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Long-standing and unique Tibetan clothing and ornaments

Tibetan women in Lithang, Kham, eastern Tibet. Photo: Outlook Tibet

Long-standing and unique Tibetan clothing and ornaments are featured by diversified styles and patterns as well as bright color. It is traditional costume formed from ancient times under the influence of climate in the area, people's production activities and the religious culture.

Ordinary dress with distinctive ethnic features is the Tibetan-style robe, which is characterized by long sleeves, loose waist and large lapel. Moreover, faconne decoration is important, and top priority is given to the conformity of dressing to personal status, reflecting by the existence of precious fur and silt piped sleeves, lapels and fundus. When wearing a Tibetan-style robe, underlinen is indispensable, with male-style ones mainly being fitted with high collars, and female ones with turn-down collars, both kinds made of silk in different colors. Female underlinen is provided with long sleeves, which are curled up in most times and laid down when dancing, so that they will wave in the wind with the dancer, presenting a beautiful vision.
Tibetan clothing and ornaments, though bright in color, are harmoniously presented. It is in the clothing and ornaments that the gorgeous features of the Tibetans are perfectly embodied.

As a group live in the Roof of the world, Tibetan clothing conveys not only the habits, but also the history, beliefs, and character of the local people.

Because of the vast land and the different believes, Tibetan clothing is vary from one district to another. Traditionally, Tibetan clothing consists of a robe and shirt. The Tibetan robe worn by men is broad and is normally fastened under the right arm, while the women's are slightly narrower with or without sleeves. The robes often fastened with two cloth belts. The shirts are also fastened on the right. Men typically wear white shirts with high collars, while women wear various colors with turndown collars.

In Lhasa and Shannan

The weather in Lhasa and Shannan Prefecture is warmer and damper still. Here the men mainly wear double-layered robes, and women dress in close-fitting robes and long-sleeved shirts, with brightly decorated aprons at the waist.

It is popular for Tibetan women to wear aprons. There are two kinds of aprons wide stripes ones and narrow stripes ones. The wide stripes one is with contrast, bright colors, as beautiful as rainbows. The narrow stripes one is with harmonic colors, elegant and graceful

In Northern Tibet - Mountain Pastures

The weather in northern Tibet, where herdsmen lead a nomadic life in natural mountain pastures, is bitterly cold. As there is a huge disparity between day and night time temperatures, local herdsmen wear a furred robe all year round, which doubles as a quilt at night. In daytime, people wear their left sleeve only, or sometimes wear neither, and tying the two sleeves at the waist. Today, the fashion of wearing only the left sleeve, while exposing the right shoulder, is immediately recognizable as Tibetan dress style.

The Tibetan furred robe is very bulky and said to have enough room to accommodate a five or six-year old child in winter. It has no pockets, but being fastened at the waist there is plenty of room around the ribcage to carry daily necessities.

Clothes worn by herdsmen in pasture areas are distinctive for their decorative welts. They are also hemmed in black velveteen, corduroy, or woolen cloth at the front and lower edges, and cuffs, and the women wear aprons decorated with colorful cloth stripes. The vista of herdsmen, roaming about under the blue sky, white clouds, green grass, snowy mountains, among their sheep and cattle, is a sight more beautiful than any landscape painting.

In Southern Tibet - Farmers

Tibetan farmers, who live in the warm and damp climate of southern Tibet, make their clothes from tweed, a kind of hand-woven woolen cloth. Both men and women wear their clothes buttoned to the right. Men's clothes are hemmed in colorful cloth or with silk at the collar, cuffs, front, and lower edges. Other than during the cold winter, women's outerwear is sleeveless. The length of a Tibetan robe generally exceeds the wearer's height, and when worn, the waist is lifted and fastened with a belt.

In Local Festivals

Festivals are the best opportunities to observe and enjoy Tibetan clothes. Nagqu Town in northern Tibet holds a horse race every year, and Tibetans gather at this fair dressed in their best. Riders usually wear robes of azure, dark blue or pale green, with red knickerbockers, or blue or black sports trousers, and boots. Male spectators wear long furred robes in black, blue, or yellow, hung with finely decorated Tibetan knives, flints, snuff bottles, and silver coins at the waist. Women wear hats hemmed in colors that match the hemming on all their other garments, right down to the boots. They wear gold, silver, and copper adornments on their long braids, large earrings and necklaces, and strings of metal coins decorating their waists that jingle musically in the breeze.

Costumes of Monks

The costumes of Tibetan monks are also worth mentioning. Their costumes are usually made of crimson pulu. In daily life, a monk wears a shawl with the front and the back decorated with yellow cloth, and a long skirt, and drapes another long shawl that is approximately 2.5 times the length of his height. When he attends a religious meeting he will wear a cloak and a special yellow cap. Sticking up high on the head, this neatly sewed cap resembles the shape of a rooster's comb. In fact, costumes of monks differ with different sects. For example, some other monks wear long, steeple-crowned hat with its brim folded and its front open.


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