New Year banquet
Tibetan New Year is set according to the Tibetan calendar, and is usually around the same time or a couple weeks later than the Chinese New Year. The most important day on the Tibetan calendar, it is celebrated by Tibetans, Mongolians and Tibetan-related people with people tying prayer flags, cooking flour and butter on fires of smoldering evergreens, lighting lamps, making offerings, praying at shrines and monasteries, feasting on special dumplings, socializing, lighting purifying fires with fragrant smoke from juniper, artemisia and other herbs, gambling and drinking large quantities of chang.
Losar is marked with activities that symbolise purification, and welcoming in the new. Buildings are whitewashed and thoroughly cleaned. Buddhist monks adorn the monasteries with the finest decorations, and conduct religious ceremonies. Rituals are performed to drive away evil spirits.The word Losar is a Tibetan word for New Year. Lo means year and Sar means new. Celebrations often feature horse racing, lama dancing and offerings to Gods.
Usually celebrated in mid or late February, Losar begins on the day of a new moon that marks the first day of the first month on the Tibetan calendar. It is called Gyalpo Losar in Tibetan which means “King’s New Year”. People dress up in their best clothes, greet each other and go to the monasteries to receive blessings. The period of time differs from 5 to 7 days. Tibetans dress in their best and cleanest clothes. Festivities last from the 1st day of the new year until the 15th day. The establishment of the Tibetan New Year has close connections with the use of the Tibetan calendar.
Tibetans all over the world celebrate the Tibetan New Year. The first month of Tibetan Calendar is filled with festivals. Celebrations take place almost every day. Losar is the most important one. Depending on a number of factors, Losar can fall as early as mid-January and as late as late March. Some years entire months are deleted from the Tibetan Year due to inauspicious alignments of planets and other factors. In the monasteries, the celebrations for the Losar begin on the 29th day of the 12th month, the day before Tibetan New Year's Eve. On that day, monks do puja (a special kind of ritual) for a protective deities' and begin preparations for Losar celebrations.
See Separate Articles TIBETAN FESTIVALS AND CALENDARS factsanddetails.com; REGIONAL LOSAR CELEBRATIONS factsanddetails.com; WINTER AND SPRING FESTIVALS IN TIBET factsanddetails.com; Wikipedia article on Losar Wikipedia
History of Losar
The celebration of Losar can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet. During the period when Tibetans practiced the Bon religion, a spiritual ceremony was held each winter in which people offered large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. This religious festival later evolved into an annual Buddhist festival believed to have originated during the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth king of Tibet.
In ancient times when the peach tree was in blossom, it was considered as the starting of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD, the first day of the first Tibetan month became fixed as the new year. It is an occasion when Tibetan families reunite and expect a better year ahead. [Source: chinaculture.org, Chinadaily.com.cn, Ministry of Culture, P.R.China]
The festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees of the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers' festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies that were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later, when the rudiments of the science of astrology — based on the five elements — were introduced in Tibet, this farmer's festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year's festival.
Losar and the first Tibetan lunar month have many political associations. Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “The month of March is a delicate time in China-Tibet relations. The Dalai Lama fled to India in March 1959, after the Chinese Army quashed a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, during the initial Chinese occupation there. There has been a history of Tibetans protesting Chinese rule on the anniversaries of the Dalai Lama’s flight, and one such protest by monks in 2008 in Lhasa, and the suppression of it by security forces, led to the widespread uprising that enveloped much of the Tibetan plateau that spring. Since then, the Chinese government has increased the presence of security forces across the plateau each March and has barred foreigners from traveling to many areas there during that month.”
Losar feasts include a substantial amount of "Dresi," a sweet buttered rice dish with raisins; "Droma", which is rice boiled with small potatoes, various meats, fruits, breads, chang (Tibetan beer), butter tea, among other foods. "Kapse," a fried sweet that comes in different shapes and forms, are a must. Tibetans are supposed to see in the New Year with these sweets piled high on their trays. Kapse dough is made with flour, water, sugar, butter, and red coloring. It is cut into pieces twisted into the shape of lotus flowers. These are fried until light yellow when the red color is inside combines with the light color outside.”
From the beginning of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar, Tibetans begin to prepare special delicacies for the Tibetan New Year. Drosu chemar, meaning “cereals container”, is a must for Tibetan New Year. In this container foods such as tsampa with the yak butter and roasted wheat seeds are placed. Specially made offerings are presented at family shrines; doors are painted with religious symbols; residences are cleaned and milk curd is mixed with barley flour to make curd-pastries. Traditional homemade Losar bread is sold on street corners. While they look like loaves of bread, these deep-fried cookies are eaten as sweets and served at Tibetan celebrations.
On New Year's Eve, Tibetan families eat "Guthuk," a soup with dumplings. It is made of nine different ingredients, including dried cheese and various grains. Dough balls are also given out with various ingredients hidden in them such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal. The ingredients one finds hidden in one's dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one's character. If one finds chilies in the dough, it means that one has a glib tongue; salt is a good sign and means that one is all right; wool means one is kind and patient; a white stone foretells a long life; and coal means one has a "black heart".
The Gongpo in eastern Tibet eat cheese-like gyeta, which is highly valued as it is made from a big pot of yak milk but yields only a small piece of gyeta. In the past, locals only enjoyed the delicacy at New Year. According to the China Daily: It's interesting how the gyeta is eaten. The hostess put a thin wooden stick through the hard cheese and showed me how to roast it over the fire. As the exterior melted, I could lick it and savor the mellow taste. It was the first time I had learned that cheese could be eaten this way. [Source: China Daily February 1, 2009]
Preparation for New Year begins a month in advance, when a special kind of barley is planted in little flower pots so that by the time New Year rolls around three-inch-high seedlings can be offered to Buddha. On New Year's Eve, a sorcerers dance is held to keep away nasty evil spirits; people put on new clothes and don grotesque masks; and boys go wild singing and dancing to music made by large drums and conch horns.
Tibetans start to prepare for the New Year in the twelfth Tibetan lunar month. Every household cultivates seedlings of highland barley, and presents them on a tea table before the niche for statues of Buddhas to wish a good harvest of grain in the coming New Year. In the middle ten days of the twelfth Tibetan lunar month, every household deep-fries puffed fritters made of butter and wheat flour. When the end of the year is coming, they prepare a food crops case which is filled with such food as Zanba, fried wheat grains and wild "gensing". Spikes of highland barley and two color flowery boards are inserted in it. They also prepare a color sheep head carved by butter. All these contain the meaning of celebrating the good harvest, and wishing good weather for the crops and flourishing of population and domestic animals. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, kepu.net.cn]
Before Losar, Tibetans have many things to do: preparing traditional foods, decorating the streets and their own houses. They change old Tibetan mat and put up new New Year pictures. The last two days of the old year, called Gutor, people begin to prepare in earnest for the new year. People do serious house cleaning. The kitchen in particular is thoroughly cleaned because it is where the family prepares food and is considered the most important part of a house. Special new year dishes are prepared. One of the dishes is a soup served with small dumplings. The soup is made from meat, rice, sweet potatoes, wheat, yak cheese, peas, green peppers, vermicelli and radishes. On the second day of Gutar, religious ceremonies are performed. People visit the monastery to worship and donate money and gifts to the monks. Tibetans also set off firecrackers to get rid of evil spirits which is lurking around. [Source: Chloe Xin, Tibetravel.org]
In Lhasa, from the middle of the l2th Tibetan month, every family begins to fry a kind of doughnut made of butter and flour called 'karsai' in various shapes. They also prepare offerings for the deities, such as tsampa, barley grains, horse-beans, wild ginseng, barley ears, cockscomb flowers and the Sun & Moon tablets, all being placed in a multi-colored wooden container called Qemar.
