Traditional Tibetan dress depends on social class and occupation.
Laymen and priests may wear gowns made of goat hair or sheepskin, but the
priest's gown is worn to the ankle while others may come to the knee.
Women from upper classes display head dresses of pearls, turquoise, and
coral on a wooden frame, while herdswomen plait their hair with tied
colored stones. Their head and body dresses may contain coins, rings,
earrings, and necklaces. Women often wear a charm box necklace with a
deity image or talisman written insode. Tibetan families choose marriage
partners for men and women. Monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry can be
found among Tibetans. Women control family finances. Many of the secular
schools for Tibetans that once existed have been replaced by Chinese-based
schools, and Tibetan language and culture are oppressed. Traditional
education was held mostly in monasteries, and many families would
encourage at least one child to become a monk or nun. Today, many
Tibetans do not attend school except for the few studying Tibetan
medicine or Tibetan studies. Rituals for the dead include cremation and sky burial.
The animistic belief system known as Bon dominated Tibetan spirituality before Buddhism. Bon belief was rooted in the idea that everything has a spirit, from people to homes to parts of nature. Buddhism entered Tibet from Kashmir and Nepal in the 4th century. In the 7th century it became the court religion. Bon and Buddhism shaped Tibetan Buddhism. Religion is central to daily life for Tibetans. They use prayer wheels and prayer flags to communicate with gods; the family shrine is core to Tibetan family life.