Shopping in Tibet
Tibet is a beautiful country situated north of India. This country houses the world’s highest Himalayan Peak covered with snow. Though the country is cold the Tibetan people are warm and full of colorful traditions. Most of the cuisine there is traditional Yak produce like milk, cheese, dried meat, etc. Some of the clothing is also made from the hair, fur or skin of the Yak. This is a great place to go for a holiday to escape the hot summer.
During your visit make sure to go shopping for the traditional Tibetan products. These are also available in the Supermarket. However, the best shopping places are Lhasa Open Market and the popular Barkhor shopping streets in Lhasa. We have pulled up the top 10 things to buy in Tibet to make it easy for you.
Top 10 Things to Buy in Tibet
Next is the Tromsikhang Market famous for its dried fruits and nuts which are imported from Xinjiang. Its a place from where you can buy items like tsampa, churpi (dried yak cheese) and yak butter. Khampa styled cowboy hats and artificial jewellery worn by tibetan college – goers too are on sale here.
1. Tibetan Crafts
These traditional crafts are made from a variety of things including precious metals, natural materials and so on. Silver and copper are precious metals and natural materials are bamboo, wood and even bones!
2. Tibetan Medicine
Many regions in the world have their traditional medicine. Like Ayurveda is from India and Homeopathy is from Germany, Sowa Rigpa is for Tibet. It means Tibetan Medicine in the local Tibetan Language. This natural Tibetan medicine is mostly from herbs including Saffron, Snow Lotus, and Aweto. Traditional medicine is also practiced globally by Tibetans living overseas.
Buddhism has its roots in Tibet. There are traditional Scroll paintings that have significance to Buddhism. There are various ways of making these colorful traditional artifacts. Some are hand painted and others are embroidery, pearl inlayed, brocade, color printing, and silk tapestry. Designs include Buddha’s portraits, Tibetan Customs colorful representations, and history of Tibet too.
4. Tibetan Carpets
The traditionally crafted Tibetan carpets are hand woven. They include vibrant colors and this textile is also used for making shoes, caps, etc. The fabric is extremely warm. You need to have a basic idea of how to select carpets and rugs. This includes the weave knots and types of fur used and even the location of the factory. You have to shop around quite a bit for the best choice.
5. Tibetan Textiles
As mentioned previously, the textile that is most widely used in Tibet is a woolen fabric that is called Pulu. This is due to the cold in the Himalayan region. The local Tibetan people use this fabric for making shoes, caps and other woolen clothing to apart from carpets. The warm textile not only keeps out cold but also is beautiful to look at and equally durable too.
6. Tibetan Jewellery
There are various types of Tibetan ornaments and jewellery. Not all jewellery is made from precious stones and precious metals. While some are made from copper, turquoise, gold and silver, others are made from even bamboo and wood! There are carvings of animals and writings in Sanskrit too on these aesthetic items. They are not only for decorative purposes but also said to keep evil away and bring blessings. So some Tibetan ornaments are also made from pearls, dead animals or yaks’ bones and even coral.
7. Tibetan Mask
Tibet is full of traditional customs. It is mostly used during Tibetan Opera and traditional folk dances as well as religious customs. The Tibetan Mask is traditionally called ‘Ba’ in the local language. These masks are unique to each other in terms of shape, style and beauty too. The Tibetan Masks are broadly classified into three types. One is the Tibetan Folk Dance Mask used in folk dances. The others are Tibetan Opera Masks for Operas and Religious Masks for religious customs and gatherings.
8. Tibetan Incense
The essence of Tibet is another aromatic tourist souvenir. These breath taking perfumes are generally for religious purposes. They are also used to keep clothing smelling fresh and pleasant. Various types of incense are also available to keep insects at bay. The Tibetan incense is stored in wardrobes to keep the aroma. Local people use them while worshipping Buddha. It is also used to keep evil away and during religious activities and religious gatherings.
9. Tibetan Knives
People all over the world use Kitchen Knives. However in Tibet these are used especially by women to keep safe. There are various sizes, shapes and thickness of these Tibetan Knives. They can be kept as ancient artifacts as showpieces. However, tourists are not allowed to take these knives out of the country. Moreover they can be a security threat during Air, land and rail travel.
10. Tibetan Commodities
There are various commodities that are available for shopping while holidaying in Tibet. These Tibetan commodities are so rare. They include special foods and delicacies like Buttered Tea. The butter is made from Yak’s Milk. Others include Saffron Crocus, and Dried Yak Meat strips. These can also be used as food wraps.
Some Tips While Shopping in Tibet
These items are expensive but are worth buying as they are not found at any other place on earth apart from Barkhor Street in Lhasa. Start off early so you can get home before 6.00 pm in the evening as Barkhor by lanes get very busy. Those who are not familiar may get lost in the huge crowds. Remember to go in a clockwise direction only while shopping in this area. This tip is for Tibetan Medicine buyers. Tourists in Tibet also call over the ‘natural medicine doctors’ for a paid visit to avail traditional treatments. While copper is referred to as ‘Silver’ by Tibetan locals. While going jewellery shopping select certified jewelers or departmental stores. While purchasing expensive antiques, gold or diamond jewellery, always check authenticity especially for items more than 10,000 RMB.
You can save time while shopping for the right things by reading these tips while going shopping in Tibet. Hope you enjoy your shopping in Tibet to take home some of Tibet’s best local artifacts & crafts.