Foreword I II III IV V VI VII Conclusion
IV. Culture and Art Are Being Inherited and Developed in an All-Round Way
The Central People's Government and the People's Government
of the Tibet Autonomous Region have all along attached importance to the inheritance and
development of Tibetan culture and art. As early as in the 1950s, a group of literary and
art workers from different ethnic groups went to Tibet to collect music, dance, folk
stories, proverbs and folk songs together with their Tibetan counterparts, and edited them
for publication. One fruit of their labors was the book Tibetan Folk Songs. Beginning at
the end of the 1970s, the state conducted a large-scale systematic survey, collection and
edition of the Tibetan folk cultural and art heritage. Since the 1980s, a group of
region-, prefecture- and city-level institutions have been set up to save, collect,
research, edit and publish the Tibetan folk literary and art heritage, on a scale without
parallel in history. The regional government has assigned survey teams to go to the towns,
villages and monasteries to make extensive investigation and collection of this heritage.
These efforts have resulted in the collection of about 30 million words of written
materials in the Han Chinese and Tibetan languages, the making of a large amount of video
tapes and the taking of nearly 10,000 pictures. On this basis, the History of Chinese
Operas and Story-telling Ballads: Tibet Volume, Collection of Chinese Folk Songs: Tibet
Volume, Collection of Folk Dances of Chinese Ethnic Groups: Tibet Volume, and Collection
of Chinese Proverbs: Tibet Volume have been published, and a series of collections of
Tibetan ballads, folk songs, opera music and folk stories are now under compilation and
will be published very soon. The editing and publishing of these books reflects the
regional government's achievements in the protection of the fine aspects of traditional
Tibetan culture and folk literature and art.
The world-famous Life of King Gesar, a long and valuable heroic epic created by the Tibetan people over a considerable long period of time, is a rare literary treasure of China and the entire world. However, it has all along been passed down by folk artists orally.
To better protect it, the regional authorities set up special bodies in 1979 for the collection, research, editing and publishing of the Life of King Gesar. The state placed it on the key scientific research project lists of the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Five-Year Plans. After 20 years of effort, nearly 300 handwritten or block-printed Tibetan volumes have been collected.
Among them, except 100 variant volumes, about 70 volumes have been formally published in the Tibetan language, with a total print run of well over three million copies. Thus, this epic, which had for long centuries been known only to a few folk artists, has come out as a systematically complete literary masterpiece that is called " the king of world epics." In addition, over 20 volumes of the Chinese edition have been published, and some have been translated into English, Japanese and French, and distributed all over the world. This was an unprecedented achievement in protecting the Tibetan literary and art heritage, as well as in publishing history.
Modern Tibetan literature and art have developed greatly in the process of combining with the traditional formats, styles and characteristics. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, a group of literary and art workers from different ethnic groups went into the thick of life in Tibet to explore and inherit the fine aspects of the local literature and art tradition. They created a lot of poems, novels, songs, dances, fine art works, films and photos, introducing new literary and artistic ideas and creation experience to the then closed or semi-closed parts of Tibet. A large number of Tibetan intellectuals loving literature and art joined the new ranks of literary and art workers, and created a batch of modern works with distinctive ethnic features.
Particularly after the Democratic Reform in 1959, a number of excellent literary and art works emerged in Tibet and, to a certain degree, influenced people both at home and abroad. These works include the songs "On the Golden Hill of Beijing" and " Liberated Serfs Sing," the song with actions "Strolling Around the New Town," the song and dance combination "Washing Clothes," the dance epic with music "Emancipated Serfs Turn Toward the Sun," the drama "Princess Wen Cheng" and the movie "The Serfs." Over the past half century, professional literary and art workers in Tibet have created and performed a total of 569 literary and art works and theatrical programs with distinctive ethnic features and a strong feel of the times, of which 51 have won national awards, and 121 regional awards. In the past five years, professional theatrical troupes in Tibet have presented 4,887 performances, attracting audiences totaling 2.79 million. In addition, they have presented over 400 performances for ordinary people every year.
Popular culture and art have developed energetically. Beginning in 1959, the emancipated serfs set up amateur song and dance and Tibetan opera teams one after another in cities and townships.
They composed, wrote and performed a number of programs reflecting the people's new life since the liberation in the forms loved by the masses. In 1963, Tibet, for the first time, held a regional popular theatrical festival, and formed a delegation to participate in the National Amateur Theatrical Festival of Ethnic Minorities in Beijing. The delegation performed a number of excellent programs with new contents and distinctive ethnic characteristics, displaying the new level of popular literary and artistic creation. In the past five years, with the support of the Central People's Government and other autonomous regions, provinces and municipalities, Tibet has intensified its efforts for the construction of cultural facilities, investing a total of 140.46 million yuan in this sphere. So far, Tibet has constructed more than 400 mass art centers, where rich recreational and sports activities of diverse forms can be carried out. The Tibet Library was opened in July 1996, and has been visited by over 100,000 Tibetan readers so far. Now Tibet has 17 mobile performance teams and some 160 amateur theatrical performance teams and Tibetan opera teams at the county level. These teams always perform for the people of the farming and pastoral areas, and are very popular there. Many of their performances have won awards at national or regional theatrical festivals. In addition, the various prefectures, cities and counties hold mass theatrical festivals from time to time to promote popular cultural activities. On the traditional Tibetan Shoton Festival in recent years, Tibetan opera and song and dance performances have been given in Tibet, together with a wide range of other colorful traditional cultural activities of popular appeal. Lhozhag County, Biru County, Chenggo Township in Gonggar County, Jiongriwuqi Township in Ngamring County and Gyangze County, which are famous for their Tibetan opera, song and dance performances, folk plastic art, folk dances, Tibetan opera and Tibetan carpets, respectively, have received official recognition from the state, which invested over 2.6 million yuan to construct the state-level cultural garden for rural children in Doilungdeqen County and established the Tibet Children's Art Ensemble in 1996. The Tibet Children's Art Ensemble has performed twice in Beijing, and participated in the International Children's Art Festival in the United States in 1998, both times with great success. From 1995 to 1999, a total of 40 professional and amateur art ensembles made up of 360 people were sent by the Tibet Autonomous Region to perform or hold exhibitions in or conduct academic exchanges with more than 20 countries and regions worldwide, and wherever they went, they were enthusiastically welcomed.