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Tibet History

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In the present-day world, Tibet is a hot topic for discussion. The discussion is generally centered around culture and Lamaism. Of curse, great attention is also paid to the scenery of enchanting beauty and the Tibetan people's life and customs, which are of great importance to the development of Tibetan tourism.

The Tibetan people call themselves "Bod". But in ancient times their neighbouring peoples, especially the Tujues, called them "Tu Bod". From a linguistic point of view, the word Tu may have been an article in the Tujue language, somewhat like the definite article "the" of the English language. The Tujue people were once very strong but perished completely during the Tang Dynasty of China. Later, the Mongols became powerful. They continued to use the name "Tu Bod", for historical or linguistic reasons, to call the Tibetans and with the expansion of the territory under their domination carried this word into Arabia and then through the Arabians into Europe, where the word was changed into "Tibet".

In the Chinese language Tibet is called "Xi Zang". The hieroglyphic word pronounced xi denotes "west", while the hieroglyphic word pronounced zang

Tibet History

means "the Buddhist scripture" or "Buddhist disciples". The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. In 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was established. The word "Tibet" is now the simplified name of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Xi Zang is the Chinese equivalent of that simplified term. In Chinese the name may be further simplified to "Zang" in many cases. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has an average elevation of over four kilometers. The whole region has a population of 2,810,000 people (according to statistics at the end of 2006). The population density is 2.21 persons per square kilometer. The distribution of the population is quite uneven, with most people concentrated in the southern and eastern parts. The average life expectancy has risen from 35.5 years in 1951 (before the peaceful liberation) to the present figure of 67 years.

Tibet History

Before liberation there was no science and technology to speak of in Tibet. A foreign tourist travelling in the countryside would have seen mechanisms propelled by wind or water currents. There were brief prayers to Gautama Buddha inscribed on the little wind-wheels and water-wheels. Every time these things spun, a prayer was believed to have been offered to the Buddha. Moreover, the traveler would have seen a number of flagstaffs in the land carrying beautiful silk flags, silk flags which bore some perplexing inscription. Whenever the flag flapped, it was also a prayer, very beneficial to the gentleman who paid for the flag and beneficial to the land generally, too.

Gangs of workmen, employed by pious persons, would have been seen going about the countryside cutting a prayer on cliff and stone. At Lhasa, he would have found a huge temple, and above a high altar he would have beheld a huge statue called by the congregation "Gautama Buddha!" The tourist would have felt some comfort if he was a buddhist by faith. Buddhism, founded by Gautama in India, was thriving in Tibet, though in a slightly different form, with the institution of living buddhas, while in India and even in Nepal, the neighbor of Tibet, it was extinct. The tourist would have enjoyed sailing on rivers and lakes, which Tibetans may rightly be proud of.

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