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Across China: A Tibetan dream keeps culture alive

(Xinhua)    19:36, May 05, 2015

XINING, May 5 -- Tenzin Nangshu, an international relations graduate, is building a Chinese cultural dream in his Tibetan hometown in northwest China's Qinghai Province.

Last May, the 28-year-old man opened his hostel Dream Land in Tongren County, in eastern Qinghai, the home of Regong arts and a center of thangka painting.

A traditional wooden structure, Dream Land not only provides tourists with somewhere to stay and decent meal, but Tenzin Nangshu also wants his guests to experience and understand the real culture of his people.

"I don't need to tell anyone what Tibetan culture is. You can see it in every painting on the wall, feel it in the handicrafts in every corner, and find it in the books in the reading room," he said.

When Tibetan arts are mentioned, those who know anything at all think first of thangka painting or patchwork barbola. Tenzin Nangshu wants to show people the vast spectrum of Tibetan crafts, especially those at risk of extinction.

Tenzin Nangshu himself makes boots and drums, skills he learned from local craftsmen. Traditionally, Tibetan families pass on their boots from one generation to the next. They beat their sacred drums only once a year, so market demand is limited and the crafts are in danger of being lost forever.

"I also make Tibetan boot pendants and small drums. I exhibit them in the hostel and sell them to guests," he said. "I want to protect the arts here, while allowing people to take something special back home."

Attracted by its unique charm, the hostel received around 1,000 tourists each month during peak season, mostly foreigners, monks and young Chinese people seeking peace.

"What I am doing also helps me find the lost part of myself," Tenzin Nangshu said.

A graduate of Beijing International Studies University, Tenzin Nangshu worked as a real estate salesman, stage manager and a peddler of thangka paintings in the capital, but was not happy lost in the megacity.

"I noticed changes in myself and almost forgot my own identity," he said. So he left Beijing after eight years in the city and headed back to his Tibetan hometown to restore that identity.

Tenzin Nangshu has plans to devote himself to the public good. He hopes to teach some local disabled people and orphans traditional skills and showcase their work in his museum-hostel-emporium.

"I belong to where I began. Only in this remote and tranquil land do I really know who I am and where I'm going," he said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Du Mingming,Bianji)

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