A Collection of Tibetan Jokes

Illustrations by Tenzin Yangzom

High Peaks Pure Earth has collected and translated some Tibetan jokes.
The idea to do a post of Tibetan jokes has been a few years in the making. Some jokes were directly translated from this online post while some were relayed anecdotally. High Peaks Pure Earth would like to thank Tibet scholars and friends who sent in jokes via email. Indeed, as one contributor noted, “Tibetans have a great sense of humour but it does not show on your website” – this is very true.
As with all jokes, they can reveal something about society while simultaneously being either politically incorrect, culturally and contextually specific, lost in translation or just not that funny. As we all know, most jokes are funnier late at night with some friends, after a few drinks! If any reader knows any good Tibetan jokes, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or over on our Facebook page.

High Peaks Pure Earth would also like to thank Tenzin Yangzom for the original artwork featured in the post. Tenzin Yangzom is a contemporary Tibetan artist from Lhasa.

The Perfect Response to a Compliment on Health

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

A Tibetan coach driver met a Muslim trader moving with great difficulty carrying all his products at the peak of the Tanggula mountain, high above sea level.

He could not help praising him: “How strong you Muslims’ bodies are!”

The Muslim trader, while wiping the sweat off his forehead, said: “You Tibetans are truly strong. I have been selling fake products in Lhasa’s Tromsikhang market for more than ten years and it’s had no health impact on you Tibetans. ”

The Water of Tibet Flowing around the Whole World

The chairman of the board of the Tibet Forgood Distillery Co., Ltd. gave a speech at the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the company, saying:

“In order to further develop the national market, our company uses the unpolluted mineral water from the Tibetan snow mountain at an altitude of 4,700 meters as the base, which is transported to the Sichuan plains through the sky pipeline. It is then brewed with grains grown on the plateau, like highland barley, wheat and peas, using the traditional brewing process of Sichuan and the preferential taxation in Tibet.

Tasting our liquor, you will soon have the guts to drink as much as Tibetans, but also their sick liver. Our wine has also provided Tibetans with a great opportunity to compete to break the record of drinking. Tashi delek!”

A Fax in the Sauna Room

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

An American, a Japanese and a Tibetan were in a sauna together. Suddenly, there came the sound of ticking from inside the American’s arm. The American said proudly: “This is the latest technology of Microsoft, GPS tracking chips implanted in arms. Just now it was the FBI confirming my location. Our American lives are valued!”

After a while, the song “A Hymn for Tomorrow” by Alan Dawa Dolma came out from the palm of the Japanese. The Japanese said proudly: This is the latest technology of Sony, MP3 chips implanted in palms. Try it if you have the chance to visit Tokyo!”

The Tibetan, feeling the inferiority, went to the bathroom. In a rush, he left a piece of toilet paper sticking to his butt. When he returned, the American and the Japanese asked about the piece of toilet paper, feeling rather surprised: “What is that?” The Tibetan said: “I just got a fax from the headquarter of my company, asking me to sign a contract tomorrow to transfer the mining rights of 80 billion tons. What Tibet has are resources. You are welcome to invest but you’d better be quick!”

We Have Too Many of Them

A Japanese, an American and a Tibetan were sitting in the same passenger car of the train. The Japanese man took out a Panasonic laptop to send an e-mail and threw it out of the window afterwards. He said casually: “We have too many of them.”

Then the American took out a Motorola mobile and made an international call. He threw the phone out of the window, saying casually: “We have too many of them.”

The Tibetan turned red with embarrassment. He could not bear such provocation but did not know how to fight back since Tibet was only a underdeveloped ethnic autonomous region after all. At that moment, a Sichuanese stewardess came to serve drinking water. The Tibetan threw her out of the window and said casually: “We have too many of them.”

Vultures’ Chitchat

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

The 59 vultures at the sky burial site of Sera Monastery started their everyday chitchat baking in the sun, right after having enjoyed five corpses.

One of the male vultures initiated the conversation: “The story of the forty-something-year-old man we ate today was so sad! Died from alcoholism at such a young age. I could still taste the fragrance of the Wuliangye wine in his liver, different from the usual cheap liquor like Tuo barley liquor and Lhasa beer. I bet he must have been a government official at township level. Human beings with such privileged living conditions could die from too much courtesy drinking for their government jobs. What a shame!”

A female vulture could not help crying. She said: “I think that the story of the middle-aged woman who had come prostrating all the way from Derge to Lhasa is truly sad! Why hadn’t she gone to hospital earlier? She was so devoted that she thought her long-term stomach disease would be automatically healed once she reached the Buddha.”

An elder male vulture tried to comfort her: “At least she passed away peacefully. That is the ultimate wish of many Tibetans deep down, so she would not have regretted. Moreover, didn’t you notice the strong medicinal taste in her stomach?”

“It tasted weird, not like Tibetan medicine.”

