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of Tibetan People
The 5.4 million Tibetan people are the 10th largest ethnic group of people in China.
The traditional, or mythological, explanation
of the Tibetan people's origin is that
they are the descendants of the monkey Pha
Trelgen Changchup Sempa and rock ogress Ma
Tibetans are phenotypically diverse. Recent
research into the ability of Tibetans'
metabolism to function normally in the oxygen-deficient
atmosphere above 4,400 metres (14,400 ft)
shows that, although Tibetans living at high
altitudes have no more oxygen in their blood
than other people, they have 10 times more
nitric oxide and double the forearm blood
flow of low-altitude dwellers. Nitric oxide
causes dilation of blood vessels allowing
blood to flow more freely to the extremities
and aids the release of oxygen to tissues.
It is not known whether the high levels of
nitric oxide are due to a genetic mutation
or whether people from lower altitudes would
gradually adapt similarly after living for
prolonged periods at high altitudes.
Tibetans speak the Tibetic languages, many
varieties of which are mutually unintelligible.
Most Tibetans practice Tibetan Buddhism,
though some observe the indigenous Bön
and others are Muslims. Tibetan festivals
such as Losar, Shoton, Linka (festival),
and the Bathing Festival are deeply rooted
in indigenous religion and also contain foreign
influences. Each person takes part in the
Bathing Festival three times: at birth, at
marriage, and at death. It is traditionally
believed that people should not bathe casually,
but only on the most important occasions.
Most Tibetans wear their hair long, although
in recent times due to Chinese influence,
some men do crop their hair short. The women
have two plaits and the girls have one.
Because of Tibet's cold weather, the
men and women wear long thick dresses (chuba). The men wear a shorter version with pants
underneath. The style of the clothing varies
between regions. Nomads often wear thick
Polyandry is practiced in parts of Tibet.
A typical arrangement is where a woman may
marry male siblings. This is usually done
to avoid division of property and provide
financial security. However, monogamy is
more common throughout Tibet. Marriages are
sometimes arranged by the parents, if the
son or daughter has not picked their own
partner by a certain age.
Many of the houses and monasteries are built
on elevated, sunny sites facing the south.
They are commonly made of a mixture of rocks,
wood, cement and earth. Little fuel is available
for heating or lighting, so flat roofs are
built to conserve heat, and multiple windows
are constructed to let in sunlight. Walls
are usually sloped inwards at 10 degrees
as a precaution against frequent earthquakes
in the mountainous area. Tibetan homes and
buildings are white-washed on the outside,
and beautifully decorated inside.
The Cuisine of Tibet reflects the rich heritage
of the country and people's adaptation
to high altitude and religious culinary restrictions.
The most important crop is barley. Dough
made from barley flour, called tsampa, is
the staple food of Tibet. This is either
rolled into noodles or made into steamed
dumplings called momos. Meat dishes are likely
to be yak, goat, or mutton, often dried,
or cooked into a spicy stew with potatoes.
Mustard seed is cultivated in Tibet, and
therefore features heavily in its cuisine.
Yak yoghurt, butter and cheese are frequently
eaten, and well-prepared yoghurt is considered
something of a prestige item.