How the Chinese Rule Tibet

How the Chinese Rule Tibet

On a recent morning in Lhasa a lone Western tourist was strolling through the dim, centuries-old corridors of Jokang Temple, the holiest shrine of contemporary Tibetan Buddhism. An accompanying guide recited the histories of the magnificent thangka paintings adorning the walls and massive Buddhas and buddhisattvas seated in gilded repose within candlelit chapels. An odor of rancid yak butter permeated the musty air. Maroon-robed monks murmured prayers while tending to butterlamps and Tibetan pilgrims performed trance-like prostrations to the drone of chanted mantras and the scraping of their makeshift cardboard handguards on the paving stones. For the tourist, it was a spellbinding scene of ancient tradition and religious devotion.

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