Tibet ( , ; ) is a plateau region in Asia and disputed
territory, north of the Himalayas.
is home to the indigenous Tibetan
, and to some other ethnic groups such as Monpas
, and is now
also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese
people. Tibet is the highest region
, with an average elevation
of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft). It is
sometimes referred to as the roof
of the world
. e.g.Dieter Glogowski: Tibet, Escape from
the Roof of the World
or Hopkirk 1983
or Tibet. Tourism Watch
Alec le Sueurs:Running a
Hotel on the Roof of the World – Five years in Tibet
or Spiegel OnlineTibet by Rail. By train on
the roof of the world.
During Tibet's history
, it has
existed as a region of separate sovereign areas, a single
independent entity and as a part of successive Chinese dynasties.
Tibet was first unified under King
in the 7th
. At various times from the 1640s until 1950s, a
government nominally headed by the Dalai
, a line of spiritual leaders, ruled a large portion of
the Tibetan region. During most of this period, the Tibetan
administration was subordinate to the Chinese empire of the
the 13th Dalai Lama expelled
representatives and troops from Tibet.Shakya 1999, pg. 5
Kapstein (2006), p. 171.
Goldstein 1997, pg. 30
While the expulsion was seen as an assertion of Tibetan autonomy,
Tibet's proclaimed independence was not accepted by the government of China
did Tibet receive foreign diplomatic recognition.Contemporary
Tibet: Politics, Development, and Society in a Disputed Region
by Barry Sautman and June Teufel Dreyer, New York: M.E.Sharpe
Clark, Gregory, "In fear of China
", 1969, saying: '
Tibet, although enjoying independence at certain periods of its
history, had never been recognised by any single foreign power as
an independent state. The closest it has ever come to such
recognition was the British formula of 1943: suzerainty, combined
with autonomy and the right to enter into diplomatic
Grunfeld, A. Tom, "The Making of Modern Tibet
B; Independence: Third-party views. p258
a decisive battle at Chamdo in 1950, the
Communist Party of China
gained control of Kham, the next year the
14th Dalai Lama and his government
signed the Seventeen
In 1959, he together with a group of
Tibetan leaders and followers fled to India and set up the Government of Tibet in Exile
Beijing and the Government-in-exile disagree over
when Tibet became a
part of China, and whether the incorporation into China of Tibet is
legitimate according to international
. Since what constitutes
is a matter of much debate (see map, right), neither its
size nor population are simple matters of fact, due to various
entities claiming differing areas as part of "Tibet".
Himalayas, on the southern rim of the
"Tibet" names and definitions are linguistically and politically
Standard Tibetan endonym (or autonym) Bod བོད་ means "Tibet" or "Tibetan Plateau", although
it originally meant the central region "Ü-Tsang".
The standard pronunciation of
, is transcribed Bhö
scholars believe the first written reference to Bod
"Tibet" was the ancient "Bautai" people recorded in the (ca. 1st
century) Periplus of
the Erythraean Sea
and (ca. 2nd century) Geographia
The two Standard Mandarin exonyms
for "Tibet" are classical Tǔbō
now specifies the "Tibet
name for Tibet" was first transliterated into
as 土番 in the 7th-century (Li Tai
) and as 吐蕃 in the 10th-century (Book of Tang
describing 608–609 emissaries
from Tibetan King Namri Songtsen
Emperor Yang of Sui
). In the
spoken during that
are reconstructed (by
. Xizang 西藏 was
coined during the Qing Dynasty period of
the Jiaqing Emperor (r.
1796–1820). The People's Republic
of China government equates Xīzàng with the
Xīzàng Zìzhìqū 西藏自治区 "Tibet Autonomous
dates back to 1827. While historical linguists
that "Tibet" names in European languages are loanwords
from Arabic Tibat
they disagree over the original etymology
Many sources propose Tibetan Stod-bod
) "Upper Tibet", some suggest Turkic Töbäd
"The Heights" (plural
), and a few favor Chinese Tǔbō
Tibetan language is generally
classified as a Tibeto-Burman language
of the Sino-Tibetan language
family although the boundaries between 'Tibetan' and certain other
can be unclear.
