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Old Ferryboats in Tibet

Time: 06-09-2018 This Article is Composed by BudgetTibetTour

According to Tibetan historical documents, as early as the Tubo period, sailing activities were recorded on the Yarlung Zangpo River and Lhasa River. According to Biography of Padmasambhava, he once crossed the Yarlung Zangpo by wooden boat with a horse's head to reach Samye Monastery; murals in the Samye Monastery, Potala Palace and Borbu Lingka record this.  

Old Ferryboats in Tibet

Boat with Horse's Head

Early Wooden Boat with Horse's Head. According to the illustrations in Tibet's Civilization written by Prof. R. A. Stein, this might be the earliest Tibetan wooden boat containg about 20 people.

Mid-period Wooden Boat with Horse's Head. According to murals in Samye Monastey, wooden boats with a horse's head emerged during the Tubo period able to carry about 30 people. This was much more advanced than early square wooden boats in sailing that had such disadvantages as low speed and inflexibility due to the large resistance from the square structure.

Late Wooden Boat with Horse's Head. There is no clue about the profile of later wooden boats in the murals, but it is presumed they emerged after the decline of the Tubo Kingdom.

Early Wooden Boat with Horse's Head
Foursquare wooden boats with horse's head as a symbol; there were iron-sheet decorative designs inlaid on the outer sides; there was a door on the left side towards the rear; paddles were fitted on both sides, and there was a wind-horse flag pole inserted on the back of the horse head.  

Old Ferryboats in Tibet

Mid-Period Wooden Boat with Horse's Head
There were iron-sheet decorative designs inlaid on the outer sides and an exit door on the left side of the front-half of the boat; the bow had a wooden-sculptured horse's head with wind-horse flags inserted on the back part; two paddles were fitted on both sides of the front-half of the boat, but no boatman steering the boat was seen at the stern according to the murals.

Late Wooden Boat with Horse's Head
The boat body was square, the bow was changed into the shape of triangle, the bottom of bow of bow was rounded, which greatly reduced the resistance from the water and improved speed and flexibility. The horse's head and wind-horse flags as decorations on how were still there. One paddle was fitted on each side of front-half of the bow, and it required 4 to 5 people to paddle powerfully; there was a big paddle on the stern for steering, and one door on each side of the middle part. There were iron-sheet decorative designs with reinforced wooden boats on the outer sides and four corners of the boat body.

At the end of the 1960s, this sort of boat was still available at the Nyanggu Ferry at Zetang Township of Shannan district in the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River. With the opening of the Sichuan-Tibet and the Qinghai-Tibet highways, and the old wooden boats were replaced by wooden power boats. But boats with horse's heads retain their charm.

An old boatman aged over 70, living in the village by Nyanggu Ferry, Zetang, Shannan, told me that this sort of boat was about 10 meters long and five meters wide, containing about 200 people or 70 to 80 yaks. With the help of the old man, we copied a model of the boat one-tenth size, which is presented in the Hall of Folklore of the Tibet Museum. 

Old Ferryboats in Tibet

Today, the boats are square power wooden boats with a round bottom, but small boats with men padding away can still ocassionally be seen at every ferry of the Yarlung Zangbo River and the Lhasa River.

However, since 1959, with many rivers being spanned by bridges, the ferries gradually disappeared.

Yak Hide Rafts
The materials for making yak hide rafts are very simple, mainly timber and yak hide. Timber with good tenacity should be selected to make the frame. Four pieces of yak hide softened in water and with almost all the hair removed, and sewn together. The wet yak hide is then stretched tight over the wooden frame and tied with yak hide rope; it is left to dry in the sun, after which great deal of yak and goat grease is applied to the hide to make it waterproof. The raft can then be launched with a pair of paddles operated by one boatman.

Other Travelers' Questions

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

user portrait Mr. Mi*** from: Mount Kailash Tour from Kathmandu, Nepal

I want to do tour from Kathmondu, coming from USA. what do you recommand in August 2019? Thanks.

Answered by Nancy

Dear Mr. Mi***, 

Greetings from Nancy at Budget Tibet tour, and I am glad to be at your service. Please kindly let me know your nationality firstly since your tour will be involved with Kailash. If you will enter Tibet from Kathmandu, you must leave 3 working days in Kathmandu for you to apply your China visa there, and also if you would like to visit Kailash for sure, I recommend you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa to join in a group tour as almost all the group tour start from Lhasa. I recommend you to fly to China from USA then go to Kathmandu after the tour as we can drop off you at the border so you can go Kathmandu by overland. Anyway I will send you more details by email. Best regards. 


Email to Nancy about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

user portrait Mr. Ge*** from: 1 Day Lhasa World Heritages Tour

Dear we are a couple planning to travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa on march 2020 by flight.
We eould like to know the price for the 1 day Lhasa tour
Can we stay 2 additional days without tour-guide ? what about the price of tibet visa??


regards!

Ge***

Answered by Helen

Dear Mr. Ge***,

Thanks very much for your enquiry. Please kindly note that the Tibet will closed to foreign tourists in March every year, I was wondering whether you could adjust your travel time or not. Sure, we can arrange 1 day Lhasa private tour for you, the quotation is based on your travel time. Please check your email for more details. Warm regards,


Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

user portrait Mr. Ma*** from: 18 days Tibet Mount Kailash & Guge Kingdom Expedition

Hello there

I am favouring with one of your tours including the pilgrimage around mount kailash.
What is the level of fitness required ?
I am female, 54 years old and I gues medium fit. I dont do too much sports but regularly hiking.
The timeframe for me would be mid May until Mid june.

Thanks

Ma***

Answered by Nancy

Dear Ma***, 

Greetings from Nancy at Budget Tibet tour, and I am glad to be at your service. As we do not have group to Guge, but we do have 15days Lhasa to Kailash trekking pilgrim tour on 15th May and 10th June, both dates are available for you to join in. 10th June group tour will come cross the Saga Dawa festival in Kailash on 17th June, so if you can make it that would be great. Your age is quite young, please worry free, and most of our clients were your same age, some are more than 70 years old even did the tour quite well, and 3days pilgrim tour would be no problem. You will leave most of your luggage in hotel, and carry the necessary stuff, and also there are some tea house there providing hot water, simple food and basic shelter for sleeping, but of course please do not expect too high about it. And we will do the outer circle for the pilgrim trekking which will be 54km in total. I will send you more details to your email please check it there. Best regards.  


Email to Nancy about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

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