Shigatse Culture

Shigatse is one of the most attractive tourist attractions in Tibet for its ancient culture, magnificent monastery architecture, splendid natural landscape and superior geographical location. Cultures in Shigatse are mainly historical culture, Tibetan culture and religious culture.

History of Shigatse

Shigatse has a history of more than 900 years. According to legend, in the 8th century, a famous Indian monk named Padmasambhava came to this place and saw the shape of mountains and rivers. He stopped to practice and preach, and predicted that this place would become second only to Lhasa in Tibet. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Pazhu dynasty(帕竹王朝) built the city here, and built Rikazezong(日喀则宗) on the hill to the north side of Shigatse old town, and gradually built some houses around the government of Rikazezong, starting the initial construction of Shigatse city. On June 26, 2014, the state council approved the abolition of Shigatse prefecture and the establishment of prefecture-level Shigatse city.

More History of Shigatse

Religion Culture

Shigatse is the place where Panchen Lama lived in. The Panchen Lama, also known as the Panchen Erdeni, is another leader of the gelug sect whose status in Tibetan Buddhism is equal to that of the Dalai Lama. Tashilhunpo Monastery, a monastery of Panchen, is one of the four major monasteries of Shamanism. It has both religious and political functions, and is the administrative core of Shigatse and even Tsang area. Tashilhunpo Monastery is also a must-see for many tourists when they come to Shigatse. The Shalu Monastery in the southeast of the city is the origin of the Shalu Sect(夏鲁派) of Tibetan Buddhism. It was built in the 11th century and preserves many exquisite murals.

Monasteries are the main manifestation of Tibetan Buddhist culture, there are many monasteries in Shigatse, here below are part of them. 

Counties and Districts Monasteries
Samzhubze District(桑珠孜区) Tashilhunpo MonasteryBaqin Hao MonasteryNgor MonasteryEngong MonasteryPasuo MonasteryShalu Monastery 
Tingri County(定日县) Rongbuk MonasteryGedan Zhuopeilin MonasteryLabuqi MonasteryXegar Qude Monastery
Gyangze County(江孜县) Pelkor Chode MonasteryZangzha Monastery
Xaitongmoin County(谢通门县) Rijia MonasteryZhaxijipei MonasteryChazang MonasteryWujianguru MonasteryTudanlangjia MonasterySeguochamu MonasteryChagazhuode Monastery
Gyirong County(吉隆县) Paba MonasteryQiangdui Monastery
Ngamring County(昂仁县) Lvlong MonasteryZhasang MonasteryWeishalin Monastery, Tonglin MonasterySamzhu Gandan MonasteryBangyu MonasteryRiwuqi Monastery
Namling County(南木林县) Zidong Qude Monastery, Sendu MonasteryDana MonasteryBajin MonasteryGandan Quguolin MonasteryGedeng Qukuolin TempleSewu MonasteryYungdrung Ling Monastery
Dinggye County(定结县) Langpu MonasteryQunguo MonasteryZhaxi Qunpei MonasteryGongbaqiang Monastery
Saga County(萨嘎县) Dajiling MonasteryKuyu MonasteryBuzha MonasteryTuqing MonasteryNugong Monastery,  Saijuba Monastery
Rinbung County(仁布县) Qiangqin TempleShalu Monastery
Zhongba County(仲巴县) Seqing MonasterySangdan Qiangjiu MonasteryZhachang Gongba MonasteryDare Monastery
Gamba County(岗巴县) Naijiaqiemu Cave TempleQudiannima Temple
Sagya County(萨迦县) Gangqin MonasterySakya MonasteryNatang Monastery
Nyalam County(聂拉木县) Panjielin Temple
Lhaze County(拉孜县) Zeng MonasteryQulong Qiangzi MonasteryPingcuolin MonasteryJuenang MonasteryQude MonasteryPhuntsoling Monastery
Bainang County(白朗县) Changmeijian MonasterySere Zhude MonasteryDangqin MonasteryCangzhuolin Monastery
Kangmar County(康马县) Nanni Qudesi Monastery
Yadong County(亚东县) Donggasi MonasteryGeju MonasteryZhensang Monastery