On the 23rd day of the 12th month, preparations take on more urgency. Men purchase clothes, sugar, barley beer, rice, flour, and tea. Women make tsamba, butter, cakes, and fry foods, while wearing their hair in plaited braids. On the 28th or 29th day, households clean the family shrine and furniture, and even whitewash their courtyard walls. They also make auspicious markings with tsampa flour on the central wall of the cleaned kitchen, or on the floor in front of the gate. On the 29th or 30th, herdsman will use flour to paint the "eight auspicious emblems" and use plasters to draw signs for good luck. Monasteries spread foods for the hungry ghosts and chase away demons. [Source: chinaculture.org, Chinadaily.com.cn, Ministry of Culture, P.R.China]
Guthuk: Tibetan New Year’s Eve
Guthuk (Gutok of Gutu) is held right before Tibetan New Year, usually in February, on the 29th day of the 12th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. In English Gutok means “banishing the evil spirits festival”. The grand sorcerer’s dance is held in the Potala palace Monastery and similar activities are held in other places too. Monks with masks imitate demons and spirits, and walk around Jokhang temple. People sing, dance, light firecrackers and shout to bid farewell to the outgoing year and to welcome the coming New Year. In the evening, each family eats “Thuk pa” together. People light lamps, burn joss-sticks and set off more firecrackers. The atmosphere is bright and it is very lively. "Gu" means “nine” (for 29), and "thuk" means “Tuba”.
“Guthuk” is usually celebrated with a special dinner featuring a traditional Tibetan soup. Family members are seated according to their seniority. For dinner people usually eat congee of barley accompanied by special ritual. In one version of the ritual nine large dumplings—each of which contains a different item: a sugar cube, raw bean, a small piece of wood, wool string, piece of charcoal, folded paper, pebble, hot chili peppers, or cotton ball—are placed in the soup. The items predict the diners' New Year's fortune. Some symbolize luck and some symbolize different personalities. The dumplings are not eaten but discarded after their contents are revealed. When eating Guthuk Tibetan families discuss what they are eating and their luck for the New Year it is. [Source: Chloe Xin, Tibetravel.org]
After having Guthuk, families hold a ceremony to dispel ghost. People light firecrackers and torches made of straw, and yell “come out, come out” while running out of their houses to an intersection. They throw the torch and remained Guthuk at the intersection of their village so that all the devils in their house are dispelled and good fortune comes in the coming new year. At midnight, when everybody is already in bed, Qingke wine mixed with brown sugar is served with cheese to usher in the new year with sweet dreams.
Gutu: Tibetan New Year’s Eve Dinner
On this New Year’s eve—in some places on New Year’s Day— people prepare a very special dinner called "Gutu." The main food usually is barley soup made with nine foodstuffs that0 include barley flakes, peas, dough ball soup and radishes. To add some festivity to this scene, people choose symbolic items and stuff them into wheat paste balls. Some symbolize luck while others symbolize different personalities. The stuffed paste balls and dough balls are cooked together in a ceramic pot into a delicious soup. Before they eat the Gutu soup, everybody rubs some parts of his or her body with a wet paste ball uttering phrases such as "Ah, the sufferings, pains, and diseases all go away from me." Then they put the paste ball into the pot.[Source: Chinatravel.com chinatravel.com \=/]
During the gut supper family members sit around the table, and eat the Gutu dumpling. The hostess distributes the soup for everyone with a cooking spoon and people check the dumplings in which usually small pebbles, wool (or something white), charcoal, or hot chilies—each with different meanings—have been placed. The ingredients that one finds hidden in one's dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one's character. For example, if a person finds chilies in his dough, that means he is talkative or sharp-tongued. If white-colored ingredients such as salt or rice are hidden in the dough, it is regarded as a good sign. If someone finds coal in his dough, it has the same meaning as finding coal in the Christmas stocking; it means that one has a "black heart". If someone gets the dough wrapped with stone, it means he has a hard heart. Wool stands for soft heart. During eating, people laugh over who gets what in their dumplings. [Source: Chloe Xin, Tibetravel.org]
