News and Views on Tibet

Tibet Museum counters China’s narrative, says TPI research fellow

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Dr. Tenzin Lhadon, a research fellow from the Tibet Policy Institute speaking duirng the 47th International Museum Day on May 17, 2024 (Photo/CTA)

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, May 18: Dr. Tenzin Lhadon, a research fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI), a think tank under the Central Tibet Administration, emphasised the significance of the Tibet Museum during a talk titled, “Museum for Education and Research” commemorating the 47th International Museum Day on Friday. She noted that the Dharamshala Tibet Museum not only counters China’s narrative but also channels the Tibetan narrative.

In her presentation, Dr. Lhadon compared the Tibet Museum in Dharamshala with other prominent museums, such as the Rubin Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, which focus primarily on the Tibetan Buddhist religion while neglecting the broader political history of Tibet. “These museums are keeping their silence by silencing the voice and that feeds into the larger narrative of Chinese silencing of Tibetan narrative,” she said. 

She explained that many museums, particularly in China, serve as tools for propaganda. She highlighted that the Tibet Museum in Dharamshala fills these gaps by presenting a comprehensive view of Tibetan history. “The Tibet Museum in Dharamshala does not only push back the Chinese narrative but it pushes back the ‘silencing’ of the Tibetan narrative by presenting the holistic picture of our history and by presenting the difficult political history which is a part of our exile tragedy. The very fact that Tibet Museum in Dharamshala is established, run, and curated by Tibetans has a very different and special space for Tibetan and non-Tibetan visitors,” she remarked. 

Photo/The Tibet Museum

She also discussed the phenomenon known as the “China museum boom,” which began around 2007-2008 following changes in leadership and policy. According to Dr. Lhadon, the number of new museums in China surged from approximately 57 per year before 2008 to 280 per year after 2008. The total number of museums in China rose from 1,200 in 1996 to about 6,000 in 2023, attracting over 66 million visitors annually, with more than 90% offering free admission since 2008.

Dr. Lhadon also highlighted the substantial investment by the Chinese government in museum development, citing the example of the Tibet Museum in Lhasa, which underwent a $99 million renovation. “This says that a lot of emphasis is put on promoting and investing in museums. For China, a museum is not just an important educational site but serves as a multi-purpose. And one of the primary purposes is to create ‘patriotism’ within visitors, to create that legitimacy, to validate its political authority over regions like Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia,” she noted. “So clearly museums built in China are to serve the state-led initiative or objectives and use it as a tool to inculcate their idea that Tibetans or non-Chinese belong to the so-called Chinese nation and Chinese identity,” she said. 

One Response

  1. It’s great the Tibetan exiles have managed to collect items of historical importance about the brutal communist China’s invasion and illegal occupation. I have not been to the Dharamsala Tibetan museum but have seen it on internet through the myriad of utubers who are only too eager to show anything that would net any fan for their channel including slushy romance and secret rendezvous! The Chinese communists have opened grotesque museums such as the “Tibet museum in Lhasa” which is stacked with Chinese torture tools that have been imported from China and installed to malign and defame Tibetans as being “cruel and inhumane”! The highly fabricated outfit is in fact a communist propaganda tool to justify its illegal occupation of Tibet. Many Tibetans in Lhasa shun this highly exaggerated piece as a blot on Tibet and its compassionate culture rooted in Mahayana Buddhism! Its depiction of monks and monastic life which is the prime target of the anti-region and anti-Buddhist communists is just an example of the how they wantonly dehumanised the monks by installing cement figures of monks who are wrenching away a child from a mother who is still clutching her hands in the air as the child is supposed to be torn away from her!!! It is a profound insult to Buddhism and Tibetan culture where a monk is a pride of the family and the Tibetan children became monks and nuns on their volition. The Buddha forbade anyone becoming monks/nuns against their will. Before they become a monk/nun, they have to shave their head but leave a little tuft of hair on the crown of the novice. When he/she is taken to the abbot to be admitted into the monastery, they are asked questions for which only the novice can answer to check their speech. They have to prostrate to the abbot to check if the novice has any physical abnormalities. After that the novice goes to the abbot and the abbot will cut the tuft of hair that is purposely kept for the occasion. This is called hair offering ceremony སྐྲ་ཕུད་ལེན་པ་ The abbot will ask the novice སྤྲོ་ལགས་ (are you happy to become a monk/nun. Only when the novice says, སྤྲོ་ལགས་ will the abbot cuts the tuft of hair and not otherwise. This is an injunction the Buddha made to make sure no one is forced to become monks/nun against their will. If they don’t follow the edicts of the Buddha, they are not eligible to take liberation vows (སོ་སོ་ཐར་པའི་བསྡོམ་པ་).
    I applaud Dr Tenzin Lhadon’s assertion of pushing back communist Chinese lies and fabrication about Tibet and its past in order suit its evil agenda. Now, we have a reservoir of young highly educated man power in exile who are patriotic, proud of our country, its history and culture. It’s time to smash the Chinese communist fallacy of dehumanising the Tibetans buy manufacturing lies to legitimise its illegal, occupation of our country. Every Tibetan has a responsibility towards this end. It is hoped that the TIBET MUSEUM IN DHARAMSALA grows in leaps and bounds in the coming years. The photos of Chinese atrocities in occupied Tibet taken by the Tibetan writer Woser’s father are the greatest testimony to the depraved ways of evil communist China and its callousness to human life. It is the greatest killing machine human history has ever witnessed with 80 million Chinese including non-Chinese people like Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols and Manchurians under its brutal occupation!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *