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  Roles of Tibetan Knives  


The Tibetan knife is essential and indispensable for Tibetans in daily life. All Tibetans, male and female, carry knives. Indeed, knives have become a kind of decorative ornament loved by both genders. It also has a high art value as a form of ethnic handcraft with a longstanding good reputation at home and abroad.

There are three sorts of knives: long, short, and small, roughly measuring over 1 meter, 40 centimeters, and just over 10 centimeters in length respectively. Concerning the shape, there are the pastoral area, kamba, and Xigaze area styles. Knives are widely used for chopping down trees, butchering, or even for performing sky burials in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

Everyone knows what role knives play in daily life. In Tibet, however, knives have many other roles:

Tools for daily life.

Given the natural conditions unique to Tibet, Tibetans eat meat, butter, and zanba (roasted highland barley). To eat meat, they need knives. In some places, knives serve as plows, since some locals still rely on the slash-and-burn method.


Tibetan knives are adorned with handles made of bull horns, antelope horns, wood, or metal. Knife sheaths are made of animal hides, bull horns, metal, or wood and are adorned with the "eight auspicious patterns" in gold, silver, copper and iron wire, swastikas, and the auspicious pattern of dragon and phoenix, or are inlaid with corals, agates, pearls, and jade.

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