There are some variations of the above ritual. According to Chinatravel.com: When someone finds a food item which looks like the sun, moon, books, or statues in their bowls, everyone stops eating and raises their cups to toast the finder’s good luck and happiness. When someone has paste balls stuffed with sheep’s hair, stones, or dairy products in their bowls, people say that he should be as gentle as the sheep hair, as strong-willed as the stone, and as pure as milk. When someone has paste balls stuffed with salt, pepper, a porcelain piece, or charcoal, people say that he should not be lazy, unforgiving, nor cruel, and request him to sing a song as punishment. When a young girl has a paste ball stuffed with something resembling a naughty child, people laugh loudly and advise her to keep her purity. If someone is unlucky enough to have their paste ball stuffed with a thorny fruit called Simare, people tell him to get along well with others and he has to drink wine and imitate a barking dog as punishment. In the end, everyone pours their leftovers of the Gutu soup into a broken cooking pot and wish their bad luck away by saying: "take all the bad luck away and never return.” \=/
Tibetan New Year’s Eve Ghost-Expelling Ritual
After the Gutu dinner wards people go out to take part in a ceremony called the Festival of Banishing Evil Spirits of the Ghost-Expelling Ritual. People carrying big bowls of ghost-food are followed by large numbers of people holding torches and yelling at evil spirits to leave their houses. In some places, torches are lit and people run around with a doll representing a fierce god, setting off bundles of straw and hand-held fire crackers, yelling as they throw rubbish on the streets to get rid of evil spirits from their houses. The parade arrive at a big campfire, where the bowls carrying ghost food are smashed and thrown into the fire.
The ritual of expelling ghosts is performed differently in different places. Generally, a man will light a torch, carry it to every room, and shout "get out, get out." Finally he throws the torch away on a crossroad nearby. In some locations, it is quite complicated and performed after the special Gutu dinner. One man carrying the broken pot with ghosts in it precedes others who hold torches high and shout, "get out, get out, ghost."[Source: Chinatravel.com]
The procession of people march towards a crossroad and the man leaves the broken pot there. Then they march back towards home and sing the praises for the gate:
Gate is a golden gate.
White cloth is cloud.
Stone threshold looks beautiful.
Wooden gate looks bright.
Auspicious gate faces east.
Sunshine and moonlight fall in,
With fortune and happiness.
Fortune and happiness fill the house,
Driving the ghosts away,
Driving the bad luck away.
Clean and clear we come back.
Open the golden gate. \=/
After this, the gate is opened. A bonfire is lit near the doorsill in the sitting room. Everyone then jumps over a fire. Then, someone in the room will splash water over everyone who has just finished jumping. After these special activities, the ritual of expelling ghosts comes to an end. \=/
Three Days of Losar
On the first day of the new year, women dress in colorful pulus and go to a well and bring back "auspicious water" (river water before the disappearing of stars) for the family to wash with and the animals to drink. This ritual betokens good weather for the coming year. On the second day people visit each other and greet each other with "Happy New Year" greetings. Closer friends exchange hadas, white silk strips that express respect. During this time and boys and girls like to do a special dance with the boys hoisting the girls up onto their shoulders.
On New Year's Day, Tibetans are supposed to offer ornaments called "Chemar" and chang beer to their households' deity and to the water dragon that takes care of their water supply. The chang served is strong enough to cause drunkenness. People visit their neighborhoods and exchange their Tashi Delek blessings in the first two days. Feasting is the theme during the session. They visit each other's feasts and have parties full of drinking and singing. The men don't miss an opportunity to enjoy gambling, with games of "Sho' (dice) and "Pakchen' (mah-jong).
On the second day, people visit friends and relatives. At the night, Tibetans twirl burning torches in their homes to drive away evil spirits. Children also have a good time enjoying New Year's gifts of candies. The third day of the Tibetan New Year is for visiting local monasteries, where Tibetans make offerings. On the third day, old prayer flags will be replaced with new ones. Other folk activities may be held in some areas to celebrate the events.
Starting on the third day of Losar , people visit friends and relatives. Banquets are be arranged. People salute each other with "Happy New year," "Tashi Delek." This is the festival time, which lasts five days. There will be art performances as opera, Gouzhang roundelay, singing contests, sport events such as tug-of-war, rope skipping, the broad jump, the high jump, horse races, archery, wrestling, and Tibetan card games.
