The Tibet Collections Exhibition



                                                AT DR IWAN CYBERMUSEUM

                                          DI MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA DR IWAN S.




 *ill 001

                      *ill 001  LOGO MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA DR IWAN S.*ill 001

                                THE FIRST INDONESIAN CYBERMUSEUM



                                        PENDIRI DAN PENEMU IDE

                                                     THE FOUNDER

                                            Dr IWAN SUWANDY, MHA




                         WELCOME TO THE MAIN HALL OF FREEDOM               


Showcase :

The Tibet  Collections Exhibition

Frame One :

The Tibet Collections

1.Postal History

1)Chinese Imperial Qing rule

2)British Rule (1904-1911)

 3)Tibet Independent(1912-1950)

tibet stamp 1934


The first adhesive stamps issued for use in Tibet were typewritten overprints on Indian postage stamps [1] through the 1903 period, during which the Tibetan Frontier Commission, led by Sir Francis Younghusband, arrived in Khamba Jong on July 7, 1903. [2] Soon after, as no progress was made in diplomatically settling issues of the Tibetan border with Sikkim, this became a miltary expedition. One result of the treaty signed September 7, 1904 was the establishment of Indian Postal Agencies at Gartok, in Western Tibet, and Gyantse, Pharijong and Yatung, along the Indian trade route to Lhasa [2]. Tibet began issuing postage stamps at the beginning of the 20th century. The first stamps were issued in Lhasa in 1912. Other series of stamps were issued in 1914, 1933, and through the end of the 1950s.

Tibetan stamps had a figure of a snowlion, the national emblem of Tibet. The stamps were marked in Tibetan characters meaning “Tibet Government” and in English by “Tibet[3].

Collectors and philatelists encounter many fakes and forgeries of both Tibetan stamps and cancellations. Genuine postally used material also has been produced for collectors

4)Chinese PRC Rule(1954 until now)

Chinese forces occupied Tibet in 1909, when the Dalai Lama fled into Sikkim and India. However, there were Chinese communities in Tibet well before this, as shown by a registered letter from Wen Tsung-yao at Lhasa, January 9, 1909. Thereafter, Chinese stamps and special Chinese date stamps were used at Chabdo, Gyantse, Lhasa, Pharijong, Shigatse and Yatung. Postal communications of this period are scarce and eagerly sought after by both Chinese and Tibetan specialists ,


3.The History Of Tibet Lama

a.Dalai Lama

Learn Dalai Lama Lineage, Tibet History, Reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas in Dharamsala, Dharamshala !!

The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

Dalai Lama..The Nobel Peace Laureate..HH, the XIVth Dalai Lama of Tibet

Dalai Lama..Reincarnation Living Buddhas

The Dalai Lama..The Living Vedic Reincarnation, 2009 !

Being born as Hindus, we experienced ‘faith’, ‘hope’ and ‘devotion’, as children. In search of our spiritual knowledge and practise, we grew up with the power of several religions and cultures around us. Among our friends, relatives, social gathering and schoolmates, we were guided by a common faith of ‘Sharing Gods and Legends.

The concept of ‘re-incarnation’, dates back from the day Man was born. With Mankind, developed the Power of the Soul, which was separate from the ‘physical world’. While we, in our mortality, cease to exist..the Soul, continues in the form of our ‘Karmas’ in our previous birth. It is our ‘karma’ alone, that redefines our lives and the rewards and punishments.

In todays life, humans cease to exists as humans. The mantra, to Peace is a powerful tool, which can be practised, in our day to day living and should always, start from our ‘Homes’. A perfect harmony of Body, Mind and Soul is a ‘perfect’ way of living a life of Love and Compassion !!

The Dalai Lama of Tibet…the Reincarnations

The Dalai Lama is regarded by Tibetans as one of a succession of (so far) 14 incarnations of the Buddha of compassion, Chenrezig (“the Seeing-Eye” Lord), who long has been considered to be the patron deity of Tibet. Here is a brief biography of the Thirteen Dalai Lamas who have come before Tenzin Gyatso..

