Three Major Dialects in Tibet

The Tibetan language in general can be divided into three dialects including the U-Tsang dialect, Kham dialect and Amdo dialect in all. The so-called Kham Tibetans, Amdo Tibetans and U-Tsang Tibetans are divided according to the three major dialects. U-Tsang usually refers to areas near Lhasa and Shigatse, which is the collective name for the former Tibet regions and back Tibet regions based on traditional region divisions. Besides, this region also includes Ali, Shannan as well as part of Nyingchi and Naqu areas. Tibetans in this region are similar to each other in terms of their dialects. Moreover, they also have something in common speaking of history, politics, economy, culture and military. Traditionally, it is regarded as the core area in Tibet and was called the original Tibet in the past. Tibetans living in this area are collectively referred as U-Tsang Tibetans.

Kham Tibetans: at the very beginning, the Kham region refers to a vast area in the east of U-Tsang, which later on was split into two parts of “Kham” and “Amdo”. Since then, the Kham region is more likely to refer to Hengduan Mountains in the southeastern part of Tibet Plateau, formerly known as the “Duosigan Region.” Traditionally, areas to the east of Tibetan Tandag Mountains are regarded as the Kham region, connected to some parts of Sichuan Province, China in the east and Qinghai Province of China in the north. Specifically speaking, the Kham region includes Chamdo of Tibet, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Ganzi Prefecture, Qinghai Yushu Prefecture and southeastern parts of Naqu area. In the course of history, the Kham region has always been standing in the transitional zone between Tibetans and the Han nationality which is why it shows a few distinctive regional characteristics in terms of administration, religion and economy as well as culture. Kham Tibetans are most noted for their outspoken ethnic characteristics. They are particularly piety in religion and have long been holding a tradition of doing business and traveling far, and looked relatively stronger than other Tibetan people. When it comes to their clothing, the most eye-catching is that the Tibetan men are accustomed to wear a hero knot to show their valiant ethnic spirit. This tradition even remains till today and you can them everywhere in the Lhasa streets.

Amdo Tibetan people: the traditional areas of Amdo Tibetan people mainly involve a broad region in the northwest of Anyemaqen Mountains and west of the stones mountains, Gansu Corridor. The center of Amdo Tibet ranges from Anyemaqen Mountains to Qinghai Lake, China. The clothing of Amdo Tibetan people is almost richly decorated. In winter, their Tibetan robe is mainly made of silk, different from that of U-Tsang areas which is mainly made of relatively simple materails such as Pulu (woolen fabric produced in Tibet for making blankets, garments, etc.) Besides, their hat is always decorated with designing fur while its clothing is usually decorated with colorful patterns including green, gold, yellow and red. Being influenced by Mongolia and the Han nationality, the Amdo Tibetans are more featured in terms of customs and body characteristics etc. Generally speaking, most Amdo Tibetan people are tall and plump and both the female and the male look relatively more beautiful.

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