Tibetans get up every early on the New Year's Day, take a bath, dress in new clothes, and make some offerings on the household shrines to start the family praying ceremony. The offerings include images of animals and demons made from a kind of dough called Torma. In the ceremony everyone is seated according to age, and the most senior person carries the food crops case. Everyone takes several grains from the case and tosses them to the air. Then everyone takes a little grain and puts it into their mouth.
Seniors toss a little bit of tsamba to the sky to salute Buddha and the bodhisattva and wish everybody "Zhaxidele" (good luck) and bless the young ones with "Tashi Delek" (good luck and all wishes fulfilled). In turn, and the younger generations wish them "Zhaxidelepengsongcuo" (good luck and complete beneficence) in return. After the rite is finished, family members eat oatmeal Tuba and wild "ginseng" mixed with butter, and propose toasts to one another with blessings. Later, young people wear chubas and pay their first visit of the year to a temple with their family early in the morning, and pray for a healthy and fortunate life. "Hopefully, we will gather together next year to enjoy again," they say.
During the day, the family members gather together for a reunion dinner and give gifts to each other. The dinner usually consists of cake called Kapse and an alcoholic drink called chang, a kind of barely beer that is often freshly made that day. According to Tibetan customs, people are not allowed to sweep the floor at the first day of the Tibetan lunar New Year; they can't say any unlucky words, and they can't pay visits to other houses. Relatives and good friends begin to pay New Year calls to one another from the second day of Tibetan New Year. ~
Tibetan New Year Religious Practices
Losar is a festive and sacred three-day celebration in which Tibetans engage in rites to purify and renew the spirit and pay tribute to the Buddhist ideals of wisdom and compassion. Positive and negative actions taken during the holiday are believed to influence events in the coming year. At some temples in Qinghai Province authorities allow people to carry out complex ceremonies wearing ornate, embroidered costumes and unfurl a giant image of Buddha on a hillside.
During Losar people hold ancient ceremonies which represent the struggle between good and evil. Lamas chant and pass fire torches through the crowds. People perform the dance of the deer and reenact battles between the king and his ministers, and people cheer the coming of new year by dancing, singing, and merrymaking.Monks in costumes attend a religious ceremony, known as "Da Gui" or "beating ghost", at monasteries to expel evil spirits from the monastery.
Some lamas go caves and mediate the entire 14 day period from the new moon of the New Year until the full moon. The caves are sometimes above cliffs at an elevation of 16,000 feet and can be reached only following dizzying trails and climbing ladders and yak-hair ropes. Pilgrims often crawl underneath stacks of sacred texts in an effort to absorb the wisdom of the scriptures without reading them. Pilgrims ascend ridges and peaks to string prayer flags and tend fires made with fragrant herbs.
During the first 15 days of the New Year many Tibetan families commission monks and nuns to recite sacred texts to bring prosperity to their households. During the same period, in monasteries, lamas chant ancient Buddhist invocations from 10:00am to 10:00pm. In Lhasa, pilgrims throw incense into an offering burner in front of the Jokhang, Tibet's most sacred temple. Pilgrims prostrate themselves after every two steps as they follow a prescribed circle around the old city.
On the 15th day of the first moon, all major monasteries hold religious rites and all families light up butter lamps when night falls. It is also the occasion for lamas in the Ta'er (Ghumbum) monastery in Qinghai and the Jokhang monastery in Lhasa to display their exquisite and beautifully decorated butter carvings.
Tibetan welcoming group
Tibetan New Year Dances
During the New Year dance, monks dress as sorcerers in black hats and fancy robes and dance and make offerings to get rid of negative forces like greed, aggression and ignorance. The dance climaxes with an exorcism — the stabbing of a dough effigy of a demon, representing the dispelling of negativity from the last year. Between the dances dramatic skits are performed, often by lay people.
The performances are held in the courtyard of temples and the temple itself serves as a dressing room. Musicians and monks chant and play horns, drums, cymbals and conch shells as the dancers circle the courtyard and perform stamps, steps and hops known as “half-thunderbolt” movements that are expected to be performed smoothly and gracefully . The dancers prepare for the dance by spiritually identifying with the deity they portray. As they dance they must execute the correct movements, recite mantras and focus their thoughts on the deity.
