
Gyamco said some aspects of traditional culture have been
under protection or been revived by the stimulus of tourism.
China Tibetan Culture Research Center published a set of hardcover
Tripitaka priced at more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,236).
The 10 Collection Project is collecting folk stories, idioms,
slang and ballads over ten years with investment of 330 million
yuan (US$40.8 million) and the involvement of more than 1,000
Tangkhas, three-dimensional paintings framed in silk brocade,
are auctioned and collected, and one early example was bought by an
American for US$6 million. More common ones cost US$3,000-4,000 on
the market, and more people are now drawing them.
reporter Li Jingyu visited Sera Monastery,
one of the three largest in Tibet, and met children learning
Mandarin there alongside Tibetan, one change intended to open up
opportunities for them in working and living across China as well
as in their own region.
Between September 21, 1985, when the first group of 1,300
Tibetan children were enrolled in special classes elsewhere in
China, and August 2005, the number of junior secondary school
students involved reached more than 29,000; that of secondary
technical school students, secondary normal school students, and
senior secondary school students 21,000; that of college students
and junior college students more than 6,500.
Gong Daxi, vice chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region, said that,
since 1965 when the region was established, bilingual education has
been comprehensively implemented. Usually, students study Tibetan
before third grade in primary school and afterwards study both
Tibetan and Mandarin.
In 1987, the regional government implemented a regulation on
studying, using and developing the Tibetan language. Later, it
issued a more detailed regulation stressing the importance of
studying the Tibetan language.
With the establishment of Mandarin as the common language of
China, a diversity of channels has opened for cultural exchange
between Tibet and elsewhere in the country.
(China.org.cn by Li Shen and Li Jingrong, September 25,