One of the most fascinating aspects of visiting Tibet was seeing the clash of old versus new in what Tibetans wore and what houses they lived in. In a Tibetan family it seems that grandmothers and sometimes also mothers are still wearing traditional clothing, while daughters wear western style clothing. The men’s traditional costumes seem less conspicuous, and young men, too wear clothes you would see anywhere else.
In Lhasa, and in some of the larger other villages I’ve seen, there tends to be an old (& Tibetan) section and a new (& Chinese) part of town, which usually holds larger commercial shops and the manufacturing plants. As part of their policy of tightening their control on Tibet, the central Chinese government has been relocating many Han – Chinese into the area, often by paying bonuses or giving incentives such as free housing or education to outpopulate the Tibetan population with their own. Of the Tibetan section in Lhasa, every year a few blocks disappear to be replaced by specimens of this oh-so wonderful modern Chinese architecture: grey, square and plain ugly.
Obviously, in urban areas such as Lhasa, the Han – invasion is easier to spot than in smaller rural villages. Still, it seems that Tibetan culture is deliberately put under siege and may soon go away. So, if you want to see living Tibetan culture for yourself – go now while it’s still there. As the older generations pass away, so will a lot of this culture.
|Lhasa – Old Versus New|