Behave Yourself: Etiquettes and Taboos in Tibet
Because of its unique culture and religion, Tibet has different
standards of appropriate behavior, an etiquette that must be observed if
you wish to be considered a polite guest. When in Rome, as they say.
- Remember not to step on the threshold when entering a tent, house, or temple.
- The particle "la", pronounced at the end of a person's name, is used to express respect.
- If you are asked to sit down, cross your legs - do not stretch your legs forward with the soles of your feet facing others.
should be accepted with both hands. When presenting a gift you should
bow forward and hold the gift with both hands held higher than your
head. When offering tea, wine, etc., you should present the cup or bowl
using both hands, making sure your fingers to not touch the inside of
- Do not touch, walk over, or sit on any religious texts, sacred objects or prayer flags.
your host presents you with a cup of wine, you should dip your ring
finger into the wine and flick the wine at the sky, into the air, and
at the ground to express your respect to the heavens, the Earth and the
ancestors, before sipping your wine for the first time. After your
first sip, your host will fill your cup back up to the top, at which
point you are expected to take another sip. After the host fills your
cup again, you should drain your cup to the bottom.
people do not eat horse, dog, or donkey, as well as fish (in some
areas). While in Tibet, you should follow local dietary restrictions.
- It is not polite to clap your palms and spit behind the Tibetan people.
- Tibetan people stretch out their tongue to say hello to you. Also it is a courtesy to put their hands palm in front of breast.
not smoke in monasteries. Also it is not permitted to touch or
photograph Buddha statues and religious articles. In addition, when
walking around the monastery, you should always walk in a clockwise
direction (with the exception of Bon temples).
walking around dagobas, monasteries or Mani piles, please go around
them in a clockwise direction (with the exception of Bon sites),
without crossing them.
- Eagles are sacred birds in
the eyes of the Tibetan people. Do not disturb them, drive them away or
injure them. You should also not disturb sheep or cows decorated with
red, green or yellow cloth.
increased tourism in Tibet, Tibetan people are becoming more used to
the habits of the "Big Noses" (western people), their jeans, sun
glasses and shorts (note: Among Tibetan people, shorts are
prohibited). Because of this fact, modern-day Tibetans are more
tolerant of foreign customs. Nonetheless, we still suggest you take the
above advice in order to show respect for local traditions.
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