Tibetan wooden bowls

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[Photo/China Tibet Online]

"Taking my honey, I feel shy,

But lonely and worried if not.

She were my wooden bowl,

I shall take her in my bosom."

---An old Tibetan folk song

For old Tibetans, a wooden bowl is as precious as his or her lover and one can only use one bowl in a whole lifetime. Though young Tibetans have broken this old convention, the wooden bowl culture will be preserved and past down, according to Chila, a 76-year-old Tibetan from Purang in Tibet's Nagri Prefecture reputed as "Town of Wooden Bowls".

Wooden Bowls-daily necessities of Tibetans "Wooden bowls are daily necessities for us farmers. We use wooden bowls to drink buttered tea all year long. Tea in wooden bowls tastes better than in any other tea cups," Chila told us in our phone interview.

In Purang, each family member has his own wooden bowl. For the elderly, they still follow the tradition and use larger bowls with covers for dinner; but for the young, they prefer smaller and exquisite bowls.

Traditions broken by the young

Tibetans are using wooden bowls to toast [Photo/China Tibet Online]

"We old people have only one wooden bowl but the young people can have two or more. Now, the living standard is improved and young people usually buy new bowls every year to replace the old ones. The 'one wooden bowl for one life' tradition no longer exisits, especially among the young generation," Chila explained.

Besides, according to him, each family member in Purang also has a wooden tea cup with silver cover. When the Tibetan New Year comes, both the elderly and the young in the family use wooden bowls to drink tea to celebrate it.

In rich families, each person has two bowls: one for daily use and another for festive use.

Wooden bowl culture to be inherited and protected

Different kinds of Wooden bowls [Photo/China Tibet Online]

"It is not only a tradition but also a habit for us to use wooden bowls. The wooden bowls are as important to us old people as buttered tea to farmers in Tibet," Chila said when being asked about the inheritance of the wooden bowl culture.

According to him, wooden bowls will always be the Tibetans' lifestyle in future no matter how fast the economy develops and how the Tibetan's life changes.

"For one reason, the central government will preserve this folk art," Chila told us convincingly.

He also said that the central government has made many preferential policies on and invested a lot in maintaining and renovating the old monasteries in Tibet, and protecting the traditional Tibetan culture, such as folk songs and dances. Then, as a kind of handicrafts with a long history, wooden bowls are bound to be protected by the central government.

"For another reason, I have seen TV programs advertising the wooden bowls made in Purang. Now, the Purang bowls have more clients, including both Tibetans and customers from other nationalities. The bowls are in good sale and some customers even give orders in advance. All of this shows that wooden bowls are becoming more and more popular now. So I believe they will be part of our life in future."