According to Matthew Kapstein:From the
perspective of historical linguistics, Tibetan most closely
among the major
languages of Asia. Grouping these two together with other
apparently related languages spoken in the Himalayan lands, as
well as in the highlands of Southeast
Asia and the Sino-Tibetan frontier regions, linguists have
generally concluded that there exists a Tibeto-Burman family of
More controversial is the theory that the
Tibeto-Burman family is itself part of a larger language family,
and that through it Tibetan and Burmese are distant cousins of
The language is spoken in numerous regional dialects which,
although sometimes mutually intelligible, generally cannot be
understood by the speakers of the different oral forms of Tibetan.
employed throughout the Tibetan plateau and Bhutan and is also
spoken in parts of Nepal and northern
India, such as Sikkim.
general, the dialects of central Tibet (including Lhasa), Kham
and some smaller nearby
areas are considered Tibetan dialects. Other forms, particularly
, and Ladakhi
, are considered by their speakers,
largely for political reasons, to be separate languages.
if the latter group of Tibetan-type languages are included in the
calculation then 'greater Tibetan' is spoken by approximately 6
million people across the Tibetan
Tibetan is also spoken by approximately
150,000 exile speakers who have fled from modern-day Tibet to India
and other countries.
Although spoken Tibetan varies according to the region, the written
language, based on Classical Tibetan, is consistent throughout.
probably due to the long-standing influence of the Tibetan empire,
whose rule embraced (and extended at times far beyond) the present
Tibetan linguistic area, which runs from northern Pakistan in the west
to Yunnan and Sichuan in the east,
and from north of the Kokonor lake (Qinghai)
south as far as Bhutan.
The Tibetan language has its own
that it shares with Ladakhi
, which is derived from the
ancient Indian Brahmi
The general history of Tibet begins with the rule of Songtsän Gampo
(604–50 CE) who united
parts of the Yarlung
Valley and founded the Tibetan Empire. He also brought in
many reforms and Tibetan power spread rapidly creating a large and
powerful empire. In 640 he married Princess Wencheng
, the niece of the
powerful Chinese emperor Emperor Taizong of Tang
next few Tibetan kings, Buddhism became established as the state
religion and Tibetan power increased even further over large areas
of Central Asia, while major inroads were made into Chinese
territory, even reaching the Tang's
capital Chang'an (modern
Xi'an) in late
However, the Tibetan occupation of Chang'an only lasted
for fifteen days, after which they were defeated by Tang and its
ally, the Turkic Uyghur
Nanzhao (in Yunnan and
neighbouring regions) remained under Tibetan control from 750 to
794, when they turned on their Tibetan overlords and helped the
Chinese inflict a serious defeat on the Tibetans.
the hold of Tibet was loosened by the campaign of general Gao Xianzhi, who tried to re-open the direct
communications between Central Asia and
750 the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian
possessions to the Chinese
after Gao Xianzhi's defeat by the Arabs
and Qarluqs at the Battle of Talas (751),
Chinese influence decreased rapidly and Tibetan influence
In 821/822 CE Tibet and China signed a peace treaty.
bilingual account of this treaty, including details of the borders
between the two countries, is inscribed on a stone pillar which
stands outside the Jokhang temple in
Tibet continued as a Central Asian empire until the
13th, 14th and 15th centuries
Mongolian prince Kadan
conquered Tibet in the
1240s and made the Sakya Pandita
Mongolian viceroy for Central Tibet, though the eastern provinces
of Kham and Amdo remained under direct Mongol rule. When Kublai Khan founded the Yuan
Dynasty in 1271,
Tibet became a part of it.
Tibet in 820 in relation to the other
Between 1346 and 1354, Tai
Situ Changchub Gyaltsen
toppled the Sakya and founded the
following 80 years saw the founding of the Gelugpa school (also known as Yellow Hats)
by the disciples of Tsongkhapa Lobsang
Dragpa, and the founding of the important Ganden, Drepung, and
monasteries near Lhasa.
16th and 17th centuries
In 1578, Altan Khan
of the Tümed
Mongols gave Sonam
, a high lama of the Gelugpa school, the name Dalai
being the Mongolian translation of the
Tibetan name Gyatso, or "Ocean".
The first Europeans to arrive in Tibet were the Portuguese
missionaries António de Andrade
Marques in 1624. They were welcomed by the King and Queen of
Guge, and were
allowed to build a church and to
introduce Christian belief.
The king of Guge eagerly
accepted Christianity as an offsetting religious influence to
dilute the thriving Gelugpa
counterbalance his potential rivals and consolidate his position.
All missionaries were expelled in 1745.
In the 1630s, Tibet became entangled in power struggles between the
and various Mongol and Oirat
of the Khoshud
became the overlord
over Tibet, and acted as a "Protector of the Yellow Church". Güshi
helped the fifth Dalai
establish himself as the highest spiritual and political
authority in Tibet and destroyed any potential rivals.
Manchu Qing put Amdo under their control in 1724, and incorporated
eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese
provinces in 1728.
The Qing government sent a resident
commissioner, called an Amban
Lhasa. In 1751, Emperor Qianlong
the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of
Tibet leading the government, namely Kashag
century saw some contact with Jesuits and
Europe, and in 1774 a Scottish nobleman, George Bogle, came to Shigatse to
investigate trade for the British East India
However, by the 19th century the situation of foreigners in Tibet
grew more tenuous. The British
Empire was encroaching from northern India into the Himalayas, the
Emirate of Afghanistan and
the Russian Empire were
expanding into Central Asia and each
power became suspicious of the others' intentions in Tibet.
Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, the
Hungarian scientist spent 20 years in British India (4 years in
Ladakh) trying to
He created the first Tibetan-English
By the 1850s, Tibet had banned all foreigners other than the
the British began
secretly mapping Tibet.
Trained Indian surveyor-spies
disguised as pilgrims
or traders counted
their strides on their travels across Tibet and took readings at
In 1904, a British
expedition to Tibet
under the command of Colonel Francis Younghusband
, accompanied by a
large military escort, invaded Tibet and reached Lhasa. The British
were spurred in part by a fear that Russia was extending its power
into Tibet, and partly by hope that negotiations with the Dalai
Lama would be more effective than with Chinese representatives. But
on his way to Lhasa, Younghusband slaughtered many Tibetan troops
who tried to stop the
mission reached Lhasa, Younghusband imposed a treaty which was
subsequently repudiated, and was succeeded by a 1906 treaty signed
between Britain and
In 1910, the Qing government sent a military expedition of its own
to establish direct Chinese rule and deposed the Dalai Lama in an
imperial edict. The Dalai Lama once again fled, this time to
British India, in February 1910.
The 13th Dalai Lama returned to Tibet from India in July 1912
(after the fall of the Qing dynasty), and expelled the Amban and
all Chinese troops. In 1913, the Dalai Lama issued a proclamation
that stated that the relationship between the Chinese emperor and
Tibet "had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on
the subordination of one to the other." "We are a small, religious,
and independent nation," the proclamation continued. For the next
thirty-six years, Tibet enjoyed de facto
while China endured its Warlord era
, and World War II
. Some Chinese sources argue that
Tibet was still part of China throughout this period.
Tibet under the People's Republic of China
of Tibet in 1950 and the subsequent Seventeen
Point Agreement, the PRC asserted
control over Tibet.
Chinese sources generally claim progress towards a prosperous and
free society in Tibet, with its pillars being economic development,
legal advancement, and peasant emancipation. These claims, however,
have been refuted by the Tibet Government-in-Exile and some
indigenous Tibetans, who claim of genocide in Tibet from the
Chinese government, comparing it to Nazi
. The official doctrine of the PRC classifies Tibetans
as one of its 56 recognized ethnic groups and part of the greater
multi-ethnic Chinese nation. Warren Smith, an independent scholar
and a broadcaster with the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia
, whose work became focused
on Tibetan history and politics after spending five months in Tibet
in 1982, portrays the Chinese as chauvinists who believe they are
superior to the Tibetans, and claims that the Chinese use torture,
coercion and starvation to control the Tibetans.
Snow mountains in Tibet
Traditionally, Western (European and American) sources have
regarded Tibet as being in Central
, though today's maps show a trend toward considering all
of modern China, including Tibet, to be part of East Asia
.. Some academic institutions also
include Tibet in their South Asia
programs. Tibet is west of China proper, and within China, Tibet is regarded as part of 西部 (Xībù), a term
usually translated by Chinese media as "the Western section",
meaning "Western China".
Tibet has some of the world's tallest mountains, with several of
them making the top ten list. Mount
, is the highest mountain
on Earth, located on the border with Nepal.
Several major rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau
(mostly in present-day Qinghai Province). These include
Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus River, Mekong, Ganges, Salween and the
Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra River).
The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon
along the Yarlung Zangbo River
is among the deepest and longest canyons in the world.
and Brahmaputra rivers originate from a lake (Tib: Tso Mapham) in
Western Tibet, near Mount Kailash.
mountain is a holy pilgrimage for both Hindus
and Tibetans. The Hindus consider the mountain to be the abode of
Lord Shiva. The Tibetan name for Mt. Kailash is Khang Rinpoche.
Tibet has numerous high-altitude lakes referred to in Tibetan as
. These include Qinghai
Lake, Lake Manasarovar,
Namtso, Pangong Tso, Yamdrok Lake, Siling Co, Lhamo La-tso, Lumajangdong Co, Lake Puma Yumco, Lake Paiku, Lake Rakshastal, Dagze Co and
Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) is the largest lake in the People's
Republic of China.
The atmosphere is severely dry nine months of the year, and average
annual snowfall is only 18 inches, due to the rain shadow
effect whereby mountain ranges
prevent moisture from the ocean from reaching the plateaus. Western
passes receive small amounts of fresh snow each year but remain
traversable all year round. Low temperatures are prevalent
throughout these western regions, where bleak desolation is
unrelieved by any vegetation beyond the size of low bushes, and
where wind sweeps unchecked across vast expanses of arid plain. The
exerts some influence on
eastern Tibet. Northern Tibet is subject to high temperatures in
the summer and intense cold in the winter.
