Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Tibetans (properly Bod-pa, Landsmen," "aborigines"), the indigenous inhabitants of the Tibetan plateau, and of both slopes of the Himalayas from Baltistan ("Little Tibet") eastwards to Bhutan and North Assam; are a Mongoloid people forming a distinct branch of the Indo-Chinese division, with nearest congeners, the Burmese of the Irawadi basin. The type, which, in Burma, approaches that of the soft effeminate Hindus, is marked on the uplands by short, broad, muscular frames, low and broad forehead, black shaggy hair, small hands and feet, dark-yellow complexion, features more regular - that is, less broad and flat, than those of the Mongolians. They are a frank, kindly people, but extremely superstitious, and entirely in the hands of the Buddhist priests, who are the chief landowners and traders of the country. Polyandry is prevalent, especially in the poorer districts, where an increase of population would lead to distress and famine. The Tibetan language, which is a member of the Indo-Chinese isolating group [CHINESE], is spoken, with considerable uniformity throughout Tibet Proper and Ladakh, and is written with a peculiar character based on the Devanagari, introduced by the Buddhist missionaries in the 7th century. It has long been cultivated, and possesses a vast literature, rich especially in religious writings. The orthography is historical, and the result is that, as in English, many letters are written which are no longer pronounced. Thus, the d of Bod-pa is now silent, and the word is pronounced Bo-pa. As in the other Indo-Chinese languages, tones have also been developed, at least in the central provinces, to compensate for loss in the current speech of letters recognised in the written language. (Edkins, De Koros, Jaschke, T. de Lacouperie.)