I have traveled extensively around China, and have discovered many of the different cultures and traditions of the country. Living abroad, it's exciting to continually discover your "adopted country." Qinghai is one area I had the chance to visit in the summer of 2011. It is one of the best places I have ever seen in China; I was impressed by the culture and authenticity of the area. Tibetan culture is still very strong there, as the area used to be part of Amdo, one of the three provinces of ancient Tibet. The Gelug sect of Buddhism, the predominant sect of Tibetan Buddhism, is on display in every town and village. It is easy to distinguish practitioners of the Gelug sect from other forms of Buddhism by the yellow hats the monks wear (the Gelug sect is often known as the Yellow Hat Sect).The photo above on the right was taken on the road between Tongren and Xiahe (in neighboring Gansu province). On this journey, you drive across some of the grasslands of the Tibetan plateau, which have long been the home of Tibetan nomads. Read on after the jump for some more photos of Qinghai...
I had some beautiful encounters with the Tibetan character. Living closely with nature, the Tibetan nomads are respectful of their surroundings. This Tibetan hunter was walking with his dog through the grasslands.
Tibetan people are very grateful for nature; this woman is giving tsampa (a Tibetan dietary staple of roasted flour mixed with Tibetan butter tea) to the ants, praying at the same time with prayer beads in her hands.
On the grasslands of Qinghai, a timid smile and a mischievous glance. His hair is mussed from a ride on his motorbike, a popular way to travel on the grasslands.
In small villages on the road between nomad camps, living conditions are basic. The teapot is hot to ensure a warm welcome for cold guests. This is the interior of a house in Duo Wa Village between Tongren and Xiahe.
For a cup of tea, you can't do much better than a Tibetan tea house, and they are very popular places in every village and city. Where people go to have a rest, to eat and to meet one another. A warm and colorful ambiance.
Tibetans are strong believers, often praying many times a day. Many hold their beads in their hands for the entire day.
Portrait of a monk wearing his yellow hat during evening ceremony.
Tibetan people are very attached to their religion and monasteries; it is very common for children to be sent from home to study at a monastery. In the Amdo region the biggest monastery is in Xiahe, located just at the border with Qinghai. The Repkong monastery remains very important, well know for Tangka painting. The predominant Tibetan sect of Buddhism is the Gelug sect, distinctly visible by the yellow hats.
A monk's robes waiting to be worn at evening ceremony.
Evening prayer ceremony at the Repkong monastery.
The monks wear thick boots to protect against the region's frigid temperatures.
Prayer hall of a small monastery on the road to Tongren from Xiahe.
Young monks are practicing how to draw a perfect mandala. Once finished, the white clay drawing will be erased, only to be begun anew.
One of kitchens of Labrang Monastery. Cooking is one of a monk's many duties.
I hope you enjoyed this selection of photographs, focusing on the religion and people of Qinghai and the surrounding Tibetan areas.
A big thanks to Melanie Dornier for her marvelous portrait of the Tibetan people of Qinghai. Keep up to date with her work on her website.