Lhasa, which means "holy land" or "Buddha land" in Tibetan, has been the cultural, economic, political and religious center of Tibet since the ancient times. Tibet used to be a theocratic state, and the Potala Palace was a symbol of theocracy many centuries ago. It is famous for its beautiful scenery, long history, unique folk customs and situations, and strong religious color. Therefore, cultures in Lhasa mainly inlude historical culture, Tibetan culture and Tibetan buddhism culture.
History of Lhasa
Lhasa makes the world yearn for not only its altitude of 3650 meters above sea level, but also its history of 1,300 years. In the 7th century, Songtsan Gambo, after annexing neighboring tribes and unifying Tibet, moved the capital from Yalong(雅隆) to Luozi(today's Lhasa) and established the Tubo dynasty. When princess Wencheng of the Tang dynasty married the Songtsan Gambo, this region was still a barren grass beach, and later on, Jokhang Temple and Ramoche Temple were built. After the temples were built, the number of missionaries and people who came to worship the Buddha gradually increased. Around Jokhang temple, many hotels and residential houses were built successively, forming the prototype of the old city with jokhang temple as the center. At the same time, Songtsan Gambo expanded the palace (the present Potala Palace) in Hongshan, so other palaces on the Lhasa valley plain was built successively as well. Therefore, the famous plateau city at home and abroad was formed from then on. Lhasa gradually became the "holy land" and "Buddha land" in people's hearts, and became the center of religion, politics, economy and culture in Tibet at that time.
More History of Lhasa
Religions in Tibet have different stories due to its long history, but generally it is categorized by three main religions as Animism, Bon and Buddhism. The main religion in Tibet has been Buddhism since its outspread in the 8th century AD. The historical region of Tibet (the areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans) is nowadays mostly comprised by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, and partly by the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan. Before the arrival of Buddhism, the main religion among Tibetans was an indigenous shamanic and animistic religion, Bon, which now comprises a sizeable minority and which would later influence the formation of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tibetan Buddhism is a wonder in the history of human civilization, an important part of the traditional culture of the Chinese nation, and a collection of the essence of architecture, sculpture, painting, writing, music, dance, folk customs and other aspects. The Tibetan Buddhism that spreads in Lhasa includes Nyingma, Kargyu, Gelug school and so on. Tibetan Buddhism is the main religious culture in Lhasa Tibet.
- Sera Monastery
- Ramoche Monastery
- Ganden Monastery
- Zaki Temple
- Drepung Monastery
- Jokhang Temple
- Tsurphu Monastery
- Pabonka Monastery
- Yangpachen Monastery
- Nechung Monastery
- Muru Nyingba Monastery
- Jiang Qulin Monastery
- Xiongse Monastery
- Drak Yerpa Monastery
- Drigung Thil Monastery
Ethnic Groups in Lhasa
Lhasa covers an area of nearly 31000 square kilometers and a downtown area of 544 square kilometers, with a population of about 902,500 in 2016. Lhasa has Tibetan, Han, Hui and many other ethnic groups, of which Tibetan is the main ethnic group, accounting for about 87% of the total population.
Traditional Ethnic Village
Traditional Chinese villages generally refer to villages that are formed earlier, have rich cultural and natural resources, have certain historical, cultural, economic, and social values and should be protected. According to the published list of traditional Chinese villages, Lhasa currently has several villages on the list. As follows:
- Chikang Village in Jiama Township of Maizhokunggar County, Lhasa拉萨市墨竹工卡县甲玛乡赤康村
- Lianba Village in Jangraxa Township of Lhunzhub County, Lhasa拉萨市林周县江热夏乡连巴村
- Tunda Village in Toinba Township of Nyemo County, Lhasa拉萨市尼木县吞巴乡吞达村
Intangible Cultural Heritages and Its Inheritors in Lhasa
With a large number of Tibetan people, Lhasa has many intangible cultural heritages with strong Tibetan characteristics, including Tibetan Kuozi(廓孜), Reba dance, Xierongzhongzi(协荣仲孜), Tibetan ore and plant pigment making techniques, Tibetan Year, etc. Every intangible cultural heritage has its inheritors, who play a vital role in the promotion and inheritance of culture.
- Intangible Cultural Heritages in Lhasa
- Inheritors of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Lhasa
- The First Batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List
- The Second Batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List
- The Third Batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List
Various Tibetan festivals are celebrated in different ways in Lhasa. It is suggested to visit Lhasa during the festivals and enjoy the lively scenes with the local Tibetan people if time is sufficient. Except for popular Shoton Festival and Tibetan New Year Festival, other festivals like Butter Lanter Festvial, Saga Dawa Festival, Ganden Thangka Unveiling Festival are fun and attractive as well.
- 5 Days Tibet New Year Festival Tour
- 5 Days Ganden Ngachen Chenmo Festival Tour
- 6 Days Shoton Festival Experience Tour
- 7 Days Gyantse Damar Festival Tour