In Xizang, there is a “celestial market”. With melodious Buddhist chanting and the waving of sutra streamers, people of all ethnic groups exchange their cultures and beliefs，and share their stories and experiences there. Why has such a short 1,000-meter street witnessed the changes of history and attracted people here?
Let’s take a deep dive into the Bar-skor Street，and take a close look at this “celestial market”.
Bar-skor Street can be traced back to the first half of the 7th century. Songtsen Gampo, the leader of Tubo kingdom, built the Jokhang Temple, with its surrounding streets gathering Buddhists marching on their pilgrimage. These roads slowly evolved into pilgrimage routes and places for business,today they’re collectively called the Bar-skor Street.
Located on the north side of the Bar-skor Street, the North Courtyard of the Street is the first Office of Amban in Xizang. Ambans are specifically mandated for the administration of Xizang by the Qing Court. His office was called “Yamen of the Ambans”. In 1751, the Qing Court put the Amban at the equal status of Dalai Lama and Panchen. Since Dalai Lama and Panchen had to go through the Amban to report to the Qing Emperor, Amban became the highest official for the governance of Xizang at that time.
In the late Qing, there was a famous Amban named Zhang Yintang. During his term in Xizang, Zhang rectified the bureaucracy, solved deep-seated problems,trained new soldiers, among other reforms, gaining positive results that were supported by Tibetans. So the locals called this flower “Zhang Daren Flower”. Thanks to the endeavor of Ambans, Xizang was always under the jurisdiction of the central government throughout the Qing Dynasty. Security there was guaranteed, social and economic order was maintained, and exchanges between Xizang and the hinterland were strengthened.
Since then, Xizang has entered into an era that was most connected with the central government. “People flocking to the Bar-skor Street are like water flowing into the Lhasa River.” This old folk proverb of Lhasa hasn’t gone out of date even to this day.
The exchanges between Xizang and the hinterland has been going on for thousands of years, so there is a term called “Tibetan-Han homology”. This means that Tibetan and Han ancestors have the same origin from the genetics perspective, while Tibetan and Chinese also belongs to the same language family, laying a solid foundation for deep interaction. Especially since the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the customs of the hinterland have had a big influence on Xizang. For example, Sichuan cuisine is popular among the Tibetan nobles; they love tea from Ya’an, Sichuan or Pu’er tea in Yunnan. Many other customs are exchanged as well.
After the peaceful liberation of Xizang,the site of the former Amban was allocated to the locals, named “North Courtyard of Bar-skor Street”. Merchants, serfs and people of all ethnic groups have all lived there. Ethnic unity is strengthened by their interaction and exchanges.
“One family would drink water from the same well.”
“One family would drink water from the same well.” This not only shows the friendly relations among the people of all ethnic groups in the North Courtyard of Bar-skor Street, but also represents the socialist ethnic relations of equality, solidarity,mutual assistance and harmony among all ethnicities in China.
The North Courtyard of Bar-skor Street will continue to witness each and every change of Lhasa in the years to come, and continue to bless the happy life of future generations.