Souvenirs worth buying during your Tibet tour
Tibet is famous for its magnificent natural scenery and the pious religious beliefs of the people. It has a vast territory, spectacular landforms, and abundant resources. Since ancient times, people on this land have created a rich and splendid national culture.
There are not only sacred mountains, holy lakes, and religious monasteries in Tibet, but also some special products worth taking home. Below are the top 10 souvenirs to buy during your Tibet tour, which are easy to buy and carry with Tibetan characteristics, travelers could consider buying some to take home according to the preferences. And most of them can be found at Barkhor Street, which may be the busiest street in Tibet. A wide variety of handicrafts, relic replicas, precious porcelain, and delicate accessories are sold in the shops and stalls along the street.
1. Jewelry and Accessories
Tibetan jewelry is mainly Dzi bead, turquoise, red coral, pearl, agate, gold and silver products. Different Tibetan ornaments have different meanings. Even the same kind of Tibetan ornaments have different meanings with different styles, but basically they all mean blessing.
Dzi bead is one of the seven treasures of Tibetan secrets. It is an extremely rare gemstone and has a long history. It is said to be able to ward off evil spirits, prevent strokes, enhance internal energy, and symbolize beauty, virtue, wealth. Real natural Dzi beads are very expensive and scarce, travelers must identify them carefully if you want to buy one.
Tibetan bracelets and rings are generally made of Tibetan silver, with Sanskrit engraved on them, which can ward off evil spirits and bring blessings.
Yak is regarded as a sacred animal by Tibetans. In ancient times, yak bones were often used in divination and sacrifice, which can generate positive energy to the heart. As a unique decoration, Yak bone is processed into various kinds of ornaments, which are deeply loved by Tibetan people. They believe that yak bones can ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.
2. Tibetan Knife
Tibetan knives are popular among tourists as a traditional handicraft in Tibet. Tibetan knives, also known as Tibetan waist knives, are things that Tibetans carry with and can be used for cutting meat or self-defense. Tibetan knives can also be divided into male and female styles. The male style of knives is sharp and domineering, the female style of knives is smart and compact.
Besides their practical functions, Tibetan knives can also be used as a kind of accessory. It is elegant and exquisite in appearance, the sheath is carved with various meticulous pictures and adorned with shining jewels, they may outshine any item in your collection.
Reminder: Please note that the Tibetan knives are not allowed to bring into either the plane or the train, no matter as checked or carry-on luggage. However, they can be delivered to your home through the Lhasa General Post office, near Barkhor Street.
3. Tibetan Mask
Tibetan masks are usually called Tibetan opras masks, which is a kind of handicraft derived from Tibetan Buddhism. They are mainly used in ceremonies during major festivals in the monastery. Compared with religious masks, Tibetan opera masks have strong secular tendencies and folk colors. The subject matter mainly includes figures, gods, and animals in historical stories and myths. Most masks are handmade, exquisitely detailed, and easy to carry.
With a history of over 1,000 years, Tibetan Thangka is a scroll painting decorated with colorful satin. A thangka is a unique form of painting art in Tibetan culture. The subject matter involves many fields such as the history, politics, culture, and social life of the Tibetan people. Nowadays, Thangkas are mainly painted with figures of the Buddha or the Avalokitesvara, and used for conveying religious doctrines and for decorating monasteries, etc.
Thangka's drawing requirements are strict and the procedures are extremely complicated, so the production cycle is very long and the price is expensive. Travelers could consider buying a Thangka that values a few hundred to thousands RMB as souvenirs. High-quality Thangka with collection value often takes a few years to make, hence, the price will be hundreds of thousands or even millions of RMB.
5. Pulu (Tibetan Woolen Fabrics)
Pulu, also called Tibetan woolen fabrics, are hand-made by Tibetans with wool, cotton, and mixed cotton and linen. Tibetans use them to sew clothes, trousers, robes, hats, and boots. This is the most common and ethnic wear on the Tibetan plateau. They are smooth, soft, rich in color, with Tibetan characteristics patterns, which can be made into clothes, skirts, cushion covers, scarves to your families and friends as a gift.
6. Tibetan Incense
Tibetan incense is handcrafted from dozens of rare Tibetan medicines and herbs, such as saffron, snow lotus, musk, Tibetan Bandar, Rhodiola, clove, borneol, sandalwood, etc., showing its high medicinal value. Tibetan incense can detoxify, sterilize, resist infection and virus. In the process of burning incense, it not only purifies the air but also regulates the body function. In addition, the packaging of Tibetan incense is also very delicate, which can be a good gift for friends and relatives.
7. Tibetan Carpet
Tibetan carpets are traditional handicrafts of Tibet. They can be divided into three types: one is woven with yak velvet and wool threads, and the patterns are bright and soft. The second is simple and plain style woven from sheep thread and wool. The third type is the seat cushion, which is made by putting the roe deer hair and barley stalks into the canvas or cowhide. The texture is strong, and it can be called a home decoration. And it is very convenient to carry, which is also one of the most popular souvenirs for travelers.
8. Tibetan Medicine
Tibetan medicine is a unique medical system formed through long-term practice on the basis of extensive absorption and fusion of Chinese medicine, Indian medicine, and Arabic and Persian medicine. It has a history of thousands of years. Many Tibetan medicines have good effects on cardiovascular diseases, tumors, and other diseases. The most famous is Cordyceps Sinensis and Saffron, which can be bought in general pharmacies or tourist shops. Cordyceps Sinensis has the effect of tonifying the kidney and benefiting the lung, stopping bleeding, and reducing phlegm. Saffron can promote blood circulation and remove blood stasis, cool blood and detoxify, and relieve depression. It has great benefits for the adjustment of the female body, but can be rather dangerous for pregnant women.
9. Religious Souvenirs
When people mention the religion of the Tibetan people, they immediately think of the local ethnic Lamaism and its mysterious and strange atmosphere. The related craft souvenirs, such as the prayer wheel, the stone carvings, the Buddha statues, Tsa-tsa(clay-made figures of the Buddha enshrined by Tibetans to ask for the blessings of the Buddha), etc., give a mysterious and solemn feeling, which can be said to be the symbol of the long religious history of Tibet.
10. Purang Wooden Bowl
For travelers who plan to make the Mt Kailash tour for a pilgrimage or trekking, you should definitely not miss the special wooden bowl made in Purang County (also called Burang County). There are many workshops for making handmade wooden bowls in Purang county. Those wooden bowls can be easily found at the market in Darchen (Mt Kailash Kora trek starting point). For the Tibetan people, daily life is inseparable from wooden bowls. Whether they eat staple food or drink tea or wine, they can use wooden bowls as containers.