Tibet Watch

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National calligraphy day marked by Tibetans

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Tibetans celebrate their native writing practices amid fears of threats to culture.

Citizens across Tibet celebrated national Tibetan calligraphy day on 30 April this year, the third time the annual event has been marked since its creation in 2017.

The day is a rare moment when monastics, students and other Tibetans gather to celebrate the Tibetan language and writing practices which Chinese authorities have worked to discourage.

Tibetans organised activities for the day including calligraphy, writing festivals, competitions, lectures, seminars and tours for people to look at Tibetan calligraphy on display.

Renowned monasteries and educational institutions participated including Kirti Monastery, Tse school, Labrang Tashi Khyil Monastery and other universities.

Calligraphers in Yushu, eastern Tibet held an event from 26 to 28 of April, attended by local officials, calligraphers, scholars, school teachers and students with more than 400 different calligraphies on display.

The celebration takes place amid controversy over the Tibetan language. Activists looking to promote the right to learn and practice their native language under Chinese rule have been treated harshly in the past by authorities.

In January 2016 Tibetan activist Tashi Wangchuk was detained after he highlighted the lack of Tibetan language classes in local Yushu schools - and in May 2018 he was found guilty of inciting separatism.

For Tibet’s schoolchildren the Tibetan language has become secondary to Mandarin Chinese in their classrooms. It is often taught only around once a week, and sometimes less, Tibet Watch said, adding that tensions over the Tibetan language make these current calligraphy celebrations significant for Tibetans.

The annual event became a tradition in 2017 when the first Tibetan calligraphy seminar was held in Qinghai Nationalities University and it was decided to mark 30 April every year as a day of Tibetan calligraphy.