Posted by: oliviapontet | September 21, 2012

Xiahe and the eyes of Tibetans

This is the town of Xiahe we landed in Amdo. Xiahe is a Tibetan town located 4 hours drive from Lanzhou, capital of Gansu. We are here in the Tibetan cultural world. Xiahe is known for the Labrang Monastery, one of the six great monasteries Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the spiritual authority. This monastery, founded in 1709, hosts the largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region, there are between 500 and 600.

I have a very strange feeling arriving in this city. One enters through the Chinese city, with buildings that we see in all the cities of the world, shops, restaurants and banks. It takes about ten minutes to get through the first city before entering the Tibetan town near the monastery.

Change of scenery: the buildings are in the ground, painted in white or natural color. The soil is clay. No tar, steel or round. Only the earth and tissues. The city is dotted with religious buildings and surrounded by a corridor of ambulation and hundreds of prayer wheels.

The relationship with the Tibetans of this city is pretty weird. In the historical part, they pray, go around and go about their business of course, looks are laid and caring.
In the Chinese city the atmosphere is quite different. Even in this regard, I feel aggression, or at least looks on the defensive, ready to be violent if necessary.
I understand here how the Sino-Tibetan relations are hard and made ​​misunderstandings. Tibetans nomads are absolutely not in their element. This sedentary, over-strength and especially the people, does not find its place in the modern city and the dis-ease is palpable. Tensions 2008 are not far away and left a legacy.
I speak of forced settlement because I learned that Gogov. 20,000 rmb to give nomads to abandon their traditional tent and build a house “hard”.
I also read that Gogov. strengthened the political education devices and rehabilitation sessions are conducted for the monks access to a form of patriotic education …


Tibetan part of Xiahe is nevertheless beautiful. It is a wonder of colors, outfits and attitudes elsewhere. The benevolent astonishment bed in the eyes of Tibetans. From this side of the city, I am on the other side of the world and I feel that the meeting is possible …


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