Basic information                         Tibetans in exile

Tibet geography                            Tibetan flag

History of Tibet                            Culture of Tibet

Tibet and human rights

Basic Information

The official name: Tibet, Tibetan Böjul (today the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China and parts of three other Chinese provinces)

State system: till 1951 an independent state, now under the rule of the People’s Republic of China

Capital city: Lhasa

Area: 2.5 mil km2

Population: approximately 5-6 million (according to independent estimates)

Official languages: Tibetan, Chinese

map tibet

Tibet Geography

tibetGeography Tibet consists mainly of high mountains, rivers and lakes. Tibet is the most found on the Tibetan plateau, which is its average altitude of over 4,000 meters above sea level the highest altitude plateau in the world; Tibet is therefore sometimes referred to as the “Roof of the World”.

The air is very dry in Tibet and the climate is mostly cold due to high alpine areas, although in summer the average daily temperature is often around 20°C. The major rivers are sourced in Tibet, most notably the Brahmaputra and Indus.

 

History of Tibet

The modern history of Tibet begins in the 7th century, when Söngcan Gampo succeeded in uniting the region around the river Yarlung thus creating the first stable state department on Tibetan territory. For Gampövy government Buddhism came to Tibet, which fundamentally influenced the character of Tibetan culture. During the reign of other kings, Buddhism became the state religion and the Tibetan empire continued to grow throughout Central Asia. In the 13th century the Mongols conquered Tibet. In 1578, a Mongolian ruler Altan Khan invited to his court a high-ranking lama Sonam Gyatso and granted him with the title of Dalai Lama. In 1642 was deposed former Tibetan king and his place was appointed the Dalai Lama, who thus became the first secular and spiritual ruler of Tibet. At the beginning of the 18th century, Tibet for a short time once again conquered the Mongols, who were drove out by the Chinese troops. Chinese side left Tibet the inner independence. In the 19th century, Tibet became a crossroads of strategic interests and powers of especially England and Russia in the so-called Great game. In 1904 was signed agreement in Lhasa between the British forces, secular and religious representatives of government, where they agreed mainly on trade relations. After the departure of Chinese troops from Tibet in 1912 was up to the 40s of the 20th century British garrison only foreign military component present on Tibetan territory.

More History

Turnover in Tibet’s history came in 1949, when the PRC army first entered Tibet, defeated the small Tibetan army, took half of the country and imposed the Tibetan government Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet (May 1951), by which came Tibet under the sovereignty of PRC. Since this Agreement has been taken under duress, has not ever been validated under international law. The official reason for military invasion was to “save three million Tibetans against the imperialist oppression and to ensure the protection of China’s western border.” Following the growing resistance against the Chinese presence, the level of Chinese repression was increasing, also including the destruction of religious buildings and the imprisonment of monks and other personalities. In 1959 a large uprising erupted in Lhasa. Chinese crushed it, while only in Lhasa they killed killing 87,000 Tibetans, and the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he now resides with the Tibetan government in exile. In 1963 he promulgated a constitution of a democratic Tibet. Meanwhile in Tibet itself religious oppression, persistent human rights violations or systematic destruction of historical and religious sites Chinese failed to break the will of the Tibetan people to resist. More than a sixth of the population, 1.2 million Tibetans have lost their lives as a result.

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Tibet and human rights

natureIn October 1950 units of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army marched into Tibet to “save three million Tibetans against the imperialist oppression and to protect China’s western border.” Tibetan people dissatisfied with the current situation, started against Chinese rule, and especially against the way in implementing reforms, evoking armed unrest. They first started in 1956 in Kham and Amdo. These uprisings were suppressed, but unrest spread further. A Tibet national uprising was culmination of efforts to shake off the Chinese. This began March 10, 1959 and its response continued until the following year. But that was bloodily suppressed during 1959 and 1960 it was killed around 87,000 Tibetans. In 1959, Tenzin Gyatso fled, accompanied by other members of the government in India, and later settled in Dharamsala. Currently, the Dalai Lama’s efforts focused mainly on fundamental rights and freedoms of Tibetans, and the negotiations on the status of Tibet within the PRC. Reported abuses of human rights (Amnnesty international) in Tibet include restricted freedom of religion, belief, and association.

