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              Burial Ways Unique



              Burial Ways Unique

               

              GARMA JAMCUN

               

              Celestial burial.

              Stupa burial in northern Kam area.    WU JUN

              Celestial burial.

              Stupa burial in northern Kam area.    WU JUN

                  The Tibetan race is found not only in the Tibet Autonomous Region, but also in the four provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. No matter where they are located, they believe death means the beginning of a new round of life. Preoccupied by this belief, they show respect to the dead and bury them according to local customs and habits.

                  In the areas inhabited by the Tibetans, burial ways vary with social status of the deceased. Top treatment goes to stupa burial, followed by cremation and celestial burial which is the most popular with the Tibetans.

                  Under ancient influence, some follow the cave, building, platform, indoor, tree and other forms of burials rarely seen in the world.

                  In some localities, burial in the ground dominate but dead children follow the burial in water.

                  Following are special burial habits of the Tibetans.

                  BURIAL IN CAVES. This form of burial is found mainly in the Tibetan area in Beima, Gansu Province. In this part of the world, the dead is bathed and put on new clothes before being tied into the squatting or sitting stances. When all these are done, they are left in a pit. The pit is sealed with a wooden plant and covered with dirt.

                  COFFIN BURIAL. This is popular with the Tibetans in Zhouqu, Gansu Province. For the couple, one who dies first is contained in a coffin. And the coffin is left by the cliff, cropfield and crossroad without being buried underneath. Generally, there is a huge rock on the coffin for fear that the dead would be attacked by wild animals. When the other of the couple is dead, he/she would be left in the same coffin with his/her spouse and buried in the ground. This is designed to make the couple inseparable during their next life.

                  BUILDING BURIAL. This is also called household burial popular with the Tibetans in Kangnan. The dead is buried at the corner of the top floor of the house. However, the dead has to be one much revered, a prestigious lama, one who enjoyed long life, one who had five generations in the family, and one who dares to hold justice.

                  PLATFORM BURIAL. This is popular with Tibetans in Batang, Kangnan. Stones are used to make a platform measuring one meter wide and one meter high. The dead is tied into the shape of a foetus, and put into a wooden box on the stone platform. When all these are done, numerous pieces of stone are used to cover the box.

                  INDOOR BURIAL. This is popular with Tibetans in Kangbei. It is suitable for one who lived 80 years or longer. The dead is tied into a dough, with the eyes, ears, nostrils and mouths stuffed with butter, gold, silver or gems. The body is left in a wooden box or huge jar, which is stuffed with highland barley ears and other cereals. The box or jar is then sealed for cremation 10 years later. Ashes thus produced are poured into the river or buried in the ground. As such a burial takes a decade, it is also called duel burial.

                  TREE BURIAL. This is popular with Tibetans in Nyingchi and Kangbei, and applied mainly to the dead infants. The body is cleaned with salt water before left in a wooden box, wooden basket or bamboo basket. It is hung halfway up a tree or a branch. Though the Tibetans in the above-mention area believe it would help prevent the repetition of the family misfortune, it is not common as children do not die from time to time.

                  RED-HAND BURIAL. When a less-than-two-month-old baby dies, its hands are painted red. The body is tied into the shape of foetus and contained in a back basket. The basket containing the dead baby is tied with two large pieces of rock and buried by the river. When the river rises, the body is carried away. Down the river is usually placed with a stone slab inscribed with sutra lines and worshipped with butter lamps and Mani poles.

              Sweatened Tea Houses

              In Tibet

              PUNCOG ZHAXI

               

               

              Sipping tea in the Xoigunggyai Tea House is really entertaining.

              Sipping tea in the Xoigunggyai Tea House is really entertaining.

              Outside a sweetened tea house in Lhasa are parked numerous bicycles and motorcycles. Inside are seated crowds of people.

                  In Lhasa and other parts of Tibet, there are many tea houses like this. Drinking sweetened tea has become a Tibetan tradition. Many say Tibetans learned to drink sweetened tea from the British invaders. But many others argue that the Tibetans learned it from the Indians and Nepalese. While most Tibetans make sweetened tea in a way unique to themselves, people in Yadong and Gyangze, close to India, follow a method similar to that in India.

                  The Tibetans make sweetened tea also with black tea, but with a taste different from that made by the British, Indians or Nepalese.

                  People in their 80s still remember the few sweetened tea houses in Lhasa and Xigaze. Beggars went there to seek money, and prostitutes looked for customers. Facing this situation, people of decent status and women tried to shun these tea houses as much as possible.

                  Nonetheless, the Tibetans loved sipping sweetened tea at home. Ordinary people made sweetened tea with home milk, while the rich did so with canned milk imported from India. Be they poor or rich, they drank two or three cups of sweetened tea generally in the afternoon. Sweetened tea was also served at wedding feasts.

                  Famous sweetened houses in the past included the Bottom Leaking Tea House, which sold bottomless dumplings stuffed with minced meat; the Owl Tea House, open at night only; and the Donkey Drivers?Tea House, where people from rural areas gathered.

              Cezhoi Tea House, also called Guangming store Restaurant, is one of the most attractive.

              Cezhoi Tea House, also called Guangming store Restaurant, is one of the most attractive.

              Brewing sweetened tea.

              Brewing sweetened tea.

               

              Locang Tea House, one of the oldest.

              Locang Tea House, one of the oldest.

               

               

               

               

               

              A Mosque tea house.

              A Mosque tea house.

               

              Outside a sweetened tea house. Photos by WANGQUG

              Outside a sweetened tea house. Photos by WANGQUG

              MODERN TEA HOUSES. Before the notorious cultural revolution , in which the whole of China reeled from 1966-76, most sweetened tea houses in Lhasa were privately owned. They were all banned and didnt reopen until Chinas introduction of the reform and opening program.

                  Market economy being practiced in Tibet proves to be a hotbed for the revival of sweetened tea houses. Over the last 20 years, they flourished with each passing day. In order to attract customers, many play pop music, and add entertainment facilities such as caroms, Chinese chess and playing cards. There are also those who install large color Tvs, VCD and DVD players.

                   Most of these tea houses are not elegantly decorated. Drinkers get their own glasses from a plate. Each is required to use only the one allotted to him. They sit around a wooden table, on which they put their coins. Whenever the girls come to fill their glasses, they give them coins to pay for the tea and possibly also as a tip.

                  Most tea sippers are Tibetans. People with a high education tend to shun tea houses which lure customers with entertainment facilities. They tend to chat while sipping tea in a quiet atmosphere. Old Lhasans love to talk loudly in certain tea houses....

                   It has become a custom for working Lhasans to drink tea in the morning, but not in the afternoon. However, people from the rural areas, who do odd jobs in Lhasa, love to join the jobless in drinking sweetened tea in the afternoon and playing caroms.

               

               

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