Culture of Wooden Bowls

Monks also use wooden bowls. People who know the monasteries well can tell which monastery the monk is from based on the shape of the bowl. The iron-club lamas always move the bowl from one hand to the other playfully, which is quite dazzling. In religious meetings, when the iron-club lama keeps order, his wooden bowl is an emblem of authority that is used to knock the head of those who do not observe the order, and they dare not respond.

Clergy and laypeople making obeisance to the Dalai Lama in the morning were usually awarded three bowls of butter tea. While they listened respectfully to the Dalai Lama or the prince regent, they sipped the butter tea from their bowls constantly.

When a person dies, the other family members fill the wooden bowl that he or she used for butter tea and place it before the corpse. On the seventh day after thesky burial, the family as well as relatives and friends follow the priest in charge to the bank of theLhasaRiver to hold a ceremony wishing the dead person's spirit safety and peace.

In the ceremony, they lay the wooden bowl in front of the dead person before them and repeatedly fill it with tea to wish the person a good voyage. Finally, they pour the tea out of the wooden bowl, clean it, and give it to the priest. After that, the bowl belongs to the priest. This is a rule in the burial custom: The priest in charge of the celestial burial possesses the bowl every time after the dead body is buried. If the family wants to keep the dead person's wooden bowl as a memento, they must buy it from the priest.

Tibet itself produces wooden bowls, and Diqen in Southwest China'sYunnan Provincealso makes them. In Tibet, Nang County and Zayu in Nyingchi Prefecture, Gyaca, Lhunze, and Co Nag in Shannan Prefecture, and Gar in Ngari Prefecture all produce wooden bowls, in which the Chaya wooden bowls produced in Co Nag and the Duishiu wooden bowls produced in Gar are the most famous. These wooden bowls are made of the roots or stumps of trees. With the fine workmanship, a wooden bowl of upper quality is valued at 10 yaks.

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