The Tibetan people are an ethnic group from Tibet. They speak the Tibetan language natively and form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China.
The Tibetan race, which probably belongs to the Turko-Mongol stock, is divided between the nomadic tentdwelling Tibetans of the lake region and transition zone between it and the river region, and the settled sedentary population of the valleys. The tent-dwelling Tibetans, called Dokpa or Drupa (spelt hbrog-pa), or Steppe-dwellers, are generally of a more Mongolized type than the people of the lowlands. The head is mesati-cephalic, verging on brachycephalic in the case of many of the Dokpa; the hair is black and somewhat wavy; the eyes are usually of a clear brown, in some cases even hazel; the cheek-bones are high, but not so high as with the Mongols; the nose is thick, sometimes depressed at the root, in other cases prominent, even aquiline, though the nostrils are broad. The teeth are strong but irregular; the ears, with tolerably large lobes, stand out from the head, but to a less degree than. with the Mongols. The mouth is broad, the lips not full, and, among the people of the lower altitudes, decidedly thin. The beard is sparse, and, with the exception of the moustache, which is sometimes worn, especially in central Tibet, it is plucked out with tweezers. The shoulders are broad, the arms round; the legs are not well developed, the calf is especially small. The foot is somewhat small but broad, the hand coarse. The women are usually stouter than the men. The color of the skin of the Tibetans is a light brown, sometimes so light as to show ruddy cheeks in children; where exposed to the weather it becomes a dark brown. . Their voices are full, deep and powerful. They can endure exposure without much apparent inconvenience; and though the nature of the food they use is such that they cannot stand absolute privation for any considerable length of time, they can exist for long periods on starvation ratiOns, if eked out with weak soup or buttered tea, which is drunk at frequent intervals.
The sedentary population of Tibet has to a greater or less degree the same physical traits as the Dokpa, but as one approaches China proper, India or the border lands generally, one observes that the admixture of foreign blood has considerably modified the primitive type. Among the customs of the Tibetans, perhaps the most peculiar is polyandry, the brothers in a family having one wife in common. Monogamy, however, seems to be the rule among the pastoral tribes, and polygamy is not unknown in Tibet, especially in the eastern parts of the country.