Cultural Tibet consists of several regions. These include
Amdo (A mdo) in the northeast, which
is under the administration as part of the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan.
Kham (Khams) in the southeast, is divided
among western Sichuan, northern Yunnan, southern
Qinghai and the eastern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
) (Ü in
the center, Tsang in the center-west, and Ngari (mNga'
) in the far west) covered the central and western portion
of Tibet Autonomous Region. The distribution of Amdo and eastern
Kham into surrounding provinces was initiated by the Yongzheng Emperor
during the 18th century
and has been continuously maintained by successive Chinese
The current effective eastern part of the boundary between China
and India is the McMahon Line
. South of
the McMahon Line between China and India, the region popularly
known in China as South Tibet
claimed by People's Republic of China and the Republic of China as
part of the Tibet Autonomous
. It is currently administered by India as the
majority part of the state of Arunachal
Tibet Government in Lhasa altered its
position on the McMahon Line in late 1947 when the local Tibetan
government wrote a note presented to the newly independent Indian
Ministry of External Affairs laying claims to the Tawang (inhabited
by mostly ethnic Tibetans) south of the McMahon
Line. However, the current Tibet government
in exile which was founded in 1959, does not include any area south
of the McMahon line in their official claim of the territory of
Tibet. It also accepts the McMahon Line as the official border
between southeastern Tibet and India.
cultural influences extend to the neighboring states of Bhutan, Nepal, regions of
India such as Sikkim, Ladakh, Lahaul, and Spiti, and adjacent
provinces of China where Tibetan
Buddhism is the predominant religion.
Cities, towns and villages
over 800 settlements in Tibet, Lhasa is Tibet's
traditional capital and the capital of Tibet Autonomous
Region. Lhasa contains the world heritage site the
Potala Palace and
residences of the Dalai Lama.
contains a number of significant temples and monasteries, including
Jokhang and Ramoche Temple.
Shigatse is the
second largest city in Tibet, west of Lhasa. Gyantse and
Chamdo are also
amongst the largest.
cities in cultural Tibet include, Nagchu,
Tingri; in Sichuan, Kangding
(Dartsedo); in Qinghai, Jyekundo or Yushu,
Machen, and Golmud.
also a large Tibetan settlement in South India near Kushalanagara.
India created this settlement for Tibetan refugees who had fled to
The Tibetan economy is dominated by subsistence agriculture
. Due to
limited arable land, the primary occupation of the Tibetan Plateau
is raising livestock, such as sheep
, and horses
. The main crops
grown are barley, wheat, buckwheat
potatoes, and assorted fruits and vegetables. Tibet is ranked the
lowest among China’s 31 provinces, on the Human Development Index
according to UN Development Programme data. In recent years, due to
increased interest in Tibetan Buddhism, tourism
has become an increasingly important sector,
and is actively promoted by the authorities. Tourism brings in the
most income from the sale of handicrafts. These include Tibetan
hats, jewelry (silver and gold), wooden items, clothing, quilts,
fabrics, Tibetan rugs
and carpets. The
Tibetan economy is heavily subsidized by the Central government.
Qingzang railway linking the region
to Qinghai in China proper was opened in 2006.
Chinese government claims that the line will promote the
development of impoverished Tibet. Opponents argue the railway will
January 2007, the Chinese government issued a report outlining the
discovery of a large mineral deposit under the Tibetan Plateau.
deposit has an estimated value of $128 billion and may double
Chinese reserves of zinc, copper, and lead. The Chinese government
sees this as a way to alleviate the nation's dependence on foreign
mineral imports for its growing economy. However, critics worry
that mining these vast resources will harm Tibet's fragile
ecosystem and undermine Tibetan culture.
On January 15, 2009, China announced the construction of Tibet’s
, a 37.9-kilometre
stretch of road in southwestern Lhasa. The project will cost 1.55
Ethnic Tibetan autonomous entities set
up by the People's Republic of China.
Opponents to the PRC dispute the actual level of
Historically, the population of Tibet consisted of primarily ethnic
and some other ethnic
groups. According to tradition the original ancestors of the
Tibetan people, as represented by the six red bands in the Tibetan
flag, are: the Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra. Other traditional
ethnic groups with significant population or with the majority of
the ethnic group reside in Tibet (excluding disputed area with
India) include Bai people
, Nu people
, and Yi people
The issue of the proportion of the Han
population in Tibet is a politically sensitive one and
is disputed. The Central Tibetan Administration, an exile group,
says that the PRC has actively swamped Tibet with Han Chinese
migrants in order to alter Tibet's demographic makeup.
