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2006-02-21 09:44:34

Their dress is very beautiful and distinctive, very elegant and poised. In addition, they adorn themselves with expensive gold pieces and jewelry such as agates, emeralds, and coral. The clothing and jewelry is passed down from generation to generation and as family heirlooms become a Khamba symbol of wealth.

Monasteries in Changdu

The Tibetans call themselves Bod-pa, which means "people living in the Bod region." It is believed that the name Bod is derived from the name Bon, an animist religion popular with many Tibetans prior to the advent of Buddhism in the region. Followers of the Bon faith held that everything in the world has a soul. Monks held various kinds of sacrificial activities. In the 7th century when Buddhism spread to Tibet, it collided head on with the Bon religion. In response, the Bon religion, which was previously very primitive, began to develop in theory and organization.

The Garma Monastery is 120 km away from Changdu, standing on the upper reaches of the Zhaqu River. In order to go to the monastery one has to pass through a place called Let. Legend has it that on the slope of Let there was a Bon monastery whose master ordered his attendant monks to guard the road and let no outsider pass. One day, a hungry dog came and the monk on guard let it pass, thinking it was a harmless animal. The master panicked on hearing the news and left the monastery shortly thereafter. The hungry dog was an incarnation of Master Garmaba Duisum Qenba, who had built the Garma Monastery. This episode signifies the creation of the Garma Gagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism in this part of the world.

Statistics from 1991 show 55 monasteries in the Chamdo Prefecture, including 31 in Dengqen, nine in Zogan, six in Gyamda, five in Lholung, three in Baxoi and one in Changdu Town. There is a 17-meter high Buddha Maitreya Statue, the largest clay sculptured Buddha statue of its kind.

Qiangbalin Monastery is similar to other major Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries, with well-preserved statues, frescos and Tangkas. It is the largest one among those of the Gelugpa,the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism in the Khamba Area. The main Buddha here is Qiangba Buddha. The monastery is famous for its religious dance ceremony called Guqing which is performed every Tibetan New Year. Dancers perform in splendid costumes with gruesome masks, all their movements in harmony with one another. Such religious dances are famous thoughout the whole Tibetan plateau.

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