Foreword I II III IV V VI VII Conclusion
China is a united multi-ethnic country. As a member of the big family of the Chinese nation, the Tibetan people have created and developed their brilliant and distinctive culture during a long history of continuous exchanges and contacts with other ethnic groups, all of whom have assimilated and promoted each other's cultures. Tibetan culture has all along been a dazzling pearl in the treasure-house of Chinese culture as well as that of the world as a whole.
The gradual merger of the Tubo culture of the Yalong Valley in the middle part of the basin of the Yarlung Zangbo River, and the ancient Shang-Shung culture of the western part of the Qinghai- Tibet Plateau formed the native Tibetan culture. In the period of the reign of Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century, Buddhism was introduced to the Tubo people from the Central Plain of China, India and Nepal, and gradually developed into Tibetan Buddhism with its distinctive characteristics. At the same time, the Indian and Nepalese cultures of South Asia, the Persian and Arabic cultures of West Asia and especially the Han Chinese culture of the Central Plain had considerable influence on the development of Tibetan culture. In the long process of Tibetan cultural development, Tibetan architecture art and the plastic arts such as sculpture, painting, decoration and handicrafts, as well as music, dance, drama, spoken and written language, literature in written form, folk literature, Tibetan medicine and pharmacology, astronomy and the calendar all reached very high levels.
Tibet later became a local regime practicing a system of feudal serfdom under a theocracy, and ruled by a few upper-class monks and nobles. This ensured that Tibetan Buddhist culture gained the dominant position in Tibetan culture for a long period of time, until the Democratic Reform was carried out in 1959. Throughout this period, a handful of upper-class lamas and aristocrats monopolized the means of production, culture and education.
Cultural and artistic pursuits were regarded as their exclusive amusements, while the serfs and slaves, who constituted 95 percent of the Tibetan population, lived in extreme poverty and were not guaranteed even the basic right of subsistence, let alone the right to enjoy culture and education. The long reign of feudal serfdom under theocracy not only severely fettered the growth of the productive forces in Tibet, but also resulted in a hermetically sealed and moribund traditional Tibetan culture, including cultural relics, historic sites and sites for Buddhist worship. As for modern science, technology, culture and education, they did not get any chance to develop at all.
After the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, the Central People's Government attached great importance to the protection and development of the fine aspects of traditional Tibetan culture. The "Seventeen-Article Agreement" on measures for the peaceful liberation of Tibet signed by the Central People's Government and the local government of Tibet in 1951 clearly stipulates: "In accordance with the actual conditions of Tibet, the spoken and written Tibetan language and school education will be progressively developed." In 1959, with the support of the Central Government, Tibet carried out the Democratic Reform to abolish the feudal serf system and liberate the million serfs and slaves, and implemented the ethnic regional autonomy system there step by step. This marked the advent of a brand-new era in the social and cultural development of Tibet, and ended the monopoly exercised over Tibetan culture by the few upper-class feudal lamas and aristocrats, making it the common legacy for all the people of Tibet to inherit and carry on.
In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy, the Central People's Government and the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have made great efforts in the past 40-plus years to promote the social and economic development of Tibet, to satisfy the Tibetan people's increasing needs for rich material and cultural lives. At the same time, they have devoted large amounts of human, financial and material resources to protecting and carrying forward the fine aspects of traditional Tibetan culture, as well as initiating and developing modern science, culture and education by employing legal, economic and administrative means. As a result, considerable achievements attracting worldwide attention have been attained. All the people in Tibet, as masters of the new era, jointly carry on, develop and enjoy the traditional Tibetan culture, and jointly create modern civilized life and culture, bringing unprecedented prosperity and development to Tibetan culture.