It is with great pleasure every year that I work on ICT’s Annual Wall Calendar and this 2014 calendar is turning out to be a favorite with many of our friends and supporters. ICT began printing wall calendars almost nineteen years ago, mainly to give to people who helped Tibetans and helped move the issue of Tibet forward. Later, with the help of our partners Amber Lotus, we were able to expand the calendar production, and today, we print and make it available for purchase for everyone. The calendar brings a little bit of Tibet into your daily life and we hope, serves as a reminder, month by month, of our appreciation for your support for Tibet and Tibetans.
Our 2014 calendar is called “The Tibetans” and it features a series of portraits of Tibetans wearing some extraordinary hats found on the Tibetan plateau. Many of you will know of Tibetans’ great affinity and love of hats and you’ll be amazed by the sheer number and variety of hats that we have.
Sadly, having spent my entire life in exile, and never having travelled to Tibet, I am only familiar with some of the more common hats of the three provinces of Tibet. Growing up in exile, these were, for the most part, only worn during traditional Tibetan dance performances or in exhibition displays of Tibetan culture. In exile, we had neither the means nor the materials for making many of these traditional hats. In our everyday life as well as in our clothing, we had to make changes, so our Tibetan dresses were made of the light local Indian cotton that was readily available and probably a better choice for warm Indian climate and we didn’t wear hats. At the same time, inside Tibet also, Tibetans underwent a period during the 1960s and 1970s when everyone only wore Mao hats and suits.
Later, a gradual revival of culture started taking root in the 1980s and 1990s – both inside Tibet and in exile. This is when Tibetan traditional outfits started becoming more popular and coveted. It was a time when Tibetan songs, art and writings also started becoming popular and gained recognition by the general Tibetan population. Today, there is a heightened sense of pride and shared appreciation of Tibetan identity and culture spanning across the Tibetan plateau. Even then, it is not easy to acquire many of the traditional Tibetan hats and outfits that we see or know of – in some cases, the skills are no longer there or vanishing and in other cases, the change in lifestyle forced upon Tibetans by so called “development” policies by the Chinese are leaving Tibetans marginalized and disconnected from their traditions. And in some instances, the materials are no longer available or being replaced by cheap factory made ones.
In this 2014 calendar, we have provided some background information on each of the hats highlighted in the calendar, and shared some information on the situation for the Tibetans in Tibet today. You can view and purchase our calendar here. They make great gifts.
For those of you who already have our calendar, here’s a fun little Quiz – you’ll have to open up your new calendar to find the correct answers. Three people who answer all the questions correctly will be eligible to receive a free ICT cotton tote bag. Please post your answers on the comment section of this blog – we will contact the winners by email in the first week of January.
- September features a young man wearing a cowboy style hat – what do Tibetans call these types of hats?
- March features a woman wearing a fur-lined winter hat called Wa-sha – what is she holding in her hand?
- May features a young nomad girl – what is she riding?
Finally, I have to thank all the photographers and friends who have graciously and most generously permitted us to use their photos in this 2014 calendar – Matteo Pistono, Neil Wade, Boris Kester, Alison Wright, Tenzing Paljor, Sonam Zoksang, and Vincent van den Berg.