The peaceful ancient land of Tibet, popularly known as the “Roof of the World” was until 1950 a free sovereign country with its own government, culture, language, religion and traditions very distinct from Tibet’s neighbouring countries like China, Mongolia, India, Nepal to name the closest.
Due to the sheer extreme remoteness of the country’s location, geographically and ecologically, Tibet voluntarily remained isolated from the rest of the world for centuries and did not participate in any international affairs or world conferences. Thus when the Chinese Communist armies invaded Tibet in 1950, no international power came to rescue Tibet. Being a peaceful religious country by nature and also due to the young age of the ruler His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet was easily captured in 1959. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee to India to seek political asylum in 1959.
Since the invasion, Tibetan culture and religion have been a target of cruel and systematic destruction throughout Tibet. Tibetan material culture in Tibet was almost exclusively devoted to religion, in which the arts of building, painting and image casting were highly developed.
From the start of his refuge in India in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his foresight and wisdom at an age of only 24, took on the unique responsibilities as both Tibet’s spiritual as well as a political leader. His Holiness immediately implemented the foundation of the present Tibetan Government-in-Exile in Dharamsala, India, which has been very successful in not only governing the exiled Tibetan community to date but in preserving and promoting the endangered Tibetan culture and traditions as far as possible outside of Tibet.
With this objective, Tibetan schools, handicrafts centres as well as art training institutions for the young Tibetans were established, enabling them to learn their language, heritage and traditional art. Due to these efforts and the support of many friends of Tibet in several countries has helped the culture to survive to some degree and we fervently hope that it will continue to survive in the future with even more support.