Himalayan VOICES High Himalaya FORUM Himalayan Heritage  
 > Cultural Resources
The Himalayas are several cultural cosmoses, every Himalayan slope, from the anthropo-geographical standpoint, a complex phenomenon. The region displays a whole range of cultural features/combinations as a consequence of the altitudinal variation - a variety of occupations from commercial cropping and agro-processing to nomadic pastoralists, every degree of density from congestion to vacancy, every range of cultural development from industrialisation to nomadism. The Himalayan populace represents an exceptionally diverse social and ethnical fabric, consisting of nearly 40 million people of various clans and tribes. This has resulted in a rich cultural heritage, reflected in the region's colourful arts and crafts, music, literature, architecture and intriguing customs and traditions.
The isolation bred by the high mountain ranges have helped nurture a multiplicity of tribes in the Himalayan region, and the frequent waves of migration and the resultant melding of racial strains of the Negroid, Mongoloid and Aryan races have given lifestyles that are at once very different and yet similar. There are the Dards and Mons of the western Himalayas, those of the Khasa and Kanet ancestry in the west and central Himalayas, the Thakurs, Chhetris, Gurungs and Tamangs and many others of the Nepal...
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The people of the Himalayan region have a unique culture that is characterized by a wide range of customs and traditions, as a result of the agro-climatic variations, as well as the striking homogeneity because of their shared racial origin, interactions, and similar geographic context. This includes the socio-economic fabric of social hierarchies, family structure, status of women, and rites of passage, as well as occupations & livelihoods. Secluded for centuries due to the region's remoteness, the cultural sovereignty of the Himalayan tribes had remained intact.
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The Himalayan region is characterized by considerable linguistic diversity and multilingualism as well. Language communities of the Himalayas include the Indo-European language family, the Dravidian language family, the Tibeto-Burman language family, the Austro-Asiatic language family, as well as some language isolates. The languages of the rituals (Sanskrit, Tibetan) are usually well developed and documented, and some of the more widely used languages such as Nepali, Burmese, etc., also have detailed dictionaries.
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The Himalayan communities have a wealth of traditional art forms and crafts, that include thangka painting, wood carving, carpet weaving, and traditional music and dances. These art and craft forms follow a distinct Himalayan style, characterized by Tibetan, Nepali and Kashmiri religious cultures and span the areas under the sway of these particular cultures. Himalayan style art is generally religio-aesthetic in nature, and comprises of iconography, composition, symbols and motifs drawn from the forms of religions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.
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