Wangdu, a former Tibetan herdsman is now a successful Tibetan antiques shop owner. But as he tells us, it’s not his commercial success that is important, but what he can do to preserve and promote Tibetan culture.
Welcome to Barkhor Street in Lhasa…a window to the world of Tibetan articles and antiques.
Wangdu’s antique shop occupies the best location at the southeastern corner of Barkhor Street. It’s not big, but compact enough to display various kinds of Tibetan style jewelry and antiques.
The 42-year old former Xigaza herdsman and his wife have been running their antique business in Lhasa for more than 20 years. Starting out with selling their goods at a stall, the couple now own three antique outlets.
Studying Tibetan language and culture for six years has given Wangdu an advantage when it comes to finding antiques and relics.
Every winter, during the tourist off-season, Wangdu and his wife visit different places in Tibet, seeking old treasures from rural families.
But he has found that as peoples’ living standards have improved, old articles are becoming increasingly rare to find.
This concerns him, but not only from an economic point of view.
Wangdu treasures each article of his collections very much. He believes they tell the life stories of ancient Tibetans, and are not to be measured in money.
For him, there are symbols of Tibetan culture and tradition.
Wangdu says, as a Tibetan, he’s duty-bound to preserve the culture and heritage of his own ethnic group. He says his dream is to open a small museum when his collection of ancient Tibetan treasures is big enough, to help more people better understand the history and culture of Tibet.