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Tibetan Robe

The Tibetans call it zhuba. It is their favourite attire, and the most distinctive hallmark that tells the Tibetan from people of other ethnic backgrounds. The Tibetan robe is loose-fitting, with long sleeves and a wider-than-usual waist, and its front is opened from the right side. The Tibetan robe is made from leather among herdsmen, and woolen fabrics among farmers. Virtually every Tibetan man wears such a robe, which is also pocket-less. Instead of buttons, it is held together with a waistband, with the front puffing up so as to hold wooden bowls, roast barley flour bag, butter container and even an infant in the bosom. When a Tibetan man puts on his robe, he tends to wear only one sleeve and pull the other sleeve around his back to the front of it – a habit that has much to do with the weather. On the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau there is a glaring difference in temperature between day and night, and the weather changes unpredictably. “A mountain experiences four seasons in a single day, and the weather changes every ten miles,” as the local saying goes. In summer it could be chilly in the morning and hot at noon. That is why a local herdsman has to keep warm with the Tibetan robe when he goes outdoors in the morning, but by noontime it becomes so hot that he has to wear only one sleeve or leave both sleeves alone by tying them around his waist. When dusk sets in he has to put on both sleeves because it’s become cold once again. The loose-fitting robe also makes an excellent quilt when the wearer stops for the night. Obviously the Tibetan robe with its multiple functions is indispensable for the Tibetans.

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