Ethnic Groups in Shigatse

Shigatse covers an area of nearly 182,000 square kilometers with a population of about 845,300 in 2017. There are more than 10 ethnic groups in Shigatse, including Tibetan, Han, Hui, Mongol, Tu, Man, Miao, Zhuang and the like, of which Tibetan is the main ethnic group, accounting for more than 90% of the total population.

Traditional Ethnic Village in Shigatse

Traditional Chinese villages generally refer to villages that are formed earlier, have rich cultural and natural resources, have certain historical, cultural, economic, and social values ​​and should be protected. According to the published list of traditional Chinese villages, Shigatse currently has several villages on the list. As follows:

  • Renqingding Village in Ngamring County, Shigatse日喀则市昂仁县仁青顶村
  • Shenmuqiong Village of Qiuwo Town in Ngamring County, Shigatse日喀则昂仁县市秋窝乡甚木琼村
  • Gangga Village of Tobgyai Township in Namling County, Shigatse日喀则市南木林县土布加乡岗嘎村
  • Gangga Village of Gangga Town in Tingri County, Shigatse日喀则市定日县岗嘎镇岗嘎村
  • Jianbai Village of Tongmoin Township in Xaitongmoin County, Shigatse日喀则市谢通门县通门乡坚白村
  • Rucun Village of Kungtang Township in Gyirong County, Shigatse日喀则地区吉隆县贡当乡汝村
  • Bangxing Village of Gyirong Town in Gyirong County, Shigatse日喀则地区吉隆县吉隆镇帮兴村

Folk Culture


Ethnic handicraft industry in Shigatse 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. When it comes to handicraft industry of Tsang, people will naturally think of the magnificent and splendid golden roof of temple complex, as well as the practical gold, silver, copper and iron implements in the life of the common people, fancy boots, Tibet wool, ethnic costumes, Tibetan knives, jade ware, wooden bowl and bamboo ware, etc. 

Folk Dance

Tibet is the world of song, the sea of dance, Shigatse people are also capable of singing and dancing. Its folk dance style is unique, graceful and generous. These folk dances inlclude Sgor-gzhas song and dance(果谐), Simazhuo drum dance(斯马卓鼓舞), snail dance(螺舞) of Gyirong, Xieqing dance(谐青) of Kangmar, Jiaxie dance(甲谐) of Tingri, Qiangmu dance(羌姆), etc. Every year in August of Tibetan calendar, Tiaoshen dance festival is held, and it has a history of 200 to 300 years. At first, the sacred dance was only held in Tashilhunpo Monastery as a secret ceremony, and it was strictly forbidden for laypeople to watch. With its increasing scale, and the need to spread the teachings, the seventh Panchen decided to hold Tiaoshen dance festival(跳神舞节) every year in the August of Tibetan calendar, for pilgrims from all directions.

Ethnic Festivals

Various Tibetan festivals are celebrated in different ways in Shigatse. It is suggested to visit Shigatse during the festivals and enjoy the lively scenes with the local Tibetan people if time is sufficient. Festival is the best way to experience the diverse culture and tradition of the local and their ethnic affinity. There are festivals in Shigatse including Tibetan New Year, Lingka Festival, Tashilhunpo Festival and Gyantse Damar Festival, etc.

Festival Tours

Intangible Cultural Heritages and Its Inheritors in Shigatse

With a large number of Tibetan people, Shigatse has some intangible cultural heritages with strong Tibetan characteristics, including Qiangmu/Tiaoshen Dance, Sherpa song and dance, Wangguo festival, etc. Every intangible cultural heritage has its inheritors, who play a vital role in the promotion and inheritance of culture.

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