Steeped in rich traditions, Tibet is a land of rugged, breathtaking beauty and intriguing spirituality. But political repression and population engineering are radically changing the cultural landscape. Can Tibet's traditions, ethnicity and customs survive in such controversial and precarious times? To what extent has Tibet been able to maintain its cultural identity?
China's and Tibet's long and haggard history reached its dramatic climax in 1949, the start of China's invasion and illegal annexation of a country they claimed was crying out for liberation' from imperialist forces' and from the reactionary feudal regime in Lhasa', with ludicrously fabricated justification that it had the right to do so using its own colonial policies, and Mongols and Manchu imperialism. What has resulted from the bloodbath that was the past five decades can only be classified as cultural genocide. Parshing' is the Tibetan word used for the wooden blocks used in Tibetan prayer flags and manuscript printing processes. If China had its way, this term would no longer be in use. Tibetan culture is rich in heritage and custom, from yak hair tents atop the chang-thang plain, to the rich murals in the monasteries. Tibetan culture and art possesses a history of more than 5,000 years, but the practice and depiction of Tibetan Buddhism has had by far the greatest influence on this culture. The development of Tibetan culture and art proceeded through four stages: prehistoric civilization before the 7th century; cultural stability during the Tubo Kingdom; high development during the Yuan Dynasty; and the height of cultural achievement attained during the Qing Dynasty. In recognition of the fact that Tibetan Buddhism is the most integral part of Tibet's cultural pastiche, China's repression regime targets monastic orders. The Chinese government has attempted to remove the influence from monastic orders in a number of ways, initially with the closure and destruction of monasteries. Monks...
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