Let the Bright Pearl of Tibetan Culture Be More Brilliant

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 11:10
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  Tens of thousands of Buddhists and domestic and foreign tourists assemble to visit and pay their respects to a huge picture of the Buddha at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa during a traditional ceremony on the first day of the Shoton Festival in 2010. The central government has been strengthening protection and support for the traditional folk culture of Tibet and the living standards of the farmers and herdsmen have been rising in recent years. This has given traditional folk culture fresh vitality in the modern age and become important in allowing different parts of Tibet to display their regional characteristics, attracting domestic and foreign tourists and increasing the income of farmers and herdsmen. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Gesang Dawa  

 Since the beginning of the new century, efforts have been underway in Tibet to promote cultural development and protect Tibetan culture. This has created a favorable situation in which traditional and modern cultures are blended, equal attention is being paid to development and protection, both public cultural programs and the commercial culture industry are developing and cultural development is accompanied by economic returns thus blazing a road of cultural development with both Chinese characteristics and Tibetan features.

 Basic public cultural services have been enhanced to improve the lives of the people and good progress has been made in cultural development. The central government has always shown special concern for cultural development in Tibet. We have incorporated cultural development in the master plan for the economic and social development of Tibet, carrying out a number of major cultural facility projects, and constantly improving infrastructure conditions. The “Tibet-Xinjiang Project, ”which is designed to increase radio and TV coverage in remote border provinces such as Tibet and Xinjiang, and the project to bring radio and TV coverage to all villages are supported by direct investment from the central government. These projects have extended radio and TV coverage to all townships and administrative villages in Tibet, with radio coverage in 2009 reaching 89.20% of the population and TV coverage 90.36%. We have developed a number of urban cultural landmarks, including the Art Research Center for Tibetan Opera in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Palace of Tibetan Culture and Arts in Lhasa, and the Shannan Theater, and built 48 county-level cultural activity centers, 78 township-level cultural offices, over 300 cultural rooms in administrative villages and 680 small rural libraries, putting in place the basics of a network of cultural facilities incorporating the five levels of the region, prefecture, county, township and village. We have promoted sustained and rapid development of the press and publishing industry, publishing 290 million copies of 15,300 kinds of books in the Tibetan and Chinese languages. There are now 18 newspapers and 34 magazines being published in Tibet and we built, renovated or expanded 35 county-level Xinhua bookstores, thereby helping to enrich the cultural and intellectual life of the people.

 We have made great efforts to ensure the thriving development of culture, mainly concentrating on the characteristics of Tibetan culture. We organized major creative activities revolving around praise for the development, changes and improved lives of the people of new Tibet, taking advantage of major festivals and celebrations such as the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China, the Beijing Olympic Games, the 50th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the Tibetan Serf Emancipation Day and the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway. We constantly worked for the thriving development of literature and art, and introduced a large number of high-caliber works with Tibetan characteristics that also reflect the spirit of the times. Excellent works in this group have won more than 40 national awards. These include the non-fiction book, The Last Camel Caravan in Tibet, the Peking-Tibetan opera Princess Wencheng, the new Tibetan opera Spring for Dokshung, the song and dance performances of Mount Qomolangma, Heavenly Tibet and Odes to Harmony, and the stage plays Bkra shis sgang and Spirit of Dzong. In addition, the Snowfield School of Painting is renowned in domestic art circles. Members of the general public have the chance to participate in many artistic and cultural activities, including annual amateur singing competitions and performances by groups of amateurs from the very young to the elderly. Participation in these activities continues to increase and they have already become an important platform for mass cultural activities. A number of excellent works created by local people, such as Joyful Strings, Singing a Song of Spring and Zhuo Dance of Qonggyai have been performed on regional and even national stages.

 We have made efforts to expand access to cultural products to ensure people’s well-being and improve their lives. We organized major cultural projects for the local people such as a project to expand access to cultural information resources, a mobile stage project, a project to provide books for rural residents, a project to put on stage plays for rural residents and a project to show films in farming and herding regions. 

 We set up 41 county-level branch centers as part of the project to expand access to cultural information resources and 62 Class III village satellite stations. In farming and herding regions, 79.01% of the people have access to digital movie facilities thanks to 478 rural film projection teams that show 1.6 films a month on average for each administrative village. We provided rural residents with more than 100,000 books a year and more than 7 million newspapers in the Tibetan language for free, effectively easing the local shortage of books and newspapers. Since 2001, various levels of professional arts troupes and amateur performance groups have given nearly 6,000 performances in rural areas to a combined audience of nearly 10 million. There are now 13 mobile stage trucks, 19 county-level amateur performance groups and more than 500 local amateur arts groups and Tibetan opera troupes putting on performances in the farming and herding regions. These performances have been proved very popular among farmers and herders.

 We have greatly strengthened cultural protection, focusing on the development of traditional culture. The central government attaches great importance to the protection and development of traditional Tibetan culture. Since the Fourth Forum on Work in Tibet was held, the central government has spent 380 million yuan and used large amounts of gold and silver for the renovation of the three key historical relics of Potala Palace, Norbu Lingka and Sagya Monastery and spent 570 million yuan for the renovation of 22 key relics. The Tibet Autonomous Region has promulgated some ten laws and regulations on protection of historical relics to set up a legislative framework for the protection of historical relics. 