First Dalai Lama The First Dalai Lama : Gedun Drub (1391- 1474)

He was one of the three great disciples (and perhaps the nephew) of Tsongkapa, the founder of the Gaden monastery near Lhasa. Tsongkapa was the founder of the Gelugpa Sect (Yellow Hat) order of Buddhism that stressed discipline and austerity, imposed celibacy, and prohibited alcohol consumption. He developed it further and the Gelugpas trace their spiritual lineage to the great teacher of Indian Buddhism, the saint ‘Atisha’, who visited Tibet from 1042 to 1054. Gedun Drub was an abbot of Gaden Monastery, and founded the TashiLhumpo monastery near Xigatse, west of Lhasa, a move that further solidified the Gelugpa. He also promoted the system of reincarnated lamas, which assured the smooth transition of spiritual leaders from one generation to the next.
Second Dalai Lama

The Second Dalai Lama: Gedun Gyatso (1475-1542)

He was proclaimed the reincarnation of Gedun Drub as a young boy. Legend has it that soon after he learned to speak, he told his parents his name was Pema Dorje, the birth name of the first Dalai Lama. When he was four, he reportedly told his parents he wished to live in the TashiLhumpo Monastery to be with his monks. He was a renowned scholar and composer of mystical poetry, who traveled widely to extend Gelugpa influence, and became abbot of the largest Gelugpa, Drepung Monastery, which from this time on was closely associated with the Dalai Lamas.
Third Dalai Lama

Third Dalai Lama: Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588)

He was the first to take the title Dalai Lama. The name comes from a meeting between Sonam Gyatso and the Mongol chieftain Altan Khan, whom Sonam Gyatso visited on his extensive travels. As the two exchanged complimentary titles Sonam Gyatso called Altan Khan “King of the Turning Wheel and Wisdom.” Altan Khan referred to Sonam Gyatso as “All-Knowing Vajra-Holder, the Dalai Lama” (Dalai is Mongolian for “ocean.” Lama is Tibetan for “guru” or “teacher. ” The title is often translated “Ocean of Wisdom”). Sonam Gyatso’s predecessors were named the first and second Dalai Lama posthumously. Sonam Gyatso is credited with spreading Gelugpa influence into eastern Tibet.
Fourth Dalai Lama

The Fourth Dalai Lama: Yonten Gyatso (1589-1616)

He was the great grandson of Altan Khan of Mongolia (who coined the title “Dalai Lama”). The only non-Tibetan Dalai Lama, he was first recognized as the reincarnation of Sonam Gyatso.This period was marked by constant strife in Tibet.

Fifth Dalai Lama

The Fifth Dalai Lama: Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682)

He is one of only two Dalai Lamas to have the word “Great” added to his title. He forged an alliance with the powerful Mongol military leader ‘Gushri Khan’ to unify Tibet under the Gelugpa order. Lobsang Gyatso enjoyed a passionate following among the Mongols. He instituted rules for monastic organization, studies, rituals, and monks’ behavior that remain in effect today, and began construction of the great Potala palace in Lhasa, which is one of the wonders of the world. He also wrote histories, poetry, and work based on visionary experiences. Lozang Gyatso visited the emperor of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, after which the relationship between emperors and Dalai Lamas was generally regarded as one between patron and priest. Lozang Gyatso died in 1682.
Sixth Dalai Lama

The Sixth Dalai Lama: Tsangyang Gyatso (1683-1706)

Because of the delay in announcing the Fifth Dalai Lama’s death, Tsangyang Gyatso was well into his teens before he was recognized as the Sixth Dalai Lama. He is considered to be the most unconventional Dalai Lama. He dressed as a layperson, drank wine, enjoyed the company of women and composed love songs that are still popular in Tibet. He died while leaving the country.
Seventh Dalai Lama

The Seventh Dalai Lama: Kelsang Gyatso (1708-1757)

The seventh Dalai Lama was installed in 1720, as the Seventh Dalai Lama Kelsang Gyatso. A scholar and poet, he preferred to let ministers attend to the affairs of Tibet. It was during his reign that an ordinance formulated by the Chinese government gave the Dalai Lama rule over Tibet.

