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Tibetan herdsmen adjust to new way of life

08-08-2013 21:47 BJT Special Report: Inside Tibet |

Average Tibetans live in farms and cities, they have their own stories of struggles and happiness. Tibet is home to some of China’s biggest sheep and cattle farms.

For thousands of years, these fertile farmlands have been home to animals and the herders. But these days, the lives of millions of herders are undergoing changes they’ve never seen before.

Tibetans traditionally followed a tranquil and nomadic lifestyle.

The natural environment can be harsh… Temperatures can be low, and the air is thin. But herdsmen raise their cattle and sheep, despite what nature throws at them.

For Chimey Lhatson, it’s the only way of life she knows.

Chimey Lhatson, Tibetan herder, said, "Mother Nature has given us clear skies, abundant water, green grass, and many yaks and sheep. We’ve got everything for our nomadic lifestyle, passed down by our ancestors."

But one thing they don’t have is a warm home.

This is a typical herdsmen’s tent in Tibet. Small and dark, it’s home to three generations.

It’s portable, allowing the family to take it down and put it up whenever they move to greener pastures. Today, these tents are not disappearing, but they’re only seen in summer.

In winter, almost everyone like Chimey lives in a proper house. The livestock live on the ground floor, people live upstairs. The houses are specially designed for herdsmen.

The electricity is powered by one of the Plateau’s most abundant natural resources, the sun, instead of the oil lamps and candles they used to rely on.

In the beginning we didn’t dare use the solar energy, because we believe the sun is the God and it’s disrespectful to use that resource. But now we found it’s quite convenient, so why not?

It’s one thing gradually reshaping their way of life. And as they settle down in permanent homes, they keep fewer livestock, a necessary trade-off to protect the grassland.

Chimey’s father has moved to a city looking for a job.

He said, "In the city you earn far more money than raising livestock here, though I do miss him a lot, because we used to see him every day."

China’s rapid urbanization is reaching far and wide, and is pulling this most remote region with it. For better or worse, Chimey Lahtson knows her life may never be the same again.

Editor:James |Source:

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