 Relics under protection at all levels currently total 329 in the region, including 35 key relics under national protection. Potala Palace has entered the world cultural heritage list. Tibet launched a comprehensive project to protect intangible cultural heritage in 2006. As a result, the central government has recognized 60 examples of intangible cultural heritage and 53 representative inheritors of intangible cultural heritage, and Tibetan opera and the epic of King Gesar are now listed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The central government has now listed 22 ancient books of Tibet in the national directory of rare ancient works, and efforts to protect and study palm-leaf manuscripts have had a great impact at home and abroad. In addition, we worked to carry forward, develop and use the gems of traditional Tibetan culture such as Tibetan folk medicine and Tibetan astronomical calendar. The programs staged by the Tibet Autonomous Region in the National Performance of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ethnic Minority Groups held in Beijing in late March 2010 were highly evaluated and widely praised by the Ministry of Culture and Beijing audiences. Traditional local festivals and celebrations have been revived or updated, including the Shoton Festival in Lhasa, the Mount Qomolangma Cultural Festival in Shigatse, the Yalong Arts Festival in Shannan, the Grand Valley Tourism and Culture Festival in Nyingchi, the Kham Arts Festival in Qamdo, the Qiaqing Horse Race in Nagqu and the Zhang Zhung Culture and Arts Festival in Ngari, injecting the traditional folk culture of Tibet with fresh vigor and vitality in this new era.

 We have made great efforts to foster development of the culture industry, focusing on creating brand names that reflect characteristics of the locality. The culture industry in the Tibet Autonomous Region has gone through a period of trial and error, experimentation and growth and is making a new start on all fronts. There are now nearly 3,000 profit-making cultural institutions in more than 20 categories in the region, and the types of business, programs they offer and amount of tax they pay are increasing year by year. We built 8 regional demonstration bases for the culture industry, one of which was named a national demonstration base. A number of leading cultural enterprises such as the Niangre Folk Customs Park in Lhasa and the Winds of Tanggula Performing Arts Center have rapidly emerged. Commercial performances with strong local flavor such as the full-length original primitive song and dance performance Happiness on the Way and the Tibetan song and dance performances of “The Himalayas,” “Colorful Tibet” and “Longing for Yarlung Zangbo,” have produced both social benefit and economic returns. The development of the local culture industry has helped bring to prosperity to Tibetan farmers and herders. The traditional piece, “Toshe Dance of Lhazê,” performed by Shigatse farmers appeared in the CCTV Spring Festival Evening Gala, thus succeeding as a commercial performance. At the 4th Beijing Cultural and Creative Industry Expo, the Tibet Autonomous Region signed 5 agreements on industrial cooperation projects with total funding of 745 million yuan, a historic breakthrough.

 We have made great efforts to vigorously carry out a campaign of cultural exchange, focusing on establishing a good image for Tibetan culture. The Tibet Autonomous Region is vigorously implementing a “go global” cultural strategy and has sent more than 200 culture and performing arts troupes and groups to more than 50 countries and regions to give cultural exchange performances and put on exhibitions in over 110 overseas cities for a combined audience of more than 5 million. In coordination with the State Council Information Office, we held a “China Tibetan Culture Week” 7 times in countries and regions such as Italy, Canada and Russia so that people in other countries could gain a better understanding of Tibet and Tibetan culture. We staged more Tibetan performances in cultural exchanges with interior regions, organized performances and broadcasts of works in Beijing such as The Charms of Tibet, The Propitious Olympics and Heavenly Tibet, held a culture and arts exhibition called, Getting into Tibet, in Shenzhen, and held cultural events such as art and photographic exhibitions in cooperation with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions as well as with inland provinces.

 Since the introduction of democratic reform in Tibet more than 50 years ago, the new society, new systems and new era have been bringing new ideas, new culture and new ethical standards to Tibet. These new ideas have thoroughly destroyed the ideological shackles of feudal serfdom, brought unprecedented spiritual liberation to the local people, greatly changed people’s ideological concepts, mental outlook and ways of living and working, strengthened the people’s ideological and moral standards, improved their scientific and general knowledge, raised the overall level of civility in society and profoundly affected the course of Tibet’s historical development. At present, with their continuously enhancing level of material and cultural life, the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have become filled with an enterprising spirit, an unprecedented eagerness to develop a new socialist Tibet, and strengthened national self-esteem, pride and cohesiveness.

 Developing the system of core socialist values is the main thrust of cultural work in Tibet during the Twelfth Five-Year Plan period. Enriching the ideological and cultural life of people of all ethnic groups is the starting point and final goal, creating a “cultural Tibet” is the strategic task and protecting the cultural security of Tibet is the major responsibility. Adhering to a path of cultural development with Chinese characteristics and Tibetan features, we are vigorously implementing the strategy of “rejuvenating, strengthening and promoting prosperity of the Tibet Autonomous Region through cultural development” and working for new breakthroughs in bringing about the thriving development and prosperity of Tibetan culture.

 An important part of improving the well-being of the people of all ethnic groups is improving their ideological and cultural lives, and developing the system of public cultural services is the main way to ensure their basic cultural rights and interests. We are vigorously carrying out non-profit cultural programs and stepping up development of public cultural facilities mainly designed for the use of the general public to develop a system of public cultural services with access for the whole society. We are vigorously promoting the development of culture industry with local characteristics by relying on a combination of the unique cultural resources of Tibet and national assistance and working to make the culture industry a new economic growth area, a new unique leading industry and a key strategic industry for our region. We are fully aware of the unique value of the unique culture of ethnic groups in this age of globalization and working to carry forward, protect and develop the fine traditional culture of Tibet, from the lofty perspective of protecting the cultural wealth of humanity, building a common spiritual home for the Chinese nation and promoting the thriving development of the unique culture of Tibet and with a scientific attitude and dialectical approach, in order to always preserve the unique charm of Tibetan culture and ensure its strong vitality.

(From Qiushi, Chinese edition, No.14, 2010)

Note: Author: Member of the Standing Committee and Head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region

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