Tibetan Qingke Wine and Toast Song
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Lamasim bans drinking.And Tibetan tsampo kings had attempted to prohibit their people from drinking.Howerver,drinking continues through the ages and emerges as part of the Tibetan cultrue.
Gyaca in Tibet is noted for making toasts with drinks,a practice steeped in history and folklore.One toast song goes:
Make a choice from one of the two.
Princess Wencheng,please listen.
Lhunbo Gawa,please drink.
Princess Wencheng of China’s Tang Dynasty(618-907) was married to Tubo King Songtsan Gambo.Lhunbo Gawa refers to Gar Tongtsan who was sent to greeet Princess Wencheng as she entered Tubo.
Princess Wencheng traveled to Tubo with artisans,porcelain bowls and people who specialized in making wine.Histrians,howerver,say that wine may have appeared in Tubo prior to Princess Wencheng’s arrival.
Songtsan Gambo once asked Gar Tongtsan to work out a basic law,but the latter failed.Gar Tongtsan sent four people to look for some one who could lend him a helping hand.When they came across a boy who was said to be very clever,they asked him about the whereabouts of his parents.
“Father went to look for language,and mother for eyes,”the boy answered.
The four failed to comprehend him.Before long,his parents returned holding a pot of wine in the father’s hand and a lamp inthe mother’s hand.It dawned on the four that wine is the source of language and the lamp provides light for the eyes in darkness.
“Language”and “eyes” are two words often used when referring to wine.Nowadays,drinking wine and singing toast songs have become part of the Tibetan culture.
Brewing qingke (highland barley) wine is similar to the method use in the Gentral Plains.Highland barley is rinsed and boiled,and then mixed with distiller’s yeast before being put into a container.
King Gesar,a character in a long epic using the same name,has this say: “Qingke used to brew winge resembles groups of flying wild birds,” and “steam from brewing wine is like belching smoke.”
The first brew is very often put into jars which are kept in underground cells for months or years.
QINGKE WINE CULTRUES.
Tibetans love this wine so much that,on the first day of the first Tibetan monthe,they drink qingke wine mixed with brown sugar,butter,mike dregs and powdered qingke barley as soon as they wake up.
Holidays and festivals are days for Tibetans to drink to their hearts’ content. People gather in a circle,with jars of wine and 18 dragon pattern bowls set in the center.They dance and drink.In some case,old people fill bowls with wine for th passing dancers to drink.None of the dancers can beat the system.This keeps on and on,until there are people who are on all fours.
In social intercourse,wine oftern plays a key role.Many things could not be done without wine.When people are cought in a conflct and negotiation is the necessary way for settlement,the wrong side has to produce wine as a token of apology.
While Tibetan men drink qingke wine to be masculine,Tibetan women,especially young women,are not supposed to drink according to the old saying: “Those women who drink are worse than dogs.”
In some areas,however,women do drink.When sugar and butter is added to qingke wine,it seves as a tonic for those who have just given birth.In Xigaze,mothers who want to go out feed their bodies with qingke wine to make them sleep.
In the eys of the Tibetans,”Wine is tasteless like water if no songs are sung while drinking.” The hold wine and toast songs as twin sisters.This is why they say: “Your drink mellow wine while I sing toast songs.There should be no end for you to drink and for me to sing.”
It is recorded in King Gesar that,when soldiers left for battle or returned victoriously,tea and wine were offered to heros while the others sang toast songs.
This shows singing toast songs dates back to the Tubo period.At that time ,when feasts were given,everyone prensent sang and drank to highlight the atmosphere.
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