Ian Baker wrote in National Geographic, "black-hatted monks spun on the soles of their yak-hide boots...As cymbals clashed and horns droned, the masked dancers danced to dispel the accumulated negativity of the past 12 months. Pressed against the walls of the courtyard pilgrims in fur-lined robes and richly-colored brocades witnessed this turbulent drama...As the sun disappeared behind a rock ridge, the ceremony concluded with a burning of a menacing effigy, freeing the days ahead from bondage to the past."
See Festival Dances, Music and Dance, Tibetan Culture
Tibetan New Year Qiema Boxes
Tibetan people have the custom of making a "Qiema" box (“Five-Cereal Container”, richly-carved colorful wooden box) ) during Tibetan New Year, expressing the wish of good harvest, good luck and a better life in the coming year. Qiema boxes are made of wood and filled with colorful barley kernels, butter sculptures and tsampa (a type of bread mixed with ghee). [Source: Chloe Xin, Tibetravel.org]
To make a Qiema box, one put into each side of a two-tier rectangular wooden box: barley kernels and tsampa, with Qingke spikes and butter sculptures (beautiful molded flowers covered in ghee). In the middle, colorful flowers and highland barley spikes are stuck as decorations. The Qiema box with many carvings is also painted beautifully using colored ghee, usually featuring figures which represent longevity and harmony. Barley kernels are a token of good luck; and tsampa symbolizes health and a bountiful harvests for the new year.
When Tibetan New Year is approaching, households are busy making Qiema boxes. Some people purchase them at markets. During New Year, a Qiema box is placed on a Tibetan cabinet in each Tibetan family house. When a guest comes to the Qiema he pick up several ears of wheat and some tsampa, and throws them in the air three times to worship God, before sampling some of the tsampa. The Qiema box is not only a kind of offerings, it is also a kind of gift in Tibet. During Tibetan New Year, Tibetan people exchange Qiema boxes with friends and neighbors, expressing the best wishes.
Tibetan New Year Prayer Flag Trees and Valences
Tibetan people use colorful valances (short pieces of cloth) to decorate the doors and windows of their houses. The colorful valances dance with wind and make the building more attractive. Replacing valances is a on Tibetan New Year’s Eve custom. On Tibetan New Year eve, Tibetans clean up their houses, change door and window valances, set up brand-new prayer flags on the roof and paint patterns symbolizing eternity and good luck on the gates with lime. Replacing window and door valances implies good luck. If a family does not replace the valance, it means the family is confronting with misfortune. Before Tibetan New Year you can find many vendors selling valances. Piles of colorful valances can be seen on the floor. [Source: Chloe Xin, Tibetravel.org]
With the approach of the Tibetan New Year, prayer flag trees become one of the best sellers in markets. Usually, we can see colorful prayer flags everywhere in Tibet, but during Tibetan New Year, prayer flag trees replace the prayer flags on hilltops. For Tibetan families, the prayer flags in five colors are believed to bring peace, compassion, wisdom, and strength. Sewing the multicolored prayer flags onto tree branches makes a prayer flag tree. Tibetans pray for good harvests and good luck in the coming year by sticking the new prayer flag trees onto the roofs to replace the old ones as the Tibetan New Year comes every year.
A good day after New year’s Day is carefully selected to replace prayer flag trees. On that day, all family members dress in their best clothes up and prepare some festival food and offerings, then climb up to the top of their house to replace the prayer flag tree. The colors of the prayer flags must be arranged in sequence of blue, white, red, green and yellow from the top down because different colors stands for different things, the blue for sky, white for clouds, red for flame, green for water and yellow for soil.
Image Sources: Purdue University, China National Tourist Office, Nolls China website http://www.paulnoll.com/China/index.html , Johomap, Tibetan Government in Exile
Text Sources: 1) “Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia/ China”, edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K.Hall & Company, 1994); 2) Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn ~; 3) Ethnic China ethnic-china.com *\; 4) Chinatravel.com \=/; 5) China.org, the Chinese government news site china.org | New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Chinese government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated September 2022