Asia | China | Tibet | Lhasa – Hats, hats and hats
Sitting in Makya Ame, my favorite cafe in Lhasa, I watch and marvel. Based on the first floor opposite one of the corners of the Jokhang, the biggest and most important temple in Lhasa, it holds the best views of the pilgrims doing their Kora around the Jokhang. They walk around the Jokhang (or any other monastery, temple or holy place) clockwise, all the while praying, turning around their handheld prayer wheels, to improve their karma. Some of them even go around prostrating themselves the whole way around! With a leather apron over their clothes, a kind of wooden gloves and protection over their shoes, they kneel down, lie flat on their stomach, stand up again with their hands clasped in prayer and then in the air and start all over again, until they finish their round… walking around it takes you 10 to 15 minutes, so just imagine how long this takes…
The view here is so fascinating, I could sit here for hours watching these pilgrims.
My first bewildering impression was that the people look like Bolivians! Their colourful clothing with the aprons, their beige bowler hats, even their complexions and facial expressions bring back to mind my short visit to La Paz a few years ago! According to a friend, there are indeed connections from long long ago, when apparently people have crossed the Baring Sea…
The people in Lhasa are different from the people you see in the countryside: here most people wear shoes instead of the beautiful boots, and there is more variety. Men with special heardresses in black and red, people in western clothes, people in traditional clothes from all the regions of Tibet.
They are also very different from Nepal, where you have both hinduism and buddhism, where sarees are a common sight in the streets. Nobody wears them here. They wear long sleeved coats, colourful aprons, and hats, all kind of hats!
White cowboy hats, or brown/camel velvety ones with the side turned up with a cord, small ‘fishing hats’ and straw hats, typical hats in nice fabrics with borders or ‘wedding hats’ (big hats in tule with big knots on the back – I’ve even seen somebody wearing this while cleaning the toilets!), basebal caps and bowler hats in black or beige, special traditional headdresses for men: a red or black plaid of strings, braided into their hair, some of them with jewelry woven into it, turquoise, silver or coral, and folded or knotted scarfs or plaids in colourful patterns, monks with a special monk sunhat, folded out of a piece of dark red fabric, and women without hats but with coral and turquoise intricately woven into their jet black hair, woollen hats and a few people wearing nothing.
When I came across a stall selling hats, I couldn’t help myself and take a picture of it, even if it only reflects a small part of all these different headdresses!