Article

A General Introduction to Tibetan Culture and Religion

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Abstract

The Tibetans, as one of largest ethnic minority groups of China, are well known in the world because of their unique natural environment and distinctive culture and religion. What follows is some background information on Tibetans and their geographic distribution in China prior to a discussion of Tibetan culture and religion.

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... This study was carried out between June and August 2014 in the Golog TAP of the Qinghai Province, a strongly Amdo region. Golog Tibetans are themselves categorized as a unique subgroup with a distinctive subdialect, historically documented as a fierce and rebellious nomadic tribe (Gelek 2002). Today, 91% of Golog's 160,000 residents are Tibetan, the second-highest proportion of all TAPs (Golog Statistical Yearbook 2010). ...
... Today, 91% of Golog's 160,000 residents are Tibetan, the second-highest proportion of all TAPs (Golog Statistical Yearbook 2010). It is presently considered an important region where 'traditional' Tibetan culture and lifestyle persists (Gelek 2002). This region was chosen for study mainly because it showcases the way in which the traditional Tibetan lifeworld is incorporating into the modern Chinese society and economy. ...
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Household air pollution (HAP) is considered to be one of the largest environmental health risks in the world, being responsible each year for ~4.3 million deaths globally and 420,000 in China. Tibetan regions of China are known for pristine ambient air but several recent studies have concluded that the indoor air quality in Tibetan homes is compromised. Tibet is changing rapidly and this study sought to holistically understand HAP in relation to these changes. We took 28 measurements of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon (BC) concentrations in a variety of Tibetan dwellings in the Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. A semi-structured interview and ethnographic participant-observation were also administered with residents to better understand household behaviors and awareness of HAP. The highest concentrations of PM2.5 and BC were found in the traditional yak hair tent, but nomads living in plastic tarp tents with improved stoves and stovepipes also had very compromised indoor air quality. All of the nomads in this study said they would prefer to use a fuel other than yak dung. More nomads expressed concern about their local glacier melting due to climate change than HAP, and indoor trash burning was seen at all sites. This study suggests that raising awareness of health and climate impacts due to HAP, in addition to having a better dialogue among the stakeholders and the residents in Tibet, is essential for obtaining better indoor air quality in the region.
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