Eighth Dalai Lama

The Eighth Dalai Lama: Jhamphel Gyatso (1758-1804)

During Jhamphel Gyatso’s reign, Tibet fought wars with the Gurkhas of Nepal, and received a delegation from England, which was interested in Tibet because of its strategic location in relation to British India, China, and Czarist Russia.

Ninth Dalai Lama

The Ninth Dalai Lama: Lungtok Gyatso (1806-1815)

During Lungtok Gyatso’s brief reign, significant shifts of power began to occur in the region. The British continued to show an interest, but could make no inroads. Lungtok Gyatso died at age 11 in the Potala Palace. The subsequent three Dalai Lamas also died young.

Tenth Dalai Lama

The 10th Dalai Lama: Tsultrim Gyatso (1816-1837)

Like his predecessor, Tsultrim Gyatso died suddenly in Potala Palace before assuming temporal power. During his brief life, Tibet continued to isolate itself, while keeping a suspicious eye on its borders.

Eleventh Dalai Lama

The 11th Dalai Lama: Khendrup Gyatso (1838-1856)

He was the third in a series of Dalai Lamas who died at an early age. During Khendrup Gyatso’s life, China’s influence in Tibet weakened further because of the Opium War and the Taiping Rebellion. Tibet’s struggles continued with Nepal and Ladakh to the west.

Twelveth Dalai Lama

The 12th Dalai Lama: Trinley Gyatso (1856-1875)

His reign was a time of severe unrest among Tibet’s neighbours. The weaker Qing dynasty was unable to provide military support because of its own battles. At the same time, the British intensified pressure on the Tibetan borders, from their colonial bastion in India.

Thirteenth Dalai Lama

The 13th Dalai Lama: Thupten Gyatso (1876-1933)

He is the he second of the “Great” Dalai Lamas (after the Fifth), so designated because he held Tibet intact through tumultuous times. He fled to India. The Dalai Lama appealed to the British to help prevent China from turning Tibet into a Chinese state, but Britain remained neutral.

Thupten Gyatso instituted modernizations in Tibet, such as a postal system, paper currency, roads, and he built the country’s first power station. He is credited with revitalizing the institution of the Dalai Lama through his forceful character and political insight, and with trying to end Tibet’s centuries of isolation. Still, many of his reforms and initiatives met with crippling resistance from the conservative monastic establishment.

3b.Pancen Lama and Tashi Lupo Monastry

 The Monastery

Principals of the Monastery

1. To maintain peace and harmony

The Monastery endeavours to maintain peace and harmony both within individuals and with the world at large, and to protect the environment, taking into consideration the feelings of others, and following the example of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama.

2. To be good human beings 

 Tashi Lhunpo Monastery endeavours to provide a healthy environment for the monks to develop into strong human beings with compassion, a sense of sacrifice, honesty and a deep respect for all beings.


 3. To promote a sense of responsibility and service  

Each monk in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is encouraged to develop as a responsible and caring member of the monastic community itself and the world at large, acknowledging that the earth is home and all people members of one family.


Tibet2007_tashilhunposmallTashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet


Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the principal monastery of the U-Tsang Province in Tibet, is one of the Great Six centres of the Gelugpa tradition. Tashi Lhunpo was founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drup in 1447, and became the largest, most vibrant monastery in Tibet.


The monastery grew in importance in the 16th Century, when Tashi Lhunpo’s Abbot, Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662) was recognised by the Fifth Dalai Lama as an incarnation of Amitabha, the spiritual teacher of Chenrezig and the patron saint of Tibet, and was given the title ‘Panchen Lama’. ‘Panchen’ is the shortened form of Pandita Chenpo, meaning Great Scholar. The Panchen Lamas became – together with the Dalai Lamas – the most important religious leaders in Tibet. In the same way as the Dalai Lamas, three previous Abbots of Tashi Lhunpo were retrospectively given the title Panchen Lama, making Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen the fourth in the line.


The relationship between the Dalai Lamas and the Panchen Lamas is unique. Each Lama in their lifetime is not only involved in the search for the other’s reincarnation, but also assumes the role, first as the disciple and later in life as the master, of the other.

