Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/403

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

never be used in speaking to a Tibetan, for fear of the consequences. Their standard of morality is not high.

Whenever a Tibetan makes a gift to another, it is customary to offer it with a scarf of blessing, which is an indispensable accompaniment. Their houses differ in various districts. Some are entirely built of stone, others of wood, usually two stories high. The roofs are flat, and are used for storing grain or for promenades. The windows are small open spaces, with shutters for use at night, while the ground floor is frequently a stable. The large proportion of the population live in black tents made of yaks' hair, and their chief wealth consists in their flocks and herds with their produce.

Tibet has very extensive literature, not only historical and religious, but also medical and philosophical, etc. Printing from wooden blocks has been carried on for centuries. Education is for the most part confined to the Lamas.

Tibet has been correctly styled the "Land of the Lamas." It is a country full of monasteries, and of red-robed, bare-headed, and bare-armed priests of Buddha. In and around Lhasa alone there are some forty thousand Lamas. The three principal monasteries near the capital are Sera, Galdan, and Drepung, each of which has from three to five thousand inmates. Again, in Amdo, there are several very large monasteries of great repute, the most famous of which are Kumbum near Sining, and Lhabrang south of the Yellow River. These monasteries vary in size; in some there are only a few Lamas, while sometimes the occupants may be limited to two or three, or even one solitary ascetic.

The priesthood is intensely venerated by the people, every family being proud to contribute its quota to swell the number. A popular saying is, "Without the Lama in front there is no approach to God." Whether at the building of a house or the starting on a journey, at a marriage or a funeral, in times of sickness or of harvest or famine, the Lama's aid is considered indispensable.

The particular form of Buddhism prevalent is one