A Study of Lhasa Dwelling Culture in Art Anthropology

Nature and Development of Art Anthropology

(A) The nature of art anthropology

Art anthropology is an interdisciplinary study, its research object and content is art, the research method and perspective is anthropological, more absorb the anthropological field work way, in a word, art anthropology is to study art by anthropological methods.

In short, art anthropology is the study of art with an anthropological approach. Compared with traditional art studies, art anthropology is more concerned with the global and all-human, social and cultural aspects of art. Art anthropology includes the study of the human horizon, the study of artists, artists and various artistic groups engaged in the creation of art. Art anthropology focuses on anthropological fieldwork, art studies, and interdisciplinary research methods.

(B) History of the development of art anthropology

The development of art anthropology is divided? Geun? There are two phases: the classical period, from the end of the 19th century to before World War I. During this period, research was mainly concerned with the origin, evolution and transmission of regional styles and patterns; the modernist period, between World War I and World War II; the postmodernist period, after World War II, from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the relationship between anthropology and art underwent a transformation from compatibility to exclusion, and large-scale art anthropology research started from the The anthropology of art began to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s.

The anthropology of art in the classical period, which included the classical evolutionary school and the school of communication, attempted to address the origins of human art and the imagined history of the development and evolution of art in the early human period, and the common characteristic of anthropologists was that they relied mostly on documents and travelers’ journeys to speculate on the history of the human past.

The field of anthropology in the modernist period phase saw the emergence of academic schools of thought such as cultural relativism and functionalism and structuralism, during which anthropologists were tasked with gaining first-hand experience from other cultures and advocating access to the field. Anthropologists often saw art as an accessory to culture, as a way of presenting social structures or as a natural physiological need, and modern art of the time also pursued the search for scientific laws.

The post-modernist period was a critique of all “modern” understandings, in which anthropology became increasingly concerned with artistic phenomena in culture and art studies increasingly required an anthropological way of thinking, and after the 1980s art anthropology began to develop its own unique perspective and to become a system of its own.

The Culture of Dwelling in the Tamar District of Lhasa’s Chengguan District

The author has been in Lhasa for nearly a year and settled in the vicinity of the Tama neighborhood. When I went out to observe the residential architecture of Lhasa, I found that the Tama neighborhood was representative.

On this day, I met an old man in Tibetan dress, and after explaining where I came from, the old man enthusiastically told me that “tama” means “red flag”, and that this place was once called Chongla village, which was particularly poor. Since the 1980s, the illegal activities of “Chong La Yayo” have resurfaced.

During this period, fights, brawls and traffic accidents occurred many times, which led to a great impact on people’s lives. In 1999, the government banned the illegal activities of “Chongla Yayo” and led the whole village to concentrate on economic construction, creating village enterprises such as small communities, hotels, farmhouses and flower markets. And the villagers unanimously requested to change the name of the dishonorable “Chongla Village” to “Tamar Village”. Said the old man’s face flooded with smiles, but also did not forget to praise two good Communist Party, so that their families have a rich life.

I observed that the Tama community is mostly four-story single-family houses, rows of homes are neatly arranged, the main building is a building, two sides of a square, one is a partition wall so that the four sides of the surrounding, the middle is the courtyard. The exterior walls of the earth and stone structure are white, while the window frames and sills are black. The houses are mostly flat-roofed and the periphery of the daughter wall of the roof is also painted with a red decorative band and white vajra knot pattern.

There is also a water well inside the courtyard. In this community, the first two floors are mostly private hotels, these businessmen come from Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, with Sichuan predominating. The third and fourth floors are inhabited by residents.

The author was fortunate to visit a Tibetan woman’s home, living on the third floor, so here is mainly about Tibetans that is, the third and fourth floors of the living room furnishings and decoration. The living room of her house is divided into five rooms, which are used as bedroom, living room, sutra hall, kitchen and storeroom, of which the sutra hall is an important part to worship the gods and Buddhas. In the living room by the window position along the wall of the Tibetan sofa, sofa neatly laid on the card cushion, in the center of the sofa there is a low Tibetan table called “Juez”, about knee-high, three sides of the paneling on one side of the two doors, the table legs are very charming, shaped like a dog’s leg, the surface of the Tibetan table painted with floral auspicious patterns. Directly opposite the sofa is the Tibetan cabinet, the hostess told me that the Tibetan cabinet is divided into “Bi Gang”, “Chagang” and so on, “Bi Gang” more than one meter high, the upper part of the door inside the glass, mostly in the living room The corner of the room.

“Chagang” means “double cabinet”, that is, to be placed in pairs, mostly in the front of the living room, and the Buddha niche can be placed on top of the “Chagang”, so we can judge that the hostess’s family’s hidden cabinet is the “Chagang”, in addition to the side against the wall of the other three sides are painted with eight auspicious emblem, cranes and other auspicious patterns, because her family has a special sutra hall, “Chagang” on the niche is not placed, placed on the LCD TV, probably a look at the sutra hall is dedicated to “In front of the statue, there are three rows of copper water purification bowls, seven in each row. The kitchen is a separate room, and the fireplace is a one-piece stove with a flue located in the middle of the wall opposite the door, and there are copper water ladles and other utensils hanging on the wall near the stove. The owner told me that the furnishings of her house were the basic furnishings of most families, and that it was a custom inherited from everyone.

The door is composed of a door frame, a lintel, and a bucket arch. The lintel is attached to the bucket arch, which is painted in blue, red, and green, and the lintel is also stamped with gold charms, and there is a convex shape above the lintel so that it can be used as a niche for the Buddha or holy relics worshiped by the owner. The walls along the door frame are painted in black, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.

Firewood is neatly stacked on the wall of each house, because the history of electricity supply in Lhasa is not long, stacking firewood is the continuation of the traditional practice of burning firewood. The five-color sutra streamers called “tajue” are hung on the four corners of the roofs of the front rows of these houses, which are blue, white, red, yellow and green from top to bottom, symbolizing blue sky, white clouds, red fire, yellow earth and green water, and also printed with scriptures.


Art anthropology from the geographical space art anthropology reminds people that in addition to the art of the center of human civilization in the past there are other regions of the culture and art of indigenous peoples; from the time to advance the previous history of world art from ancient Egyptian art, Mesopotamian art, ancient Greek art, ancient Roman art to start from the Paleolithic hunting art and gathering art.

From a social stratification point of view not only the cultural and artistic elite of Europe and the upper class as the center, but also the lower class art; from a socio-cultural point of view art anthropology not only takes a global view of the various arts in different historical periods of mankind as well as in different ethnic regions and social classes equally, but also looks at art as a whole that is interconnected with all parts of society.

In the process of using the method of art anthropology to conduct research, the author found that the Tama community has already shown signs of Sinicization, such as a TV in the living room and a Simmons in the bed, which from one side shows the development of the Tibetan economy, but by and large retains traditional Tibetan characteristics, such as Tibetan furniture, decorative patterns on the furniture, and the decoration of the house with the characteristics of Tibetan arts and crafts.

Due to the limitation of the author’s own knowledge level, the depth of research on Lhasa residence culture is not enough, and I would like to ask experts to correct me.