Under the 4th Panchen Lama, Tashi Lhunpo became an integrated society where monks from Tibet, Bhutan, India, Nepal and China lived in harmony, providing a community where monks received education as well as the warmth and love of a family. Over the years the monastery flourished as a centre of learning, and played a vital role in the preservation of Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in India


By 1959, 5,000 monks were resident in the Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet, with a further 2,000 monks outside Tibet itself. Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and the destruction caused by the Cultural Revolution, only 400-500 monks remain in the monastery. 300 monks made the journey to India following His Holiness the Dalai Lama into exile, and in 1972, under His guidance, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was established in Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, in South India.Here the 250 monks continue to follow the same tradition and principles in exile as in their monastery in Tibet.


During the 1960s, many senior Lamas and monks left Tibet because of the difficulties they faced in practising Buddhism under the Chinese occupation. Many of them helped to re-establish monasteries in India, Bhutan and Nepal. The 10th Panchen Lama was not able to leave Tibet, and as a result many of the senior lamas from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery remained inside Tibet. Without the guidance of senior lamas, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery has been at a disadvantage, and remains one of the poorest of the re-established monasteries.


The Panchen Lamas

10thPanchenLamaThe 10th Panchen Lama
Choekyi Gyaltsen 1938-1989


Choekyi Gyaltsen, the 10th Panchen Lama was born in Amdo, Eastern Tibet, in 1938. He was recognised as the Panchen’s reincarnation by Alak Lakho Rinpoche, and in 1951 was confirmed by the 14th Dalai Lama as the 10th Panchen Rinpoche. He met the Dalai Lama in Lhasa in 1952, and then took up his seat in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse.


Whilst maintaining good relations with the Chinese, the Panchen Lama was skilful in promoting the welfare of the Tibetan people. Realising that the Communist Chinese were developing a strategy which would destroy Tibetan culture, denying their stated fundamental policies of no racial discrimination and the freedom to practice religion, he submitted a 70,000 character petition demanding that the Chinese Government investigate the policy.


The Chinese Government accused the Panchen Lama of being anti-Chinese and of counter-revolutionary activities. In 1964, at a public meeting in Lhasa, he was removed from all public positions of authority. He was openly criticised and humiliated, and later taken to China. In 1966, he was subjected to a series of ‘struggle sessions’ in the National Institute of Minorities in Beijing, and was imprisoned for nine years and eight months, being released in 1975.


In 1979, the Panchen Lama was appointed Deputy Chairman of the National Peoples Politics Consultative Committee and Deputy Chairman of the National Peoples Congress. He travelled widely in the Tibetan regions of Amdo and Kham. His message urged Tibetans to maintain good relations with the Chinese. He also strongly advised them to keep alive the spirit to, “Be a Tibetan” and “Be for the Tibetan cause”. In 1985, in the Monlam Festival after the Tibetan New Year in Lhasa, the Panchen Lama said, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama and I are spiritual friends. There are no differences between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and me. Some people are trying to create discord between us. This will not succeed.”


At Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the Panchen Lama built a memorial Stupa which he consecrated and inaugurated to replace the silver Stupas of past Panchen Lamas, destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Shortly after this ceremony, on 28th January 1989, the Panchen Lama passed away in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.


From his earliest years, the 10th Panchen Lama was brought up under the supervision of the Communist Chinese, and had little opportunity to follow the traditional education of his predecessors. However, he developed within him a strong faith in the Buddhist doctrine, and an allegiance to the Tibetan cause. Since his death, he has been remembered as one of the most misunderstood Lamas in Tibet’s history, and one of the most courageous critics of Mao’s regime.


11th_PanchenLama2The 11th Panchen Lama
Gedun Choekyi Nyima 1989 – to Date




When the Tibetan Administration learned of His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama’s death, the search for his reincarnation began immediately. Thirty names of possible candidates were received from both within and outside Tibet. In March 1991, it was confirmed that the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation had been born in Tibet.

The 14th Dalai Lama in exile in India repeatedly contacted the Chinese authorities asking to be allowed to play a part in the search for the reincarnation.  He wrote to Jiang Zemin in 1995, “I have a responsibility to honour and uphold the unique historical relationship between the Dalai lama and the Panchen Lama.  For example, in my own case, I am personally greatly indebted to the 9th Panchen Lama, who took a special interest and responsibility in the search for the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama.”  All his requests were refused.