See also: Tibetan diaspora
According to the website of the non-governmental
"Save Tibet", the Tibetan people are denied most
rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of
, including the rights to self-determination,
freedom of speech, assembly, movement, expression, and travel. See
also the downloadable book: A Great Mountain Burned by Fire:
China's Crackdown in Tibet
Elliot Sperling, an Associate
Professor of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University, in a statement
to Human Rights Watch
introduced his new book that graphically detailed the exile of
Tibetans today and the role human rights violations played in
forcing many Tibetans to leave their homeland.
According to the Chinese government, the human rights situation in
Tibet has been greatly improved, especially emphasised is the
emancipation of millions of serfs
in Tibet in late 1950s.
stated that political prisoners are often tortured, sometimes
fatally. Unofficial sources report that since 1987, at least 41
Tibetans throughout Tibet are recorded as having died as a result
of torture in prisons or shortly after release.
Author Thomas Laird claims that there is no evidence to support
China's claim that Tibet is autonomous, as all local legislation is
subject to approval of the central government in Beijing.
Pro Tibet demonstrators in the fountains of Trafalgar Square,
London during the 2008 Olympic Rally
The Tibetan government-in-exile claims that China does not allow
independent human rights organisations into Tibet, and foreign
delegations invited to Tibet are denied independent access to meet
with Tibetans. The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
claims that more than 11,000 monks and nuns have been expelled from
Tibet since 1996 for opposing "patriotic re-education" sessions
conducted at monasteries and nunneries under the "Strike Hard"
Thomas Laird also claims that China continues to encourage the
transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet. Transnational Radical Party
claims this threatens the survival of the Tibetan racial, cultural
and national identity.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy claims that
unemployment among Tibetans is high. It also considers the taxation
system to be arbitrary, which further exacerbates the conditions of
poverty for Tibetans in rural areas.
Intergroup of the European
Parliament has around 100 MEPs as members.
is extremely important to the
Tibetans and has a strong influence over all aspects of lives. Bön
is the ancient religion of Tibet, but has been almost eclipsed by
, a distinctive
form of Vajrayana
, which was introduced
into Tibet by Padmasambhava
Buddhism is practiced not only in Tibet but also in Mongolia, parts of
northern India, the Buryat Republic,
the Tuva Republic, and in
the Republic of Kalmykia and
some other parts of China besides Tibet.
, nearly all
ransacked and destroyed by the Red
. A few monasteries have begun to rebuild since the 1980s
(with limited support from the Chinese government) and greater
religious freedom has been granted – although it is still limited.
Monks returned to monasteries across Tibet and monastic education
resumed even though the number of monks imposed is strictly
Tibetan Buddhism has four main traditions (the suffix pa
is comparable to "er" in English):
- Gelug, Way of
Virtue, also known casually as Yellow Hat, whose
spiritual head is the Ganden Tripa and
whose temporal head is the Dalai Lama.
Successive Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet from the mid-17th to mid-20th
centuries. This order was founded in the 14th to 15th century by
Je Tsongkhapa, based on the
foundations of the Kadampa tradition.
Tsongkhapa was renowned for both his scholasticism and his virtue.
The Dalai Lama belongs to the Gelugpa school, and is regarded as
the embodiment of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
- Kagyu, Oral
Lineage. This contains one major subsect and one minor
subsect. The first, the Dagpo Kagyu, encompasses those Kagyu
schools that trace back to Gampopa. In turn,
the Dagpo Kagyu consists of four major sub-sects: the Karma Kagyu, headed by a Karmapa, the Tsalpa Kagyu, the Barom Kagyu, and
Pagtru Kagyu. The once-obscure Shangpa
Kagyu, which was famously represented by the 20th century
teacher Kalu Rinpoche, traces its
history back to the Indian master Niguma, sister of Kagyu lineage
holder Naropa. This is an oral tradition
which is very much concerned with the experiential dimension of
meditation. Its most famous exponent was Milarepa, an eleventh
- Sakya, Grey
Earth, headed by the Sakya Trizin,
founded by Khon Konchog Gyalpo, a disciple of the great translator
Drokmi Lotsawa. Sakya Pandita
1182–1251CE was the great grandson of Khon Konchog Gyalpo. This
school emphasizes scholarship.
Muslims have been living in Tibet since as early as the eighth or
ninth century. In Tibetan cities, there are small communities of
, known as Kachee (Kache), who
trace their origin to immigrants from three main regions: Kashmir
(Kachee Yul in ancient Tibetan), Ladakh and the Central Asian
Turkic countries. Islamic influence in Tibet also came from Persia.
After 1959 a group of Tibetan Muslims made a case for Indian
nationality based on their historic roots to Kashmir and the Indian
government declared all Tibetan Muslims Indian citizens later on
that year. Other Muslim ethnic groups who have long inhabited Tibet
. There is also a well established Chinese Muslim
community (gya kachee), which traces its ancestry back to the
ethnic group of China.
