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Salon du Tapis d'Orient

The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting.

Colours of Life: A Perspective from Tibet (Part 3)

by Jaina Mishra


Although not in the realm of textiles – equally interesting are the metal and hide cigarette lighters that use flintstone and cotton wisps to create fire. Here is one I acquired for a friend, who I hope will be so frustrated at his lighting up effort, that he will give up smoking altogether! The pouch is filled with stones and bits of cotton.


Tibetan shoes are decorated and a bit like soft snowboots. These are fast being replaced by sneakers and sandals but I did see enough of them on people walking around, to feel reassured thatthey are not extinct yet. Pictures of new boots from the net.


The final and the most memorable colours came from the monks. The various shades of maroon are all rich and do not convey frugality at all, to me. But maroon was deliberately chosen for the dress code, because that was the cheapest dye in those parts.

Monks debating at Sera Monastery filling the courtyard with colour and sound and philosophy!  


Nuns at Barkhor – note their sun hats.


There’s much more to the presence of textiles in Tibetan life, that I will just draw attention to through the pictures below – but will not elaborate upon ( mainly because I don’t know much about the textile aspect of these items).

Prayer flags:


Door/Window frill panels:

And brocade panels in monasteries:



Traditional Tibetan textiles seem all the more interesting to me, since I read upon my return, that "During the cultural revolution (1966-68) the Chinese government banned the wearing of traditional costume by ethnic minorities such as Tibetans." Makes me want to go right back and empty my bank account into all that is out there, waiting to be preserved!


The irony is that this was a  journey in a land of abundant colour, of happy blues and bursting yellows and full reds – yet, what I saw, was the stark contrast, of the  black and the white in that  world, and in mine.    And it has taught me to accept the philosophy of Tibetan life, captured in the poet’s words ‘jo hai wo hai, aur jo nahi hai wo nahi hai”

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