Not only do Tibetans have a fondness for wearing cowboy hats, they rope and ride…yaks as well as horses. Lone Tibetans travel over the vast steppes riding yaks. This yak, saddled so beautifully, was grazing near Quinghai lake. His rider was a young woman dressed in Tibetan robes, her hair in multiple braids, and wearing a cowboy hat. I’ll show her another time.
The yak is important to Tibetans. They use the hair to make tents, the milk to drink and to make butter. The butter is used to make a tea mixed with tsampa, a roasted barley, which is a diet staple. And the butter is also used as a religious offering. Butter is saved and taken to the temple in a thermos. It is added drop by drop to the oil lamps which are always lit in front of the many statues of Buddha. And although the Tibetans are devout Buddhists and not allowed to kill a living thing, the do eat yak. Without the meat, their diet would not sustain them and so killing the yak is allowed after performing a special prayer.
I learned about the Buddhist proscription about killing a creature this way:
As we were traveling through the Quinghai area of China, a beetle of some sort got into the bus and onto the chair of our Tibetan guide. He seemed to be unnerved about the beetle crawling so near him. He shifted in his seat as if he were trying to escape from it. I was sitting nearby and thought, “He is afraid of that beetle.” Guess what I did, since I was once a farmergirl; I reached over and killed the beetle squashing it with my foot. Oh no!!! The atomosphere immediately changed to one of shocked surprise. He wasn’t afraid of the beetle. He was trying to find something to scoop it up and put it outside the vehicle. To him, killing the beetle was a sin. Of course, it was my sin but still he couldn’t help but feel bad. He felt bad but I was mortified.