New life of Lhoba ethnic group in Tibet

09:20, May 18, 2011      

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Ya Niang (R) and Ma Ya, villagers of Lhoba ethnic group, have lunch at their home in Qionglin Village of Nanyi Lhoba Ethnic Township, in Mainling County of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), May 11, 2011. (Xinhua/Yao Jianfeng)

Located at the foot of snow-peaked mountains near the south border between China and India, the Nanyi Township of Qionglin Village, a tranquil and picturesque place, is inhabited by people of Lhoba ethnic group.

With a total of 2900 people, Lhoba ethnic group is the smallest among China's 56 ethnic groups in term of population.

The family of forty-six-year-old Ma Ya is one of the 30 Lhoba households in the village. They live in a two-storeyed house with many modern devices like television, washing machine, refrigerator, etc.

In 2008, his family opened a household inn when Qionglin Village set up a scenic area. Their family inn soon went popular among tourists, and earned them about 6,000 yuan (922 U. S. dollars) per month at the tourism peak season from June to October.

Yet just 50 years ago, before Ma Ya's birth, his father and grandfather still lived in the wood, depending mainly on hunting with bows and arrows, in the very form of a primitive society. As few knew their existence in the wildest nature, they were dubbed as "the tribe of mystery".

In the 1960s, after the peaceful liberation of Tibet, Ma Ya's father and some other Lhoba people moved out of the wood and settled on a land offered by the local government.

By 1985, all the Lhoba people of the village have moved into free dwelling houses and started to breed livestock provided by the government, thus marking the brand-new start of their modern life. Instead of hunting and logging, their previous livelihood, local villagers of Lhoba now earn their living on stockbreeding, bamboo weaving, herbal medicine picking, and tourism.

Under the benefits of many national policies preferential for minority groups, the annual income per capita of Nanyi Township reached 5760 yuan (885 U.S. dollars) in 2010.

"Before we moved here, most of the families even couldn't afford a pair of shoes." said Ma Ya, "At that time, I never imagined that I could own a hotel." Nevertheless, the changes are not taking place only in material level. Exempt from China's One-Child policy, Ma Ya has two children. His son Ling Dong studies at Beijing Institute of Technology, majoring in computer science, while his daughter Ya Duo goes to high school in Bayi Town of Nyingchi Prefecture.

Apart from free schooling, pupils were also provided with free board and accommodation, while top ones are offered chances to study in the cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Lhasa. According to the statistics from local authority, by the year of 2010, all children of Luoba ethnic group at school age received compulsory education.

Nowadays, there are few illiterates among young poeople in Qionglin Village. Some can speak and read both Tibetan and mandarine quite fluently. Now, the only worry that troubles Ma Ya is how to let his children understand the story of their ancestors and keep their culture alive. "Our children are lucky to be born at such a good age. But I'm afraid that changes are taking place so fast that they will forget where they came from."

Source: Xinhua

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