Ngari ethnic culture is mainly contributed by the Tibetan ethnic group living there. The art and culture of Ngari area is the important part of ancient Zhangzhung civilization that created many myths about the nature. Zhangzhung culture is famed as the root of Tibetan culture and its vestiges penetrate into every aspects of Tibetan culture.
The Ngari Plateau, formed millions of years ago due to the rising of Kunlun Mountains and the orogenic movement of Himalayas Mountains, is called the “roof of the world”. The early history of Ngari civilization dates back to the periods of Zhangzhung Kingdom, Tupo Kingdom, Guge Kingdom, and so forth.
Ngari is the cradle of the ancient Zhangzhung Culture and the homeland of the Tibetan religion of Bon. Zhangzhung Kingdom (from 2nd to 7th century) was founded in the western part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as early as the 2nd or the 3rd century. During the 7th century, Liyifu, the King of Zhangzhung Kingdom married Semaka, daughter of Trison Detsanm, King of Tupo Kingdom (629 A.D～842/846 A.D), thus starting the alliance between Zhangzhung Kingdom and Tupo Kingdom. However, Prince Semarka’s marriage ended up in divorce. Then Tupo Kingdom waged a war on the Zhangzhung Kingdom and dethroned Liyifu. In 644, Tupo conquered Zhangzhung by force.
More about Ngari History
Ethnic Groups in Ngari
There are 27 ethnic groups living in Ngari, with the Tibetan as the major ethnic population. The other ethnic groups include Han, Hui, Uyghur, Yi, Naxi, Dong, Miao, Li, Bai, Tujia, Bouyei, etc.
In Ngari, the holy mountain and lake are associated with a number of religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Bon, attracting numerous domestic and international religious pilgrims and tourists. Within this range Buddhism has flourished and is considered a center for the religion. Kailash pilgrimage is regarded by many followers including tourists as a way to express the faith in Buddhism. Besides the Kailash trekking Kora, visiting monasteries in Ngari is also a good way to know more about the religion culture in Ngari. Like other places in Tibet, Ngari also has many monastries, with Tholing Monastery as the most popular one. It is the oldest monastery (or gompa) in the Ngari Prefecture of western Tibet. Here is the information about the monasteries in Ngari for your reference.
Ethnic handicraft in Ngari has a long history, and the product has a unique ethnic style and local characteristics, many products enjoys a high reputation both at home and abroad. Handicrafts in Ngari such as prayer flags, Buddha figures, fur hats, bridles, copper teapots, ethnic costumes, Tibetan knives and jade wares are recommended ones to buy. Burang Wooden Bowl is one of the most famous in Ngari for its exquisite craft.
After the peaceful liberation, with the large number of troops and cadres sent to support Tibet, some modern literature such as poems, essays and novels and modern cultural and artistic forms such as dramas, movies, songs and dances and sketches were introduced to Ngari. Such as military poetry works "birthday night" (生日的夜晚) and documentary literature "celestial burial" (天殉) . After the reform and opening up, the cultural market has also been opened up, and entertainment venues such as game rooms, dance halls and so on have appeared one after another. Ngari culture has witnessed a trend of diversified development.
Ngari's traditional arts mainly include music and dance, drama and arts and crafts, especially Tibetan music and dance and arts and crafts. Burang County and Zanda County are the birthplaces of Sgor-gzhas (果谐) song and dance. Besides the Tibetan dances like Guozhuang Dance, Xuanwu Dance is the unique one in Ngari. It is also the folk art in Ngari representing the most striking characteristics of the Zhangzhung culture.
Various Tibetan festivals are celebrated in different ways in Ngari, such as Saga Dawa Festival (萨噶达娃节), Wangguo Festival (望果节) and Men's Day in Korjak Village (科迦村男人节). The Men's Day may be the most special one among the festivals in Ngari. It is suggested to visit Ngari during the festivals and enjoy the lively scenes with the local Tibetan people.
- Sagadawa Festival: The Tibetan April is the time to celebrate Sagadawa Festival in order to commemorate Sakyamuni who is the founder of Buddhism. Pilgrims spare no effort to circumambulate around the holy lakes and mountains like kailash and Lake Manasarovar.
- Wangguo Festival is celebrated in the middle of August of the Tibetan Calendar, people will dress up and bring with butter tea, highland barley wine and a variety of food to the fields for having picnic. At the same time, they will sing and dance, and hold Horse racing, cattle racing, archery, stoning, wrestling and other activities.
- Xiangxiong Cultural Festival is a good time to visit the relics of Guge Kingdom, holy Mount Kailash, sacred Lake Manasarovar, spectacular Zhada Earth Forest, beautiful Panggongcuo Lake in Ngari Region. The Xiangxiong festival usually lasts for the whole August. Xiangxiong, also Shang Shung, is an ancient culture and kingdom of western Tibet that dates back more than 1300 years. The most eye-catching event featured in the Xiangxiong Festival is Tibet’s most renowned horse competition.
- Tibetan New Year: On New Year's Day, people bring their offerings and highland barley wine to their own crops to sacrifice the Harvest Goddess. Everyone in the ground set up a long pole, hanging streamer on the top of the pole, and wheat straw bound on the lower. People build an altar in front of the pole, and then simmering mulberry, singing, dancing, begging the Harvest Goddess a booming harvest. There lots of New Year entertainment. From the beginning of the second day, the men take part in horse racing and archery, the arrow is a wooden cone drilled a lot of holes, when arrows are taken away from the string, people begin dancing and drinking around the campfire.
Ngari Festival Tours
- 5 Days Tibet New Year Festival Tour
- 8 Days Tibet Tashilhunpo Festival Tour
- 14 Days Tibet-Nepal Overland Tour with Saga Dawa Festival and Mount Kailash
Intangible Cultural Heritages and Its Inheritors in Ngari
Rich and diverse ethnic culture is the source of the intangible cultural heritages in Ngari. Ngari has some intangible cultural heritages with strong Tibetan characteristics, including Guoerzi Dance, Gar Dance, Guge Xuanwu Dance and Karma Xuanwu Dance. Every intangible cultural heritage has its inheritors, who play a vital role in the promotion and inheritance of culture.
- Intangible Cultural Heritages in Ngari
- Inheritors of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Ngari
- The First Batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List
- The Second Batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List
- The Third Batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List