Lag Zo: Making on the Tibetan Plateau - Shamo Thar

Shamo Thar contributed three articles for a new online exhibition on Tibetan culture.  The trilingual exhibition entitled Lag Zo: Making on the Tibetan Plateau will be formally launched in early November, 2019 at the Smithsonian Institute’s Sackler Gallery of Art.  The exhibit provides a look into contemporary Tibetan life and the various ways individuals and communities are adapting to rapid transformation.  The articles by Shamo depict three different aspects of traditional Tibetan culture.




Horse Racing

Horse racing has long been part of traditional Tibetan culture, and even appears in the epic of King Gesar—one of the world’s longest—which dates to the eleventh or twelfth century. Horse-racing festivals are an especially distinctive feature among Tibetan people. They typically take place in the summer months: when blooming flowers dot lush meadows in the vast grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau, when horses and yaks are strong, and when Tibetans enjoy the warm weather by dancing, singing, picnicking, and camping.


Folk Arts and Artisans

Tibetan folk arts may take many forms, including bowls, carpets, door curtains, woven felt, knives, mani stones, masks, tents, thangka paintings, and more. Likewise, the inspirations for Tibetan folk arts come from many sources: folk customs, folk literature, music, and the predominant religion of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan folk arts often profoundly influence the material and spiritual lives of many Tibetans in both rural and urban areas.



Since 1978, roughly 260 million people within China have moved from their birthplaces to economically vibrant cities. This massive redistribution of the population has reshaped China’s economic landscape. Tibetans have been part of this mass migration—moving from rural regions to urban cities, such as Xining, Lhasa, and Chengdu, all in western China. In Xining, a city of 2.5 million that is the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau, roughly five percent (or 120,000 people) are Tibetans. [11-19]