By December 1994 the signs were clear that it was time to finalise the recognition process and in January 1995 it was revealed that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, son of Konchok Phuntsok and Dechen Choedon of Lhari District in Nagchu, north of Lhasa, was the most likely candidate. On 14th May 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama officially proclaimed the six year old Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, the second highest spiritual leader of Tibet, giving him the name of Tenzin Gedun Yeshe Thrinlay Phuntsok Pal Sangpo.


Within days of the announcement, the six year old boy and his parents disappeared from their home, reportedly taken into Chinese police custody. It was not until 28th May 1996 that the Chinese authorities admitted that they were indeed holding the young boy and his parents, saying that “He has been put under the protection of the Government at the request of his parents.” According to Mr Wu Jianmin, the PRCs Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, “The boy was at risk of being kidnapped by separatists and his security had been threatened.” Since then he has been held in conditions of complete secrecy, unable to receive religious instruction in Tashi Lhunpo monastery.

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The Chinese Choice



Denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s proclamation of the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama as illegitimate, on 29th November 1995 the Chinese authorities held a ceremony during which they drew lots from a golden urn to select their own Panchen Lama. Six year old Gyaltsen Norbu was selected, and subsequently enthroned on 8th December 1995.

Shortly after His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s announcement, Chinese military forces arrested a number of monks, including Chadrel Rinpoche, Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet. Chadrel Rinpoche had been appointed head of China’s search committee for the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in August 1989. However, he had angered the Chinese authorities by rejecting their plan to select their own Panchen Lama, and by supporting His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s candidate.

Sentenced to six years imprisonment and three years deprivation of political rights for “plotting to split the motherland” and “leaking state secrets”, Chadrel Rinpoche is being held in the top secret Chuandong No 3 prison in Eastern Sichuan.


Other monks who have protested against the Chinese authorities’ actions have also been imprisoned, (more than 80 people in all) and the administration of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is now controlled by the Shigatse Religious Department, who appoint the management committee with approval of the Chinese authorities in Shigatse. A nine-member “work team” is resident in the monastery. They hold education sessions twice a week, during which the monks are ordered to oppose the Dalai Lama and His chosen reincarnation.



The whereabouts of Gedun Choekyi Nyima and his family remain unknown. 



1)The Vintage Postcard

2)Modern Pictures

4.Travelling around

1) Tibet City Tours

a)5 day Tour To Lhasa,Gyantse & Shigatse

Religious relics, holy lakes, Mt.Ervest and its area…….
Day 1: Lhasa Arrive in Lhasa. Met at airport & transfer to 3* hotel. Free in the afternoon.
tibet tours
Day 2: Lhasa Full day visits including Potala Palace & Sera Monastery.
Day 3: Lhasa- Gyantse-Shigatse Drive to Shigatse via Yamdrok lake & Gyantse. Enjoy the beautiful view of the lake . The visit Gyantse Dzong & Pelkhor Monastery .
Day 4: Shigatse- Lhasa The visit to Tashilunpo is really something you will never forget! Then drive to Lhasa in the afternoon. After arrival, pay a visit to Jorkhang Temple & Barkor Street, which will be the happy end of the trip to Tibet.
Day 5: Leave Leave for your next destination .
  • 1pax=1030USD p/p, 1180USD p/p(Land Cruiser)
  • 2pax=685USD p/p, 750USD p/p (Land Cruiser)
  • 3pax=635USD p/p, 675USD p/p (Land Cruiser)
  • 4pax=558 USD p/p, 595USD p/p (Land Cruiser)
  • 5pax=555USD p/p, 585USD p/p (Land Cruiser)
  • 6pax=520USD p/p, 545USD p/p(Lux Van)

b)CT-08 Tibet City Tour (4D3N)

Day 01  Arrive in Tibet. Meet the local guide and transfer to the hotel. Free time in the afternoon to get to be used to local climate.          (L/D) Overnight in Lhasa

