Daocheng County Culture

The special geographical environment and traffic conditions have kept Daocheng in a relatively closed state for a long time. Up to now, Daocheng still maintains its primitive traditional lifestyle and strong Kangba customs. At the same time, Daocheng is also a region where all people believe in religion. Tibetan Buddhism has a deep influence in the region. The glittering Lama temple, the exquisite ancient Tangka, the mysterious reincarnation system of living Buddha, the five-color prayer flags flying at the mountain top pass, and the devout worshippers, Daocheng is full of mysterious atmosphere and profound cultural and artistic connotation. Daocheng Culture introduces Daocheng County Culture Tour information about People, Language, Costumes, Cuisine, Festivals, Song and Dance, Religion, Traditional Villages, Intangible Cultural Heritages, etc.

History of Daocheng

Daocheng, the ancient name of "Daoba", means a land with open valleys and gullies in Tibetan language. During the Eastern Han Dynasty, it was a land of Bailang Qiang people. During the Tang Dynasty, it belonged to Tubo. During the Yuan Dynasty, it belonged to Xuanwei Department of Tubo. During the Ming Dynasty, it belonged to Duogan Department. During the Qing Dynasty, it belonged to Litang Chieftain. In the 33rd year of Guangxu's reign (1911 a.d.), it was officially approved to set up the "Daocheng county" in Kangding prefecture. In the 28th year of the Republic of China (A.D. 1939), Xikang Province was established and renamed as Daocheng County, which is the fifth administrative supervision area of Xikang Province. In December 1950, it belonged to the Tibetan Autonomous Region of Xikang Province. In 1955, it belonged to Xikang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Since 1955, it belongs to Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province.

People of Daocheng

According to the data of the sixth population census in 2010, the county has a total population of 28,228, including 26,954 Tibetans, accounting for 94%. The agricultural population is 25,455, accounting for 88.8%. Daocheng County had a total population of 32,450 at the end of 2011, with a natural population growth rate of 5.8‰.

The main ethnic groups in Daocheng County are Tibetan, accounting for more than 96%. There are also ethnic groups such as Yi, Han, Qiang, Miao, Hui, Mongolian, Tujia, Lisu, Manchu, Yao, Dong, Naxi, Buyi, Bai, Zhuang and Dai.

Language of Daocheng

Daocheng is dominated by Tibetans, followed by Han nationality, with few people from other nationalities. Although local residents usually communicate in Tibetan, with the development of tourism, not only Tibetans can speak mandarin, but also many mainlanders go there to do business. Tibetans in scenic spots, hotels and restaurants can speak Mandarin, so it is not a problem to communicate with locals. 

Costumes of Daocheng People

Daocheng Tibetans belong to Kangba Tibetans and their costumes are especially elegant. No matter men or women, there are decorations of different colors, shapes and patterns from head to foot, usually made of gold, silver, copper, agate, jadeite, coral, otolith, etc. Daocheng Tibetan costumes, in terms of color, style and texture, all give people a sense of simplicity and solemnity, precious and mysterious.

Cuisine of Daocheng

Daocheng Tibetans eat Zanba as their staple food(highland barley is washed, dried in the sun, fried and ground into flour, mixed with ghee tea and kneaded repeatedly by hand to form a ball before eating). Butter is extracted from milk after heating up. It is mainly used to make butter tea (including brick tea juice, butter and salt which are mixed repeatedly) and fried cheese, ginseng fruit, etc. Butter tea is a daily drink for Tibetans. The milk remaining after shortening is saccharified to make cheese. After taking the cheese, the rest of the juice is boiled until the water evaporates to make vinegar. In the winter, Tibetans hang beef in the shade to air dry. This kind of air-dried meat can be eaten raw or cooked and tastes delicious.

