Tibetan Stone and Rock Carvings
Tibet is in rich repositories of culturally significant stone and rock carvings. When you are travelling in Tibet, you will find stone and rock carvings everywhere. With diligence and wisdom, like their ancestors, Tibetans left excellent records of development and social changes on the Tibetan Plateau. These are being discovered and becoming widely known, as is their unique geographic environment and the unique ethnic culture that produced them.
Tibetan Rock Carving
Tibetan Rock Carving is a term to describe the line carvings and sculpted reliefs. Contents in Tibetan rock carvings are various including the solo patterns of animals, human figures, fairy gods, plants, utensils, architectures, signs and other natural articles. There are more than 80% rock carvings mainly describe animal images, so animals may be a typical character of Tibetan rock carvings. Rock carvings usually describe the hunting scenes and the daily life of the nomadic people. While some of them are related to the agriculture, for example, the plants and the star and moon images express the pray ceremony situation. Tibetan rock carvings are a historical book to record the past days of Tibetan people and the ancient ethnic groups. This artwork is an artistic language of the original troupes in Tibet. When the footprint of the past days is buried by the time, these Tibetan rock carvings provide valuable materials for us to dig more things about the original culture of Tibet.
Ritu Rock Carving, Yaowangshan Rock Carving and Zaxi Cave Rock Carving are three outstanding representatives of Tibetan Rock Carvings. Ritu Rock Carvings exist in the Ngari area. In these hundreds of rock carvings, contents include hunting activities, war and fighting, religious ceremonies, dancing scenes, etc. The major color tone of Ritu Rock Carving is red. The typical character of Ritu Rock Carvings is the simple composition drawn by simple techniques. Yaoshanwang Rock Carvings exist in the Yaowangshan Mountain in Lhasa. This kind of rock carvings is made in the modern time. The main articles in these carvings are religious figures. Zaxi Cave Rock Carvings are in the east bank of the Namtso Lake in Nagqu area. These carvings are spread in the 8 natural caves. Most of the carvings are colored in red. Patterns of this kind of carvings are animals, human, sun and pagodas, etc.
Tibetan Stone Carving
Black Stone Carvings
In Tibet, black stone can be found in ordinary Tibetan homes because it is seen as the propitious stone by Tibetan people who can drive the evil and befall the fortune. The stone carving is not very expensive because it is carved by machine not handcraft work.
Mani Stone Carving
Among the various kinds of Tibetan folk carvings, the most popular is Mani stone carving due to its vast subject matter and rich contents which have a unique Tibetan hue.
In Tibet, stone carvings are almost entirely related to religion; "Mani Pile," also known as "lection stone" plays an important part in forming this strong religious atmosphere. The "Mani pile" is a ubiquitous sight near villages or on Tibetan roadsides. Tibetan Buddhists place small rocks into piles, where each rock is inscribed with the six-word mystic teaching of truth (Om-ma-ni, pad-me-Hum) -- literally "Om! The jewel is in the lotus". A Tibetan will pause at a Mani pile to pray by walking around it clockwise. The subjects of Mani stone carvings are usually lections, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. According to a carver, the lections or Buddhas on the stone are carved at the request of the relatives of the dead people to release souls from purgatory. Usually, the contents are decided by a Shaman.
Mani stone carving differs significantly from place to place in Tibet according to the demand, interest and materials. Mani stone carvings in western Tibet take on an elegant flavor, while those in eastern Tibet have an air of antiquity.
Despite natural erosion and the trials and tribulations of history, large numbers of Tibetan stone and rock carving artworks still survive today for people to view and study of various "Culture" series in the present day.
Tibetan stone carving culture broadly encompasses four periods: prehistory, slavery, feudal and socialism, reflecting the different nature of these societies. The content and expression of stone carving culture in various times corresponds to social patterns and represents Tibetan social development in different periods. This demonstrates that culture is affected and determined by the society that produces it.