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12:59 Oct 08 2012

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Unraveling the mystery of Tibetan calendar
11:21, October 08, 2012  

The first "book" Tsering Dondrup read as a child was a Tibetan calendar his parents used to consult for weather information and ideal dates for ploughing and harvesting.

"We had a new booklet every year. The colors of the covers varied, but there was always a delicate painting of cattle ploughing the fields in early spring," remembers Tsering Dondrup, a Lhasa resident whose hair has now turned gray.

As he aged, he learned that years in the Tibetan calendar were identified with different colors including white, black, green, yellow and red. "Yellow stands for the year of the earth, while blue, green and red stand for water, wood and fire respectively," he says.

The year 2012, for example, is the "Year of the Water Dragon," so the corresponding calendar has a blue cover.

But the cattle ploughing scenes hold much greater significance than that, he says of the calendars, which bear a fascinating history and continuing practical application that is often overlooked among more prominent elements of Chinese culture.

"The colors and postures of the cattle's head, horns, mouth, hooves and tail tell the weather conditions of different periods of the year and help farmers decide the time for ploughing and harvest," Tsering Dondrup explains.

Source: Tibet.cn

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(Editor:姚春、叶欣)

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Photo taken on Oct. 1, 2012 shows flowers near Gyangze County, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. [Photo/Xinhua]Photo taken on Oct. 1, 2012 shows flowers near Gyangze County, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. [Photo/Xinhua]
A prayer of the Tibetan ethnic group walks beside the prayer corridor in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, northwest China's Qinghai Province, Oct. 2, 2012. With a history of over 300 years, the Xinzhai Mani Stone Stack is the largest Mani stone stack around the globe. Destroyed in an earthquake in 2010, the stack, together with broken scripture halls and pagodas, got repaired and are expected to be mended well before November. Mani Stones are stone plates, rocks and pebbles, inscribed with six syllabled mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum", as a form of prayer in Tibetan Buddhism. (Xinhua/Wu Gang) A prayer of the Tibetan ethnic group walks beside the prayer corridor in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, northwest China's Qinghai Province, Oct. 2, 2012. With a history of over 300 years, the Xinzhai Mani Stone Stack is the largest Mani stone stack around the globe. Destroyed in an earthquake in 2010, the stack, together with broken scripture halls and pagodas, got repaired and are expected to be mended well before November. Mani Stones are stone plates, rocks and pebbles, inscribed with six syllabled mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum", as a form of prayer in Tibetan Buddhism. (Xinhua/Wu Gang)
Three yaks graze on a pasture near the plateau lake Puma Yumco in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 25, 2012. (Xinhua/Wen Tao)Three yaks graze on a pasture near the plateau lake Puma Yumco in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 25, 2012. (Xinhua/Wen Tao)
A dated photo shows Tibetan women playing the push-and-pull game. (Photo/China Tibet Online) A dated photo shows Tibetan women playing the push-and-pull game. (Photo/China Tibet Online)
Photo taken on Sept. 25, 2012 shows the scenery of Lake Yamzho Yumco in Nagarze County, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Yamzho Yumco, Nam Co and Mapam Yumco are considered as the three sacred lakes in Tibet. (Xinhua/Wen Tao)Photo taken on Sept. 25, 2012 shows the scenery of Lake Yamzho Yumco in Nagarze County, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Yamzho Yumco, Nam Co and Mapam Yumco are considered as the three sacred lakes in Tibet. (Xinhua/Wen Tao)
Chinese motorcycle tour pals in black uniforms rest at the foot of a holy mountain in Tibet Autonomous Region, southwestern China. Self-driving to Tibet seems to have become a new fashion with tourists driving hundreds of cars, motrocycles, bicycles each day on the highways leading to Tibet. (Photo/China Tibet Online)Chinese motorcycle tour pals in black uniforms rest at the foot of a holy mountain in Tibet Autonomous Region, southwestern China. Self-driving to Tibet seems to have become a new fashion with tourists driving hundreds of cars, motrocycles, bicycles each day on the highways leading to Tibet. (Photo/China Tibet Online)
A chef cuts the lamp during the wedding ceremony in Lhasa, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 15, 2012. Nowadays, wedding ceremonies in Lhasa are combined with traditional Tibetan customs and modern living concepts. Some customs are kept, such as offering hada and throwing the powder of Tsampa while some modern concepts are adopted, like non-mandatory Tibetan dresses for guests. (Xinhua/Chogo) 
A chef cuts the lamp during the wedding ceremony in Lhasa, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 15, 2012. Nowadays, wedding ceremonies in Lhasa are combined with traditional Tibetan customs and modern living concepts. Some customs are kept, such as offering hada and throwing the powder of Tsampa while some modern concepts are adopted, like non-mandatory Tibetan dresses for guests. (Xinhua/Chogo)
Artists from a folk art troupe in Lhoka Prefecture performed at the Dragon King Pool Park in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 23, 2012. Over 200 folk artists will put on 10 performances during the week before the National Day on Oct. 1 and the upcoming 18th Party Congress of China. (Photo/Xinhua)Artists from a folk art troupe in Lhoka Prefecture performed at the Dragon King Pool Park in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 23, 2012. Over 200 folk artists will put on 10 performances during the week before the National Day on Oct. 1 and the upcoming 18th Party Congress of China. (Photo/Xinhua)
Nyima County bathed in sunshine.(Photo/CRI)Nyima County bathed in sunshine.(Photo/CRI)
Dadun Festival (People's Daily Online/ Cheng Xi)Dadun Festival (People's Daily Online/ Cheng Xi)
http://chinatibet.people.com.cn/7968994.pdf