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Centuries-old Tibetan calligraphy kept alive


09:42, August 02, 2012

LHASA, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- At 38, Dawa Tsering often recalls with fondness how hard he used to practise Tibetan writing as a child.

"I often wrote on a birch board with a bamboo stick dipped with soya sauce on its sharpened end," said Dawa Tsering, who has been working as a porter for 13 years at a department store near the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.

When every inch of the board was covered with writing, he would wash it and dry it in the sun before he continued writing. The birch board, known as "jangshing" in Tibetan, was an essential stationery item for Dawa Tsering and his peers when they first learned to write.

"I can write beautifully thanks to those years of hard work," he said.

Dawa Tsering only finished primary school, but can write fluently in many different styles. "When written in artistic styles, some Tibetan words resemble shapes of different animals. But today, few people can write that way."

His tough and tedious job -- carrying endless packs of goods for sale at the store -- never eroded his love of writing. "Look at these signboards," he said. "The writings are all in the basic form. They should have invited more creative calligraphers."

Dawa Tsering is particularly proud of his son Dondrup, who studies at Lhasa No. 1 Primary School and has learned three styles of Tibetan calligraphy.

"It's a pleasure to watch him practise and sometimes we write together," he said.

Tibetan calligraphy is believed to have been created in the seventh century, during Songtsan Gambo's reign as king of the Tubo Kingdom. Tibetan writing is universal, though its dialect varies in different communities in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and the Tibetan-inhabited areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

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