Lhasa has many special local products. They are Tibetan Thangka, Tibetan silver ornaments, yak wool, Dzi bead, aweto, milk products, Tibetan liquor and Lhasa sweet tea as well as various handicrafts and Tibetan medicines.
ibetan Thangka is a sort of scroll painting. It has distinctive ethnic features, strong religious flavor and unique artistic style, and has been highly prized by the Tibetan people. Some of the Thangka has many colorful and charming portraits of Buddhas, while some reflect the Tibetan history and folk customs. The organization of Tibetan Thangka is well knit, well rounded, balanced and changeable. Thangka has varieties of patterns. There are colored drawing Thangka and printing Thangka besides embroidery, brocade (barbola), silk tapestry and pearl ones.
Tibetan bracelets are usually made of Tibetan silver and copper. With Sanskrit inscribed on, they seem unsophisticated and mysterious. Tibetan people wear crescent silver plate, which is a symbol of purity. And the agate and gems mounted in the silver plate connote blessing from the god, good luck and good health in life. In addition, the Tibetan ornaments with ruby and sapphire have an obvious easiness and sincerity, for which you will be deeply shocked by its strong survival consciousness.
Dzi bead is known as “Dzi” in Tibetan, according to the ancient legends, Dzi beads can not only drive evil, protect people from disaster, stars (and sun and moon) and the eight kinds of spiritual beings, but also protect bodies, produce power and benevolent rule, and gain good reputation. The occurrence of Dzi bead can date back to 3000 years ago. In ancient time, Dzi bead was called god bead. The design and shape of Dzi bead are deemed to be different symbols and the effectiveness to cultivate different supernatural powers. Dzi bead can be divided into weathered Dzi bead and authentic Dzi bead, including the varieties of “sun and moon”, ornamental sceptre, “heaven and earth”, Nectar and so on. All Dzi beads contain precious and rare mineral elements, that is, the effectiveness and magnetic field, etc. They have the power of making people find a way of treading through treacherous waters and gaining luck and blessings. What’s more, authentic pure Dzi bead is also well known as “genuine Dzi bead”. It is often called Dzi bead for short. Dzi beads are divided into “pure Dzi bead” and “Chong Dzi bead”. Tibetans think it good luck to own a Dzi bead. And those who once have one Dzi bead means the endless good luck is coming. Therefore, Tibetan people regard pure Dzi bead as the mascot of god, and pressure it as their own lives.
Aweto is not what people think to be an insect in winter and become grass in summer. However, it is the parasitism of fungus in insect called Chinese caterpillar fungus.
The insects for aweto to live in are aweto hepialid moths, which usually grow in brush woods and meadows at the shady or semi-shady slopes with an altitude of 3,000-5,000m, as insect, aweto hepialid moths have a complete life cycle, including four statuses: ovum, larva, nymph and moth (namely the imago).
The aweto fungi move into the larva body of aweto hepialid moths in the first twenty days of September each year, they spread all over the months. And cohere together with soil. In the last ten days of September, the head of the parasitical larva body develops a stroma of one centimeter high, living through the winter in the frozen earth. At the beginning of May the next year, the stromatic awetos grow out of the earth. Finally, in the last ten days of June, the stroma becomes obese, and the insect body underground gradually rots and becomes empty. And then it becomes useless in medicine. So the best time to collect awetos is from the last ten days of May to the last ten days of June each year.
The most popular kinds of milk in Tibet are sour milk and milk scrap. However there are two sorts of sour milk, one is cheese, which is made of milk that has been used to extract ghee, the other is made of milk which has not been used to extract ghee. Sour milk is the food after it has been saccharified. This kind of milk is more nutritious and easy to digest, especially for the old and the young. Milk scrap is the substance after the milk has been refined to make Su butter, and it is formed by cooking and evaporating. During the course of cooking milk, the milk skin can be unpeeled. Like the bean curd skin, it is delicious and nutritious. The milk scrap can be made into milk cake and milk bulk as well.
Milk products are the important food of Tibetan. The Tibetans always keep them at home or take them with themselves when going outside for food. In Tibet, where there are few between-meal nibbles, the adults always give children milk scrap as between-meal nibble.
Tibetan distilled liquor is a sort of light alcohol made of wheat or highland barley through fermentation, which tastes weak and mellow, and the alcohol is about 20-30 degrees strong. The distilled liquor of Mangkang County in east Tibet and Yadong County at the border area is famous for its distinctive features.
Lhasa sweet tea is made from black tea with juice extracted. With milk and sugar added, Lhasa sweet tea is sweet, delicious and nutritious. The method for making sweet tea in East Asia is particularly exquisite and has a more distinctive flavor.
Handicrafts: the folk handicraft industry of Tibet has a long history, multiple varieties and unique style; carpet, pulu, Tibetan waist knife, Tibetan clothes, Tibetan cap, wool-weaved carpet, wood bowl, pottery and ornaments are the souvenirs welcome by tourists at home and from abroad.
Tibetan carpet is mainly archaized carpet, which is said to have a history of 600 years. Tibetan carpet is uniquely weaved with bright and harmonious colors, which are not easy to fade while being washed. Its surface feels soft and exquisite. The carpet is durable in addition to its strong national feature of design, which adds more value of appreciation and collection. Pulu is transliterated from Tibetan, which is actually woolen weaved artificially, with many colors of black, red and green. It is the main material for making clothes, shoes and caps, and the clothing made of it is everlasting and warm.
Gold and silver wares are also traditional Tibetan handcraft. Gold and silver wares generally include ornaments such as bracelet, ring, necklace and headwear, and household articles such as flagon, cup, scoop, chopstick and bowl. Skilled craftsmen can make silver wares mounted with various vivid designs such as phoenix, tiger and lion.
There are many kinds of necklace in Tibet. They are made of gold, silver, turquoise, bone, wood and stone, etc. The necklaces are simple and unsophisticated and natural, but few of them are repeated because they all are made by hand.
Tibetan knife is favored by tourists at home and abroad because of its fine workmanship, sharp edge and unique style.
Tibetan incense is also a sort of very good tour souvenir, and Tibetan people use it to worship Buddha, drive evils away and conduct religious activities. There are many sorts of Tibetan incenses in market, and “Guolenieaxiang” is the most famous and precious. “Guolenieaxiang” has pure and strong aroma when stored in wardrobe, it can make not only clothes aromatic but also can protect the clothing from any insect. Some Tibetan incense composed of special elements can prevent and cure infections and epidemics, etc.
Tibetan medicine is a unique Tibetan pharmacological science system that is formed during the course of their struggle against the nature and various diseases. It has a history of 2000 years or more, and many Tibetan medicines have good curative effect on some diseases such as cardiovascular disease and tumor; “pearl seventy”, “momozhiqi”, “zhifanshiwu”, “alpine snow lotus herb”, “rhodiola root”, “musk” and so on are rare Tibetan medicines. Generally, these medicines can be procured in ordinary drugstores or tourism stores.