The first Christians to reach Tibet were undoubtedly Nestorians
of whom various remains and
inscriptions have been found in Tibet and they were also present at
the imperial camp of Möngke Khan
Shira Ordo where they debated in 1256 with Karma Pakshi
(1204/6-83), head of the Karma Kagyu
Roman Catholic Jesuits
arrived from Europe
in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some scholars believe Portuguese
missionaries Jesuit Father Antonio de
and Brother Manuel Marques first reached the kingdom of
in western Tibet in 1624 and was welcomed
by the royal family who allowed them to build a church later on. By
1627, there were about a hundred local converts in the Guge
kingdom. Later on, Christianity was introduced to
Rudok, Ladakh and Tsang
and was welcomed by the ruler of the Tsang
kingdom, where Andrade and his fellows established a Jesuit
outpost at Shigatse in 1626.
Some sources suggest the First
Jesuit missionary is Johann Grueber
who, circa 1656, crossed Tibet from Sining
Lhasa (where he spent a month), before heading on to Nepal. He was
followed by others who actually built a church in Lhasa. These
included the Jesuit Father Ippolito
, 1716–1721, and various Capuchins in 1707–1711,
1716–1733 and 1741–1745, Christianity was used by some Tibetan
monarchs and their courts and the Karmapa
sect lamas to counterbalance the influence of the Gelugpa
sect in the seventeenth century until in
1745 when all the missionaries were expelled at the lama's
the Protestant James Cameron from the
China Inland Mission walked
from Chongqing to
Batang in Garzê Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Provnice, and "brought the
Gospel to the Tibetan people." Beginning in the 20th
century, in Diqing Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan,
a large number of Lisu people and some Yi and Nu people converted
missionaries include James O.
, Alfred James Broomhall
and Isobel Kuhn
of the China Inland Mission, among
others who were active in this area.
Tibetan representations of art are intrinsically bound with
or variations of Buddha
in various forms from bronze Buddhist
statues and shrines, to highly colorful thangka
paintings and mandalas
Tibetan architecture contains Oriental and Indian influences, and
reflects a deeply Buddhist
, along with two dragons,
can be seen on nearly every Gompa
design of the Tibetan Chörtens can
vary, from roundish walls in Kham to squarish,
four-sided walls in Ladakh.
The most distinctive feature of Tibetan architecture is that many
of the houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites
facing the south, and are often made out of a mixture of rocks,
wood, cement and earth. Little fuel is available for heat or
lighting, so flat roofs are built to conserve heat, and multiple
windows are constructed to let in sunlight. Walls are usually
sloped inwards at 10 degrees as a precaution against frequent
earthquakes in the mountainous area.
at 117 meters in height and 360 meters in width, the Potala Palace is the
most important example of Tibetan architecture.
residence of the Dalai Lama
, it contains
over one thousand rooms within thirteen stories, and houses
portraits of the past Dalai Lamas and statues of the Buddha. It is
divided between the outer White Palace, which serves as the
administrative quarters, and the inner Red Quarters, which houses
the assembly hall of the Lamas, chapels, 10,000 shrines, and a vast
library of Buddhist scriptures.
of Tibet reflects the cultural heritage of the trans-Himalayan
region, centered in Tibet but also known wherever ethnic Tibetan groups are found in India, Bhutan, Nepal and further
First and foremost Tibetan music is religious music
, reflecting the profound
influence of Tibetan Buddhism
often involves chanting
, as an integral part of the
religion. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts
or in celebration of various
chanting, performed without metrical timing, is accompanied by
and low, sustained syllables.
Other styles include those unique to the various schools of Tibetan
Buddhism, such as the classical music of the popular Gelugpa
school, and the romantic music of the
Nangma dance music is especially popular in the
karaoke bars of the urban center of Tibet,
Another form of popular music is the classical gar
style, which is performed at rituals and
are a type of songs that
feature glottal vibrations and high pitches. There are also epic
bards who sing of Tibet's national hero Gesar
Tibetan sand mandala
Tibet has various festivals which commonly are performed to worship
the Buddha throughout the year. Losar
Tibetan New Year Festival. Preparations for the festive event are
manifested by special offerings to family shrine deities, painted
doors with religious symbols, and other painstaking jobs done to
prepare for the event. Tibetans eat Guthuk (barley crumb food with
filling) on New Year's Eve with their families. The Monlam Prayer Festival
follows it in
the first month of the Tibetan
, falling on the fourth up to the eleventh day of the
first Tibetan month. which involves many Tibetans dancing and
participating in sports events and sharing picnics. The event was
established in 1049 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Dalai Lama
and the Panchen Lama's order.
