Although the Tibetans strongly maintain they are one people and are opposed to any attempts to classify them as separate groups, the Tibetan nationality clearly divides into numerous linguistic components.
Central Tibetan – which contains five dialects – “is more commonly known as central Bus (transliterated from U, the spoken version of the same word). Educated people from other areas of Tibet traditionally retained their local variety and learned the literary variety of Central Tibetan.”
The Tibetan Buddhist religion is the life-blood of the Tibetan people. It was placed over the powerful Tibetan religion of Bon, which is a mixture of magic, divination, demon worship, and sacrifices. The patron saint of Tibet is Chenrezig, whose image has up to 11 heads and from 2 to 1,000 arms.
Tibet has long been one of the greatest challenges for Christianity. In 1892 Hudson Taylor said, “To make converts in Tibet is similar to going into a cave and trying to rob a lioness of her cubs.” Timothy, the Nestorian patriarch in Baghdad (778-820), referred to Christians in Tibet and indicated he was willing to assign a missionary to them. Today there are just one or two small Tibetan fellowships in Lhasa. Would-be missionaries face opposition from Buddhist monks, the Chinese authorities, and pro-Tibet foreigners living in Tibet.