tibetans in tibet

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March 17th 1959: Dalai Lama flees Tibet

On this day in 1959, Tenzin Gyatso - the fourteenth Dalai Lama, a central figure of Vajrayana Buddhism - fled Tibet for India. He fled following the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule which broke out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, where the Dalai Lama lived. Fearing for his safety, he and around twenty of his entourage fled Lhasa on March 17th and embarked on a 15 day journey on foot over the Himalayan mountains to Dharamsala in India where they had been offered asylum. No news was heard of the Dalai Lama, and many feared their spiritual and political leader had been killed during the arduous journey. However, on March 30th he crossed into India and people learned that he was safe. He was followed by around 80,000 Tibetans who settled in the same area of India, leading to it becoming known as ‘Little Lhasa’. This place became the home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. Tibet remains under Chinese rule, and the Dalai Lama continues to try to find a peaceful negotiation for Tibetan self rule.

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Portable Shrine (made from a log)

Tibet, early 16th century

Wood with mineral pigments, Diameter: w. 16.20 cm (6 3/8 inches); Overall: h. 25.40 cm (10 inches)

This portable shrine was made from a solid log carved inside and out. Tantric practice can be performed alone in any location; this shrine could be used by a traveling practitioner for meditation, visualization, prayer, and recitation of mantras.

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Holy mantra carved into boulders around the sacred lake Yilhun Lhatso in Eastern Tibet. 

The whole circumference of the lake is covered in these carved boulders, some large and some small, some half underwater. There must be thousands of them altogether!