Potala Palace, former
residence of the Dalai Lamas, is a
World Heritage Site, as is
summer residence of the Dalai Lama.
Since 2002, Tibetans in exile have allowed a Miss Tibet beauty
in spite of concerns that this event is considered a
Western influence. The beauty contest is condemned by the Tibetan
government in exile.
The most important crop in Tibet is barley
and dough made from barley flour called tsampa
, is the staple food
of Tibet. This is either rolled into noodles or made into steamed
dumplings called momos
dishes are likely to be yak
, or mutton
often dried, or cooked into a spicy stew
is cultivated in Tibet, and therefore features heavily in
its cuisine. Yak yoghurt
frequently eaten, and well-prepared yoghurt is considered something
of a prestige item. Butter tea
popular to drink.
Tibet in popular culture
In recent years there have been a number of films produced about
Tibet, most notably Hollywood films such as Seven Years in Tibet
starring Brad Pitt
, and Kundun
, a biography of the 14th Dalai Lama
, directed by Martin Scorsese
. Other films include
Samsara, The Cup and the 1999 Himalaya, a French-American produced
film with a Tibetan cast set in Nepal and
In 2005, exile Tibetan filmmaker Tenzing Sonam and
his partner Ritu Sarin made Dreaming
, the first internationally recognized feature film
to come out of the diaspora to explore the contemporary reality of
, is a film about Tibetans protecting the Tibetan antelope
from poachers. It won
numerous awards at home and abroad.
- Beckwith 1987, pp. 11–36
- "We are a small, religious, and independent nation." "Proclamation Issued by His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIII
- TIBET IS RIGHTFULLY AN INDEPENDENT STATE
- Beckwith 1987), pg. 7
- G. W. S. Friedrichsen, R. W. Burchfield, and C.T. Onions.
(1966). The Oxford Dictionary
of English Etymology. Oxford University Press, p.
- Behr, Wolfgang, (1994). "Stephan V. Beyer The Classical
Tibetan Language (book review)", Oriens 34, pp. 558–559
- Partridge, Eric, Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary
of Modern English, New York, 1966, p. 719.
- Kapstein 2006, pg. 19
- Kapstein 2006, pg. 22
- Beckwith 1987, pg. 146
- Marks, Thomas A. (1978). "Nanchao and Tibet in South-western
China and Central Asia." The Tibet Journal. Vol. 3, No. 4.
Winter 1978, pp. 13–16.
- 'A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions. H. E. Richardson.
Royal Asiatic Society (1985), pp. 106–43. ISBN
- Laird 2006, pp. 112–113
- Laird 2006, pp. 142–143
- Lettera del P. Antonio de Andrade. Giov de Oliveira. Alano Dos
Anjos al Provinciale di Goa, 29 Agosto, 1627; Maclagan, The Jesuits
and The Great Mogul, pp. 347–348.
- When Christianity and Lamaism Met: The Changing
Fortunes of Early Western Missionaries in Tibet by Lin Hsiao-ting
of Stanford University
- Stein 1972, pg. 83
- Rene Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes, New
Brunswick 1970, p. 522.
- Wang Jiawei, "The Historical Status of China's Tibet", 2000,
- Wang Jiawei, "The Historical Status of China's Tibet", 2000,
- Teltscher 2006, pg. 57
- Smith 1996, pp. 154–6
- Anglo-Chinese Convention
- Shakya 1999, pg. 5
- " Proclamation Issued by H.H. The Dalai Lama XIII"
- Tibet during the Republic of China
- Powers 2004, pp. 11–12
- Warren Smith's profile on Guardian
- Powers 2004, pp. 23–24
- Illustrated Atlas of the World (1986) Rand McNally
& Company. ISBN 528-83190-9 pp. 164–5
- Atlas of World History (1998) HarperCollins. ISBN
0-72-301025-0 pg. 39
- Hopkirk 1983, pg. 1
- Center for South Asia Studies: University of California,
- Center for South Asia Outreach UW-Madison
- Center for South Asian Studies
this sources admits in certain contexts that Tibet and Afghanistan
are South Asian
- http://www.basas.org.uk/ Tibetan and Afghan flag shown
- Rutgers, SAS South Asian Studies: – Home
- South Asian Studies at Emory
- Circle of Blue, 8 May 2008 China, Tibet, and the
strategic power of water
- Petech, L., China and Tibet in the Early XVIIIth Century:
History of the Establishment of Chinese Protectorate in
Tibet, p51 & p98
- Lamb, Alastair, The McMahon line: a study in the relations
between India, China and Tibet, 1904 to 1914, London, 1966,
- Map of Tibet from website of CTA
- "The McMahon Line is the international boundary" said
the Representative of the Dalai Lama. Interview with Tashi Wangdi, David Shankbone,
November 14, 2007.