Festivals of Daocheng

The grand festival of Daocheng is the Tibetan New Year. At the beginning of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, men and women, old and young, greet each other as soon as they meet. During the festival, the temple will hold grand religious activities such as sutra and dancing to the gods to celebrate. People gathered around the bonfire, danced heartily, and stayed up all night. The traditional festival of Daocheng, "Gadeng Festival" comes at early July of the Gregorian calendar. Daocheng County's ethnic song and dance troupes gather on the grasslands near the county to perform ethnic songs and dances. People came to the field to set up tents for picnics, singing and dancing. At the same time, there will also be material trade fairs and national sports competitions such as horse riding and wrestling.

See more Festivals in Garze Prefecture.

Song and Dance of Daocheng

Tibetans have various ways to express their feelings. For example, Tibetan folk songs are called "Yiduo(伊朵)" in Tibetan and have a wide range of contents, including love songs, carols, pastoral songs, elegies, etc. Folk songs are free in tune, loud and bold in voice, like mountains, valleys and flowing water, with a strong plateau flavor. The wine song is called "Qiang Yi(羌依)" in Tibetan. It is a kind of song and dance performed by the people of Daocheng on holidays or when they are entertaining and drinking. Its emotion is sincere and its tune is smooth and beautiful.

  • Guozhuang
    Known as "Zhuo(卓)" in Tibetan, it is a very popular self-entertaining group dance combining singing and dancing. Guozhuang in Kangba area is divided into north, south and east Guozhuang. Daocheng Guozhuang is a southern Guozhuang.
  • String Dance
    Dancing with the accompaniment of Niu Jiaoqin(牛角琴), also known as "Xie(偕)", originated in Batang, where the scenery is beautiful and the climate is warm. When dancing, the girls like to wear a silk robe "Xia Zhi(夏志)" with thin sleeves and long length. "Xie(偕)" is a variant of "Xiazhi". The movements of string dance are subtle and gentle, which is intriguing. It celebrates love and nature. The lyrics are six words and one sentence, four sentences and one paragraph, with strict structure and gorgeous language.
  • Tap Dance
    Daocheng Tibetan tap dance was formed on the basis of Ali Tibetan dance and absorbed British tap dance. It belongs to elegant dance. A bowl full of water is placed on the top of the dancer's head. The highest level of dancing is that water does not overflow. The folk have appropriately reformed it to make it more unrestrained and generous.

Religion of Daocheng

Tibetan Buddhism has a history of more than 1,000 years in Daocheng and has far-reaching influence. The food, clothing, housing, transportation, health, old age, illness, marriage, funeral and so on of farmers and herdsmen are closely related to religion. At the same time, Tibetan Buddhism, as a culture, also includes writing, literature, craft, geography, history, astronomy, calendar, medicine, drama, poetry, dance and so on. For example, Tibetan "The Great Tibetan Sutra" is an encyclopedia.

Tibetan Buddhism has developed greatly in the whole Kangba region. Tibetan Buddhism in Daocheng not only inherits and prospers, but also has a complete range of sects and can live in harmony. There are five major sects in Daocheng, namely, the Kagyu (White), Gelug (Yellow), Sakya (Flower), Nima (Red) and Bon.

The Sectional Distribution of Tibetan Buddhism in Daocheng

  • Kagyu (White) Sect: Benbo Temple and Zhujie Temple
  • Gelug (Yellow) Sect: Gonggalangjiling temple, Chonggu Monastery
  • Sakya (Flower) Sect: Zhalang Temple and Rewu Monastery

The Funeral Customs of Daocheng

Tower Burial

Rubbing the corpse with brine, drying it in the air, coating it with precious drugs such as spices, preserving it, and storing it in gold or silver towers for people to worship. This burial method is only applicable to the Panchen Lama and a few famous grand living buddhas and chieftains. The funeral ceremony is very grand, and people in the jurisdiction must attend and give gifts voluntarily.


