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China: Khampa Tibetans

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Khampa Tibetans | China | Asia

[Visited: September 2006]

After a long day driving through Sichuan province, we arrived at the entrance of Jiaju, where we had to buy an entrance ticket for this traditional Tibetan village. Since our last hours had been in darkness, we were surprised to find a lady dressed in traditional costume. Moreover, her appearance, face and body, was completely different from the people we had seen so far. We had met our first Khampa woman, sitting silently on a couch watching TV. Pretty soon, we would see more colourfully dressed Khampas, both men and women; the higher up we went, the deeper we would go into Kham territory.

Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Khampa woman watching TV

We saw more Khampa Tibetans the next day in that village, and many more on our way more into Kham province. The Khampas are known to be taller than other Tibetans, they are fierce warriors, good horsemen and independent - apparently, Khampas escorted the Dalai Lama fleeing out of Tibet in the early 1950s. On a crossroads in the countryside, next to an extensive new temple, we came across several Khampas, among which some wild looking men with cowboy hats who quickly drove their horses past us. It gave an impression of the ability of the Khampas on horses, which surely they must have been using for centuries.

Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Khampa horserider in the vicinity of Tagong

In their traditional dresses, the Khampas look beautiful. Especially the women wear unique jewellery, mostly silver with colourful stones. Both in men and women, red seems to be the dominant colour, perfectly contrasting with their thick, black hair. One of the places to go in Kham to see traditional Khampas is of course any Tibetan temple. Here, in the serenity of a religious house, you can see up close the faces of the people, worn out because of the harsh climate and the difficult conditions under which they live, in a windswept and generally cold climate.

Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Khampa woman spinning the prayer wheels of a temple in Kangding
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Traditional Khampa woman with jewellery and umbrella
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Khampa woman with traditional ornamentations
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Old Khampa woman in the cold countryside
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Khampa woman with decorated wall
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Colourful women in traditional Tibetan village
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Tibetan girl in Tagong monastery
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Tibetan with bowler hat on a motorbike in Kham area
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Tibetan walking in the snow with cowboy hat
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Tibetan woman with white hat and cap in Kham countryside
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Traditionally dressed woman in temple in Kangding
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Old Tibetan woman in gas station
Picture of Khampa Tibetans (China): Traditional Khampa woman outside Tagong lamasery

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