Oct 12, 2005

Tibet trip: agrarian lifestyle

Tibet, like China, is primarily agrarian. Half-breed yaks, cows, goats, and sheep are common. The occasional pure-bred yak can also be seen. Dogs are ubiquitous, especially in the countryside and in monasteries outside of Lhasa. One of the local Tibetan guides in Gyantse explained that Lhasa also had many dogs living in its monasteries until the Chinese invaded and ate most of them. [I'm not making that up]

Wandering cows eating garbage in the streets of Damxung town, near Nam-tso. In many of the small towns I saw handfuls of dairy cows wandering around foraging for trash.

A yak strolling down the main street of Damxung.

A pack of sleeping dogs at Nam-tso. I was tempted to not let them lie.

Above: A dolled-up yak atop Yumbulagang monastery. I think this is really a dzo, the yak-cow hybrid.

A man taking his cows for an early morning walk in Gyantse.

A monk mixing tsampa (roasted barley flour) with water to feed to the dogs at the Palkor Chöde Monastery, Gyantse. Did you know that during a Tibetan Sky Burial, they break up the bones of the deceased and mix it with tsampa so that the vultures and wild dogs will eat all the remains?

The dogs love it. Note how the gold-colored dog on the far left is waiting his turn. When I was observing, one of the other smaller dogs ate something one of the bigger dogs wanted for himself; the big dog took a painful bite out of the side of the smaller one. The monk then poured some cold water on the agressor.


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