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The value of people's life differs in old Tibet
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09:09, March 13, 2009

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"As people are divided into different classes and ranks, the value of a life also differs." reveals in the white paper titled "Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet" published by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet on March 2,2009. The bodies of people of the highest rank of the upper class, such as a prince or Living Buddha, were literally worth their weight in gold. The lives of people of the lowest rank of the lower class, such as women, butchers, hunters and craftsmen, were only worth a straw rope.

The white paper says that the "13-Article Code" and "16-Article Code," which were enforced for several hundred years in old Tibet, divided people into three classes and nine ranks, enshrining inequality between the different ranks in law. The Code stipulated that people were divided into three classes according to their family background and social positions, each class was further divided into three ranks.

The white paper reveals that the "Report on the Prohibition against Taking in Descendents of Blacksmiths" kept in the Archives of the Tibet Autonomous Region showed that in 1953, when the 14th Dalai Lama found out that one of his servants was a blacksmith's descendent, he immediately expelled the servant, and announced that descendents of gold, silver and iron smiths, and butchers belonged to the lowest rank of the lower class, and were forbidden to serve in the government or marry people from other ranks or classes.

In the white paper, it also says that the tibetologist Tom Grunfeld of the State University of New York, USA, noted in his book The Making of Modern Tibet that equality among mankind, though incorporated in the doctrines of Buddhism, unfortunately failed to prevent the Tibetan rulers from setting up their own rigid hierarchical system.

By People's Daily Online

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