Culture of Wooden Bowls

The affection between husband and wife is also seen in the wooden bowls. If the husband is going on a long trip, after the wife sees him off and returns home, she first fills his bowl with tea and then pours tea for herself. When she drinks her tea, she pours out the tea from his bowl onto a clean place and puts the bowl tidily back into the cupboard. And, when her husband returns, she fills his bowl with hot tea and gives it to him with both hands.

Grown-up children live separately and when they return to see their parents, they still use the same wooden bowls they used before. The only difference is that when the son and the daughter-in-law come together, the son uses the same wooden bowl he has used before, while the daughter-in-law is only given a temporary, which today is the china bowl.

The same applies to the son-in-law who does not have his own wooden bowl in his parents-in-law's home. However, the son-in-law that has married into and is living with the family should be regarded as a different matter; he will have his own wooden bowl because he is the future master of the family.

A crack in the wooden bowl is regarded as a sign of ill luck, and the bowl must be replaced. Now that china bowls have become popular, every family uses them as spares for guests. If the edge of the china bowl is clipped, it is also regarded as ill luck and cannot be used, especially by the guests. They avoid drinking tea from a cracked bowl in the early morning, and if they should do so accidentally, those who believe in this taboo stay at home the whole day just to avoid disaster.

It is cold in the northwestern part of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and mild in the southeast. People wear leather robes in the northwest to keep out the cold, while pulu (a kind of vegetable fiber) woolen garments are adopted in the southeast. While the garments are of different materials, they are both very loose with very broad cuffs and are very comfortable to wear. In the day, when it is sunny and warm, one can push up the sleeves to cool down; at night, one can sleep in the same clothes.

Both leather robes and pulu woolen garments have a belt around the waist, and when the belt is fastened, the front part becomes a hollow pocket in which one can put many daily necessities. One dispensable article in the pocket of every traveler is a wooden bowl, as it is very important to use one's own bowl. An average wooden bowl is cheap but good, and common people can afford it.

In Tibet, everyone who leaves home for a trip carries a wooden bowl in this way. The wooden bowls of the balladeers are the largest and "can hold 4.5 kilo of butter tea." Whenever the balladeers perform in the open at fairs or in marketplaces, they place their wooden bowls at the side, asking for tips. Then, the wooden bowl has an additional use, to hold money or other things.

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