Qinghai Lake Culture

Qinghai Lake (Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) Culture introduces Qinghai Lake Culture Tour information about People, Language, Costumes, Cuisine, Festivals, Song and Dance, Traditional Crafts, Architecture, Museums, Religion, Historical Sites, Traditional Villages, Intangible Cultural Heritages and Inheritors of Intangible Cultural Heritages.

Located at the junction of Gangcha CountyGonghe County and Haiyan County, Qinghai Lake and the areas around are home to ethnic people inlcuding Tibetan, Mongolian and Hui. Owing to the larger population of Tibetans living in the areas around the lake, Qinghai Lake culture features Tibetan folk customs. 

History of Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake became isolated from the Yellow River about 150,000 years ago. It has increased in salinity and basicity since the early Holocene.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), substantial numbers of Han Chinese lived in the Xining valley to the east. In the 17th century, Mongolic-speaking Oirat and Khalkha tribals migrated to Qinghai and became known as Qinghai Mongols. In 1724, the Qinghai Mongols led by Lobzang Danjin revolted against the Qing Dynasty. The Yongzheng Emperor, after putting down the rebellion, stripped away Qinghai's autonomy and imposed direct rule. Although some Tibetans lived around the lake, the Qing maintained an administrative division from the time of Güshi Khan between the Dalai Lama's western realm (slightly smaller than the current Tibet Autonomous Region) and the Tibetan-inhabited areas in the east. Yongzheng also sent Manchu and Han settlers to dilute the Mongols.

During Nationalist rule (1928-1949), the Han formed a majority of Qinghai Province's residents, although Chinese Muslims (Hui) dominated the government. The Kuomintang Hui general Ma Bufang, having invited Kazakh Muslims, joined the governor of Qinghai and other high ranking Qinghai and national government officials in conducting a joint Kokonuur Lake Ceremony to worship the God of the Lake. During the ritual, the Chinese national anthem was sung and all participants bowed to a Portrait of Kuomintang founder Sun Yat-sen as well as to the God of the Lake. Participants, both Han and Muslim, made offerings to the god.

After the 1949 Chinese revolution, refugees from the 1950s Anti-Rightist Movement settled in the area west of Qinghai Lake. After the Chinese economic reform in the 1980s, drawn by new business opportunities, migration to the area increased, causing ecological stresses. Fresh grass production in Gangcha County north of the lake declined from a mean of 2,057 kilograms per hectare (1,835 lb/acre) to 1,271 kg/ha (1,134 lb/acre) in 1987. In 2001, the State Forestry Administration of China launched the "Retire Cropland, Restore Grasslands"campaign and started confiscating Tibetan and Mongol pastoralists' guns, allegedly in order to preserve the endangered Przewalski's gazelle.

Prior to the 1960s, 108 freshwater rivers emptied into the lake. As of 2003, 85% of the river mouths have dried up, including the lake's largest tributary, the Buha River. In between 1959 and 1982, there had been an annual water level drop of 10 centimetres (3.9 in), which was reversed at a rate of 10 cm/year (3.9 in/year) between 1983 and 1989, but has continued to drop since. The Chinese Academy of Sciences reported in 1998 the lake was again threatened with loss of surface area due to livestock over-grazing, land reclamations, and natural causes. Surface area decreased 11.7% in the period from 1908 to 2000. During that period, higher lake floor areas were exposed and numerous water bodies separated from the rest of the main lake. In the 1960s, the 48.9-square-kilometre (18.9 sq mi) Gahai Lake (尕海, Gǎhǎi) appeared in the north; Shadao Lake (沙岛, Shādǎo), covering an area of 19.6 km2 (7.6 sq mi) to the northeast, followed in the 1980s, along with Haiyan Lake (海晏, Hǎiyàn) of 112.5 km2 (43.4 sq mi). Another 96.7 km2 (37.3 sq mi) daughter lake split off in 2004. In addition, the lake has now split into half a dozen more small lakes at the border. The water surface has shrunk by 312 km2 (120 sq mi) over the last three decades.

Religion Culture in Qinghai Lake

Tibetan Buddhism

Owing to its territorial connection to Tibet, there are many Tibetans living in Xining, Qingai. Therefore, Tibetan Buddhism has its large group of followers. There are Ga'rila Temple in Gonghe County and Shatuo Monastery in Gangcha County
Located in the southwest part of Xining City, the Kumbum Monastery or Taer Monastery is one of six famous monasteries in the Gelug (also called Yellow Hat Sect) of Tibetan Buddhism and has hundreds of monks.

Qinghai Lake Kora

Qinghai Lake Pilgrimage is an important manifestation of Buddhist believers' worship of nature. In the extremely difficult process of circumambulation around the lake, it tests their perseverance and endurance as well as their piety. It is a strong belief that supports them to complete this arduous journey of worship. In their view, it is an honor and a noble and incomparable good deed. At the same time,it does not distinguish between nationalities, regions, men and women, old and young. As long as you can walk healthily, you can start the pilgrimage, with a devout heart.

Qinghai Lake Food Culture

Residents around Qinghai Lake are mainly Tibetans and Hui, and their diet is mostly Tibetan cuisine and halal food, mainly dough pieces, noodles, beef and mutton. If you stay in a Tibetan gesthouse, you can also taste Tibetan delicacies such as Zanba, Yogurt and buttered tea. The Han cuisine in Qinghai Lake is mainly Sichuan cuisine with rich flavor. There are many restaurants in all villages and towns along the lake, but there are not many special dishes, most of which are beef and mutton.

Qinghai Lake Folk Culture

Tibetan Opera

Through the efforts of ancient folk artists and intellectuals, people created the Tibetan opera art. Generally people regard Shigatse as the birthplace of Tibetan opera, and Tang Dongjiebu as the ancestor of Tibetan opera. Tang Dongjiebu came from Shigatse, he developed Tibetan art by using folk and religious art. The Fifth Dalai Lama advocated the Tibetan Opera Festival and promoted the exchange and development of Tibetan opera. There are various kinds of performances, such as totem mask dance, white mask artistic performances, and jumping God art and so on.

Guozhuang Dance

Guozhuang Dance, also known as “Guozhuo”, “Gezhuang’ or “Zhuo”, means “singing and dancing in a circle” in the Tibetan languages. It originated from the form by which Tibetans danced around a campfire, all the time. This dance has been with the Tibetan ethnic group throughout their history. During the dance equal numbers of men and women form a circle with one person leading the dancers. The dance involves repeated musical dialogues between male and female dancers, in antiphonal style unaccompanied by any musical instruments. 

Tibetan Marriage Custom

The traditional way of Tibetan marriage would be of four stages; Matchmaking, bride-fetching, wedding and bride’s returning home.Due to the sparsely populated area, the marriage method is relatively simple. Most of the marriages are mainly the freedom to choose one's spouse. In terms of form, young people still respect the opinions of their parents. Please ask relatives and friends to be a matchmaker. The scale of the wedding depends on the both families' financial situation. On the day of the wedding, both families will hold the burning  aromatic plant ceremony to sacrifice their homeland gods. The Nagqu marriage ceremony begins as the girl and her friend would enter the boy’s house. the local people of the village would sings and dance as she walks towards the new family. The new family would welcome her to the house by offering her Chang Tibetan beer and offer bowl full of tsampa, which pinch a bit and places it on her forehead and prays, she will then  throw into the air as an offering to god. while others are busy in the welcome procession, they will be an old women from this family, shouting on the rooftop ask the bring the good luck charm to this family.

Historical or Cultural Sites around Qinghai Lake

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