Tibetans in exile

tibetansTibetans have been fleeing to exile since 1950s when then the Dalai Lama, along with the Tibetan government escaped to exile to India, tens of thousands of Tibetans following him. Today, after more than 50 years in exile, there are about 150,000 Tibetans spread around the world. Most of them live in India, others have settled in Nepal, Bhutan, the U.S.A. and in some European countries.

The Dalai Lama’s and the Tibetan exile government’s priority was from the beginning: to build a network of exile villages, to ensure free primary education and to protect Tibetan culture and identity.

The Tibetan exile government has managed since 1962 to build a network of Tibetan exile schools (more than 150) where the children learn their mother tongue and get to know their own traditions. They learn Hindi, English and all modern subjects as well. Traditional Tibetan medicine can be studied in the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute. Tibetan art can be studied in the Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala.

Life in exile gives Tibetans a unique opportunity to preserve their own traditions but Tibetan in exile begins to differ more and more from Tibetan in Tibet. However, young Tibetans are connected through current Tibetan music – popular singers such as Sherten or Kunga have thousands of fans both in Tibet and India.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) is referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile. Since 1950 chaired by the 14th Dalai Lama, in April 2011 the new Prime Minister Lobsang Sangye was elected.

Tibetan Flag

flag

The Tibetan flag was introduced by the thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1912 and today is used among the Tibetans in exile.

The symbolism of Tibetan flag

In the centre stands a magnificent snow-clad mountain, which represents the great nation of Tibet, widely known as the Land Surrounded by Snow Mountains.

More

The Six red bands spread across the dark blue sky represent the original ancestors of the Tibetan people: the six tribes called Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru, and Ra which in turn gave rise to the (twelve) descendants. The combination of six red bands (for the tribes) and six dark blue bands (for the sky) represents the unceasing enactment of the virtuous deeds of protection of the spiritual teachings and secular life by the black and red guardian protector deities with which Tibet has been connected since times immemorial. At the top of the snowy mountain, the sun with its rays shinning brilliantly in all directions represents the equal enjoyment of freedom, spiritual and material happiness and prosperity by all beings in the land of Tibet. On the slopes of the mountain a pair of snow lions stand proudly, blazing with the manes of fearlessness, which represent the country’s victorious accomplishment of a unified spiritual and secular life. The beautiful and radiant three-colored jewel held aloft represents the ever-present reverence respectfully held by the Tibetan people towards the three supreme gems, the objects of refuge: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The two colored swirling jewel held between the two lions represents the people’s guarding and cherishing of the self discipline of correct ethical behavior, principally represented by the practices of the ten exalted virtues and the 16 humane modes of conduct. Lastly, the adornment with a yellow border symbolizes that the teachings of the Buddha, which are like pure, refined gold and unbounded in space and time, are flourishing and spreading. (source: CTA, 6/2015, http://tibet.net/about-tibet/the-tibetan-national-flag/)

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Culture of Tibet

 

Tibetan art

norbulingkaTibet’s sacred and traditional arts are largely inspired by the Buddha’s teachings. The paintings and statues, and even the carved thrones that honour the teachings, reflect the deep, inner quality of Tibetan Buddhist culture. The institute for preserving Tibetan culture and ar tis called Norbulingka and i tis situated at Dharamsala – Northern India.

 

 

Tibetan Buddhism

monksThe Tibetan expression of Buddhism (sometimes called Lamaism) is the form of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region beginning in the 7th century CE.

Tibetan Buddhism incorporates Madhyamika and Yogacara philosophy, Tantric symbolic rituals, Theravadin monastic discipline and the shamanistic features of the indigenous religion, Bön. Among its most unique characteristics are its system of reincarnating lamas and the vast number of deities in its pantheon.

Tibetan Buddhism is most well-known to the world through the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and political leader of Tibet and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. (http://www.religionfacts.com/tibetan-buddhism)

Tibetan Language

Tibetic (or Bodic) language belonging to the Tibeto-Burman group of the Sino-Tibetan language family; it is spoken in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and in parts of northern India (including Sikkim). The language is usually divided by scholars into four dialect groups: Central, Southern, Northern (in northern Tibet), and Western (in western Tibet).

Tibetan Medicine

is an unique system containing a synthesis of the principals of physical and psychological medicine imbued with a Buddhist spiritual understanding.

Tibetan Food

momoInto the Tibetan cuisine belong: Thänthug (noodle and vegetable soup), momo (steamed bun with or without filling), butter tea (with salt, milk and butter).

 

 

butter tea

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