“Child, Tibetan medicine nowadays is not reliable, except for those produced by qualified Tibetan medicine manufacturers. And nowadays the real Tibetan medicinal ingredients have been reduced to as little as one tenth compared to before.”

“Wow! What a sin!”

At this moment, a young vulture asked curiously: “Grandpa! Why did that young guy die before aging? I could feel that his muscle was strong. His flesh was solid.”

“Alas! That kid’s parents are so addicted to playing Mahjong that they only gave money to him to eat outside instead of cooking at home. The kid thus started to hang out with troubled teens and often skipped school. He got into a fight for his girlfriend at a KTV club and was stabbed right in the kidney! Sad!”

A vulture with only one eye said: “That old man on the contrary had a good karma. I found three eyes in his head. He must have been a kind man throughout his whole life. He lived until he was 78 years old! Om mane padme hum!”

A young female vulture asked sadly: “Grandpa, what happened to the new-born baby? The world was so unfair to him.”

“Child, nowadays, Tibetans also do not take lives seriously anymore: they get pregnant carelessly and have abortions. This will lead to bad karma. What a long journey and luck to reincarnate as a human! Anyway, every life has its own karma. Tibetans feed us birds with their bodies when their life ends, hoping we will not eat other weaker lives. It is a part of the noble circular food chain of our great nature.”

They were talking and talking, enjoying the warm and peaceful sunshine on the Snowland at a cliff at the peak of the mountain behind Sera Monastery.

Three Tibetans on a Train

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

The Qinghai-Tibet railway reached Tibet. Three Tibetans from different provinces were in the same passenger car, one from U-Tsang, one from Amdo and one from Kham.

The train suddenly stopped on the way. The short-tempered Khampa immediately jumped up, yelling: “Why did the train suddenly stop? I swear to Buddha I will teach the train conductor a lesson!”

The Amdo Tibetan tried to stop him by persuading: “Aro, let’s wait. It does not help to threaten the train conductor.” Meanwhile, he sighed and said with great regret, shaking his head: “What a shame that we Tibetans do not know how to drive a train!”

The Tibetan from U-Tsang responded: “Come on brothers! It is not a big deal. Look! Isn’t it fine as long as we close our eyes and pretend the train is still running?”

The Origin of Chamdo Snow Beer 8844

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

One day, a government official was visiting Tibet to monitor work progress and to give guidance. After seeing the active night life in Tibet, he asked the local staff accompanying him: “What do Tibetans do in their leisure time?” The local staff answered: “Drink! Mainly Budweiser!” The official responded: “Then let’s build a beer factory to meet our own needs, so that Americans won’t always earn so much of our money.”

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

A few years later, the official visited Tibet again. The rapid changes in Lhasa made him quite emotional, which together with the same local companion reminded him of his idea of building a beer factory. Curious of its implementation, he asked indirectly: “What do Tibetans now do in their leisure time?” The local staff answered: “Drink! Mainly Lhasa Beer and Budweiser!” The official burst into anger: “Why still Budweiser? Hasn’t it been driven out of the market?” The local staff answered helplessly: “Not yet. There are not enough choices for the people.”

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

“Then build another local beer brand!” said the official. Here came the Chamdo branch of the China Resources Co. Ltd.! Since then, there was another choice: Chamdo Snow Beer 8844.

Illustration by Tenzin Yangzom

Here are two more jokes submitted via email:

A conversation between a young and an old Tibetan in Amdo:
Rgya mi’i skad shes kyi yod pas?
Can you speak Chinese ?

Ga ‘dras yin na ? Dmag mi byed myong med. Nga btson khang la ‘gro myong med.
How could I? I have not been in the army and I have never been to jail.

Joke Attributed to Kabshopa Choegyal Nyima:
Kabshopa Choegyal Nyima was regarded as a progressive before being denounced in the Cultural Revolution, and presumably was attending some Maoist ideological meeting in Lhasa, where they were proposing to abolish honourific language, as an unwanted leftover of feudal society.

“Yes, Comrade”, replied Kabshopa, “You are right. But then, how would the Tibet Daily newspaper report a function where important leaders were honoured with a banquet (e.g., “gSol tshigs la gdan ‘dren zhu gnang ba”)? It would have to say simply that they were fed (“Kha lag sprad song”)!


  1. Could you explain what some of the jokes are referencing too? I’m having a hard time understanding the Three Tibetans on a Train joke and the young and old tibetan conversation.

  2. sorry, but none of this s*** is funny. There have got to be some good Tibet jokes. How about this ?
    *A Chinese politician visited a Tibetan village and asked what their needs were. ”We have 2 basic needs sir,” replied the villager. “Firstly, we have a hospital, but there’s no doctor.” On hearing this, the Chinese politician whipped out his cellphone, and after speaking for a while he reassured the village leader that the doctor would be there in a few days. He then asked about the second problem. “Secondly sir, there is no cellphone coverage anywhere in the village.” *

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