Tibetan Nomads

Tibet nomads, living in the harsh conditions like extremely high altitude and inconvenient transportation, have long lived on pastoralism. Most Tibetan nomads gather in Nagchu and Ngari in Tibet, and Yushu and Golog in Qinghai, and Garnze in Sichuan. Although it is hard to tell how many nomads exactly remains, an estimated 2 million people including nomads and semi-nomads.The life of Tibetan nomads is very simple and hard. They generally live in black tents made of yak wool, or in white canvas tents. There is a stove in the center of a tent, and back the tent is a small alter with Buddhist scripture, incense, a few pictures of Rinpoche and a few butter candles. Therefore, nomad can hear the chanting of mantra throughout the day.

The weather in nomadic regions is extremely cold and often snows even in the summer. Tibetan nomads usually use quilts and skins of sheep and yaks to keep warm at night, and the dried yak dung as the fuel to cook food. Moreover, the food species they eat are few, limited to cheese, tsamba, dried yak meat, butter, yogurt, and black tea.

In Tibet, most nomads live in Nagchu prefecture with an elevation of 1,500 meters and area of 446,000 square. The pastoral area and productivity of Nagchu is the largest and highest in Tibet, one third of Tibetan animal husbandry. 90% Tibetans in Nagchu make their living on raising livestock, which accounts for 70% of the Nagchu prefecture’s income. The livestock of Tibetan nomads are mainly raised by men and older children. Every nomad family has their specific grazing area which is designated by the government, and they need to transfer 2-3 times each year.

Most Tibetan nomads are just nomads in summer days, that means they are only semi-nomads. In winter, they live in small mud-brick homes for several months. Nowadays, the nomad children need to go to school, and they are generally live in boarding schools. More and more Tibetan nomad are settled into villages and towns, so the number of Tibetan nomad is decreasing.

The grazing season of Tibetan nomads generally starts from April, and they herd hundreds of livestock to the hill. Although nomads often move from place to place, they are accustomed to stay at a place with rich grass for several days, and then transfer to a better pasture. Those who stay at low-altitude area would stay a place for almost one year for the grazing resource at lower altitudes.

From April to early October, tourists who have a Tibet tour and want to experience the nomadic culture can meet Tibetan nomads. Therefore, if you have a Lake Manasarovar kora or trek from Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp, you will meet nomads during your trekking tour in Tibet.

1.When visiting tents of Tibetan nomads, you should avoid placing your feet on the stove which is believed to be sacred by them.
2.Do not move the alter and the ornaments on it.
3.Tibetan nomads are so hospitable that they will will keep on refilling your cup when you drink off the barley wine or yak butter tea. If you can not drink that much any more, you can remind the host gently.


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