Does Wearing the Tibetan Headwear Mean Wearing Lifelong Wealth on the Head?

Culture

When traveling to the Tibetan areas, you will often notice that some well-dressed women wear beautiful headwear, ...

When traveling to the Tibetan areas, you will often notice that some well-dressed women wear beautiful headwear, decorated with gold, silver, and large jewels, as ornaments. Some have told me that this is their whole life’s wealth.

The jewels mainly include beeswax, corals, turquoises, Tibetan Dzi beads, etc., which are all big and heavy.

Don’t they feel inconvenient when wearing such things on their head or neck?

The girl Zhuoma from Shiqu County showed me her coral “necklace”, which was really heavy.

According to her, she doesn’t usually wear it unless when she attends festivals, group events, wedding parties or other important events. Wearing this necklace not only shows her respect of others, but it also embodies her wealth and vitality.

She has told me that many of the headwear ornaments these women wear are from their ancestors, and are an embodiment of their ancestors’ wealth, not the wealth that they themselves own during their own lifetime.

In the past, the Tibetans were nomads, and were always moving on the grassland to look for good grass, and live near a source of water. They often moved their houses, and so, they were forced to not purchase immovable properties or things that are not easy to move or bring along. Therefore, they exchanged their properties into jewels and wore them wherever they went.

The Tibetans are born artists of colors. They are particularly fond of flamboyant colors, which can make each other look more appealing. This characteristic can be found on their houses, clothes, or even their jewelry.

Therefore, red corals, yellow beeswax, and green turquoises are their favorites.

The many Tibetan areas are large, and different areas have different customs. This difference is also shown on their clothing and headwear. These photos were all taken in Garze County and Shiqu County, Garze Prefecture, Sichuan Province.

These people are common herders or civilians, and what they wear are their families’ heirlooms. They are not models who pose for the lens.

The photos with people dressed in red are those that were taken in a Guozhuang Dance competition. These people are from a remote town’s troupe. Their costumes were bought, and their headwear ornaments are all their own or were borrowed.

In fact, the Tibetans’ view of the beauty largely differs from that of the Han People. They usually spend lots of time on their hair, and they often make lots of small braids.

It is only when such hair is matched to this headwear that the hair becomes the most beautiful.

The Tibetan headwear is also so profound that even many Tibetans cannot explain it. According to them, different areas have different customs, which have been passed to them from their ancestors.

Today, the Tibetan headwear is not the accumulation or continuity of their wealth any more, but it is an inheritance of tradition, civilization, culture, and happiness.



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