- Globalization To Tibet
- Tibet Environmental Watch – Development
- In pictures: Tibetan nomads. BBC News.
- Human Rights Violations in Tibet, Statement by Elliot
Sperling, June 2000
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- Laird 2006, pp. 352–357
- Human Rights in Tibet at a glance
- Reporters sans frontières – China
- Tibet: Tightening of Control [TCHRD – Publications –
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- Untitled Document
- Violation of Subsistence Rights [TCHRD –
Publications – 1999 – Tibet: Tightening of Control]
- Tibetan monks: A controlled life. BBC News.
March 20, 2008.
- Tibet During the Cultural Revolution Pictures
from a Tibetan People's Liberation Army's officer
- The last of the Tibetans Los Angeles Times.
March 26, 2008.
- TIBET'S BUDDHIST MONKS ENDURE TO REBUILD A PART OF
THE PAST New York Times Published: June 14, 1987.
- Laird 2006, pp. 351, 352
- Avalokitesvara, Chenrezig
- Masood Butt, 'Muslims of Tibet', The Office of Tibet,
- Kapstein 2006, pp. 31, 71, 113
- Stein 1972, pp. 36, 77–78
- Graham Sanderg, The Exploration of Tibet: History and
Particulars (Delhi: Cosmo Publications, 1973), pp. 23–26; Thomas
Holdich, Tibet, The Mysterious (London: Alston Rivers Ltd., 1906),
- Sir Edward Maclagan, The Jesuits and The Great Mogul (London:
Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), pp. 344–345.
- Lettera del P. Alano Dos Anjos al Provinciale di Goa, 10
Novembre 1627, quoted from Wu Kunming, Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang
Huodongshi (Beijing: Zhongguo Zangxue chubanshe, 1992), p.
- Extensively using Italian and Portuguese archival materials,
Wu's work gives a detailed account of Cacella's activities in
Tsang. See Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang Huodongshi, esp. chapter
- Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet, and of
the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa, pp. 295–302. Clements
R. Markham. (1876). Reprint Cosmo Publications, New Delhi.
- Stein 1972, p. 85
- Lettera del P. Antonio de Andrade. Giovanni de Oliveira. Alano
Dos Anjos al Provinciale di Goa, 29 Agosto, 1627, quoted from Wu,
Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang Huodongshi, p. 196; Maclagan, The
Jesuits and The Great Mogul, pp. 347–348.
- Cornelius Wessels, Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia,
1603–1721 (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1924), pp. 80–85.
- Maclagan, The Jesuits and The Great Mogul, pp. 349–352; Filippo
de Filippi ed., An Account of Tibet, pp. 13–17.
- Relação da Missão do Reino de Uçangue Cabeça dos do Potente,
Escrita pello P. João Cabral da Comp. de Jesu. fol. 1, quoted from
Wu, Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang Huodongshi, pp. 294–297; Wang
Yonghong, "Luelun Tianzhujiao zai Xizang di Zaoqi Huodong", Xizang
Yanjiu, 1989, No. 3, pp. 62–63.
- Kapstein 2006, pp. 31, 206
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Asia: A History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans,
Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages' (1987)
Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02469-3
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The Demise of the Lamaist State (1989) University of
California Press. ISBN 978-0520061408
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Tibet, and the Dalai Lama (1997) University of California
Press. ISBN 0-520-21951-1
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Dalai Lama (2006) Grove Press. ISBN 0802118275
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of Reincarnations (2001) Clear Light Publishers. ISBN
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the People's Republic of China (2004) Oxford University Press.
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and its History Second Edition, Revised and Updated (1984)
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(1999) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11814-7
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University Press. ISBN 0804709017
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Panchen Lama and the First British Expedition to Tibet (2006)
Bloomsbury UK. ISBN 0747584842
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Younghusband Mission to Lhasa. London: John Murray, 2004. ISBN
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The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London, ISBN
0-7102-1370-0. New York, ISBN 0-14-019118-6.
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Grove Press. NY, NY. ISBN 0-8021-3574-9
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Group International, 2007
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Cadre 1904–1947. London: Curzon. ISBN 0-7007-0627-5.
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History, Religion and People. Reprint: Penguin Books
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Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun. Kodansha America, Inc. ISBN
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Century: History of the Establishment of Chinese Protectorate in
Tibet. T'oung Pao Monographies, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN
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Tibetan Societies. Smithsonian ISBN 1-56098-231-4.
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Shangri-La from the Himalayas to Hollywood. Henry Holt. ISBN
- – (online version)
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Trek Across the Rooftop of the World. Contemporary Books. ISBN
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- Tibet wasn't always ours, says Chinese scholar
by Venkatesan Vembu, Daily News & Analysis, 22 February
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