Tibetan men typically lead simple lives. For nomads, much of life consists of taking the yaks up and down the mountain to graze. Men are in charge of periodically going to the nearest town to buy supplies such as medicine, vegetables or clothes. They also are the spiritual leaders of the family. They are in charge of educating the family about Buddhism and leading the family in Buddhist scripture reading, praying and pilgrimages to holy places. Traditionally men are also responsible for making homemade clothes such as coats (chuba) and boots. This first picture is of a yak herder from Drido (Zhiduo) county in Kham.
Tibetan men can come across as looking ferocious or violent, but in reality most of them are very kind and fun loving. You can tell which region of Tibet men come from by the types of clothing or accessories they are wearing. Men from Kham often wear a red or black sash woven in their long hair. Amdo men have a cross design along the bottom of their chuba's (long Tibetan coat). Tibetan men from all regions carry a set of prayer beads on them either around their neck, around their wrist or in their hand. Knives (more like swords in some regions of Tibet) are found their sides. An amulet or picture of the Dalai Lama is worn around the necks of more fervent followers of Buddhism. In remote regions of Tibet, men wear boots made of yak skin. In other regions of Tibet they wear Chinese made shoes or boots. Men, especially in Shigatse and other towns in Tsang, like to drink homemade alcohol called "chang" (pronounced as "chong" in some dialects). Alcoholism is a major problem among many men. With the relocation of many nomads into towns, gambling and fighting are becoming bigger problems as well. Over the past 5+ years, I have had the privilege of meeting many men from all across Tibet. Almost always I have found them to be very hospitable, generous and having a good sense of humor. This second picture was taken in Chamdo (Changdu) county in Kham.
In the northern regions of Tibet above 4000m, winters are brutally cold with temperatures dropping to -30C or colder. Men wear full length chuba's lined with sheep fur. The sleeves on these coats are overly long usually extending down to the knee. Men in these regions wear hats lined with fox fur. Even their boots are lined with fur. When it becomes "warm" (warm could be -10C / 14F to a nomad!), men will take their right arm out of their coat and let the coat sleeve hang down. In the summer time, they will take both arms out of their coat and wrap the sleeves around their waist (such as in the 2nd picture). This third picture is of a man from Mado (Maduo) county in Amdo.
Even with all the change that has occurred in Tibet over the past 50 years, there are still a lot of monks living in monasteries. Tibetan monks live in one of the more than 2000 monasteries found across the Tibetan regions of the TAR, Qinghai, western Sichuan, southwest Gansu and northwest Yunnan. Monks often begin living at a monastery as young as age 6 and spend the rest of their lives there. This picture is at Sera monastery in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa during a monk debate (monk debates take place at many monasteries across Tibet, but most foreigners are only familiar with the debates at Sera). Monks are easily identifiable in Tibet by the maroon colored robes that they wear.
This last picture is of a Kham man on a pilgrimage to the Derge (Dege) Barkhang Printing Press which makes most of the hand made Tibetan scriptures found in monasteries across Tibet. He is holding a huge prayer wheel in one hand and a set of prayer beads in the other. It is very common to see men (and women) holding both of these while walking around a holy place. This man is wearing a black sash woven in his long hair with his chuba wrapped around his waist (the picture was taken in the summer).
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