A Market Scene in Lhasa

The north of Tibet is mostly populated by nomads and the south by farmers. They trade their produce with each other. For centuries Tibetans have also ventured far beyond their borders to obtain products that were otherwise unavailable and to sell their own goods where they could find a market. Until 1959, traders took wool to Kalimpong and Calcutta in India and brought back hats, cloth, sugar and spice. In China they obtained brocade and brick tea in exchange for musk, medicinal plants, minerals and wool. The largest market in Lhasa was in the Barkhor, where crowds of pilgrims and merchants mingled and goods from far-flung places could be bought and sold.
The Lama Mani tradition dates back to the 12th century. It was initiated by a young girl who returned to life several days after her death. During her short period in the other world, she observed the consequences of good and bad deeds. Realizing she could help other beings avoid suffering, she taught people the laws of karma, using a painting to illustrating her advice. In later times, the Lama Manis’ repertoire included stories illustrating karmic consequences, other aspects of Buddhist doctrine and historical anecdotes.
The display illustrates a typical scene in the Barkhor. Two merchants hawk their wares while pilgrims and passers by listen to the Lama Mani telling a tale, pointing out scenes in the thangka. The woman with the baby is a pilgrim from the Derge region of Kham; the others are in Central Tibetan attire.

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