Cremation is one of Tibetan funeral customs. The specific method is to pour butter on firewood, then cremate the body, collect the ashes and put them into wooden boxes or crockery, and bury them downstairs in the home or on the top of the mountain or on the clean ground. The tomb looks like a tower. There are also those who pick up ashes and take them to the top of high mountains and scatter them along the wind or in rivers. After cremation, the ashes of venerable living buddhas and lamas are placed in small gold or silver pagodas. some of them are placed in different quality pagodas, while some classic books, Buddha statues, ritual vessels and gold and silver treasures are also placed in the pagodas. This kind of tower is commonly called the spirit tower or the spirit bone tower.

Celestial Burial

Celestial Burial is suitable for ordinary farmers and herdsmen. Every region has a celestial burial ground and there are special personnel engaged in this industry. The specific burial method varies slightly from place to place. Most of the monks chanted sutras, lit incense and sounded bowls and trumpets in the celestial burial ground until the eagles heard the smoke coming from all sides and pecking at the dead bodies. The griffin eagle, which specializes in cannibalism, does not harm small animals. Tibetan people call it "divine bird". The corpse offered the "gods" and prayed to atone for the sins of the dead.

Water Burial

People who have poor economic conditions and cannot afford lamas are usually buried with water when they die or when the dead are widowed or young children. When buried in water, the body is carried to the river and dismembered and thrown into the river. In other places, the bodies were wrapped in white cloth or blankets and then dropped into rivers abandoned by large stones to worship the "river gods".


This is the worst kind of funeral. Generally, people suffering from infectious diseases such as leprosy, smallpox, charcoal burning, bandits and murderers are buried in earth. Burial probably has two meanings: one is to eradicate the epidemic of plague; the other is to punish the culprits and let himgo to hell.

Etiquettes of Daocheng People

Offering Hada

This is the most common etiquette among the people of Daocheng. It is often used in farewell, giving, worshipping God and daily communication to show respect and congratulations.

Tibetan people show their respect or congratulations with Hada (a long scarf made of spun silk, mostly white but also red, yellow and light blue) in social activities such as greeting guests, praying for gods and Buddha, visiting relatives and friends, and celebrating weddings. At the grand welcoming ceremony, the host presented Hada to the guests, revealing his respect and wishing them luck. The guest returned Hada to the host as a token of gratitude and prayed for all the best.


This kind of etiquette is first seen in temples, and religious believers kowtow to show loyalty when they make pilgrimages to temples and see the Grand Living Buddha. Kowtow can be divided into three types: kowtow with a long head, a short head and a ring head. Kowtow with a short head and a ring head are common in Daocheng county. When make worship of Buddha and pilgrimage to living Buddha, kowtow with a long head and a ring head.

Toast Wine and Tea

The Tibetan people in Daocheng are warm, sincere and hospitable to their friends and relatives. The host first serves highland barley wine. When the guest drinks, first touches the wine with his index finger and plays it into the sky three times, and wishes "Zhaxidler" before drinking. He must drink three small bowls (the local highland barley wine is filled in a bowl instead of a cup). If the guest can not drink much, he can also drink less with the approval of the host as a sign of etiquette.

Traditional Villages in Daocheng

  • Yading Village, Shangri-La Town, Daocheng County甘孜藏族自治州稻城县香格里拉镇亚丁村
  • Zhongdui Village, Chitu Township, Daocheng County甘孜藏族自治州稻城县赤土乡仲堆村
  • Xiapodeng Village, Dengpo Township, Daocheng County甘孜藏族自治州稻城县邓波乡下邓坡村
  • Kasi Village, Geka Township, Daocheng County甘孜藏族自治州稻城县各卡乡卡斯村

Related Reading:

Intangible Cultural Heritages in Daocheng

National Cultural Heritage

  • Pottery firing skills (Tibetan black pottery firing skills)

Provincial Cultural Heritage

  • Tibetan Folk Songs in Western Sichuan
  • Earth Pottery Firing Technology of Ashi
  • Spinning Wood Skill in Desha

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Edited by Hellen He/何琴