Day 02  After breakfast visit Potala Palace, Tibet’ s best-known landmark.. In the afternoon visit Jokhang Temple, home of the most precious of the Buddha images in the region. Brought from Chang’ an (what is now Xi’ an ) by the Tang Princess Wen Cheng when she married Tibetan King Songsten Gampo, the Sakyamuni Buddha is truly magnificent. Then walk through the colorful bazaar on Barkhor Street known as the Pilgrims’ ay prior to visiting a carpet factory where you can marvel at the skill of the carpet weavers and admire the Buddhist designs.
(B/L/D) Overnight in Lhasa
Day 03  Lhasa is famous for its monasteries and this morning you will visit both the Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery. Drepung was once the largest and wealthiest and a Yellow Hat monastery where the Dalai Lamas were trained. Sera was a strong rival for importance and had three Tantric Colleges, famous for their Bon tradition of teaching.
(B/L/D) Overnight in Lhasa
Day 04  After breakfast take flight  from Lhasa to Chengdu, then take flight for leaving.  (B)

( USD p/p ) 
Peak Season ( Apr. -Nov. ) Slack Season ( Dec. – Mar. )  
  Budget Standard Luxury Budget Standard Luxury Note
2-5 pax   507   559  628    485   532   605   
6-9 pax  376  425  499    352    401   475  
Single Room Supplement  186  226  352   168  205  329  
10 pax up  275 344 396     253    320    372   
Single Room Supplement  156  199  268   142  176  245  
* 3* hotel ( budget ), 4* hotel ( standard ) or 5* hotel ( luxury ) , twin-bed room with private 
  shower and WC
* English speaking local guide
* Daily meals ( exclude the special flavor food )
* Admission charges where applicable as shown in the tour description
* Tranportation in the program
* Service charges for baggage handling between hotel and airport
* Domestic travel insurance
* International flights and tax
* Personal consumption
* Visa fee
* Tips for guide, driver and porter

2)Luxury Tourist Train of Qinghai-Tibet Railway is to Start in September

Updated: August 20, 2008 | Clicks: 4078

Recently, the Corporation of Qinghai-Tibet Railway revealed that the luxury tourist train will be put into services in this September. The luxury tourist train was designed according to the standard of five-star hotels, including 3 carriages of kitchen and dinning, 1 carriage of dynamo van, the left 12 carriages are Pullmans.

Qinghai-Tibet Plateau tour became the hot travel route of Western China as the opening of Qinghai-Tibet Railway since July, 1st, 2006. It activated Qinghai-Tibet Plateau tourism.

Qinghai-Tibet Train
The train was running in the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Qinghai-Tibet Plateau,Train
Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a bright sight on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Related News:

Tibet Sees Increasing Tourists after Post-riot Drop-off

Tibet Reopened to Foreign Tourists on June 25

Frame Two : The Tibet Historic Collections

Tibetian warrior in chainmail enforced by mirror plate

Tibetan history, as it has been recorded, is particularly focused on the history of Buddhism in Tibet. This is partly due to the pivotal role this religion has played in the development of Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu cultures, and partly because almost all native historians of the country were Buddhist monks.



Main article: Tibet

Tibet was situated between the ancient civilizations of China and India, separated from the former by the extensive mountain ranges to the east of the Tibetan Plateau and from the latter by the towering Himalayas. Tibet is nicknamed “the roof of the world” or “the land of snows”.

The Tibetan language and its dialects are classified as members of the Tibeto-Burman language family.


Humans inhabited the Tibetan Plateau at least twenty one thousand years ago.[1] This population was largely replaced around 3,000 BP by Neolithic immigrants from northern China. However there is a “partial genetic continuity between the Paleolithic inhabitants and the contemporary Tibetan populations”.[1] Some archaeological data suggests humans may have passed through Tibet at the time India was first inhabited, half a million years ago.[2]

The earliest Tibetan historical texts identify the Zhang Zhung culture as a people who migrated from the Amdo region into what is now the region of Guge in western Tibet.[3] Zhang Zhung is considered to be the original home of the Bön religion.[4] By the 1st century BCE, a neighboring kingdom arose in the Yarlung valley, and the Yarlung king, Drigum Tsenpo, attempted to remove the influence of the Zhang Zhung by expelling the Zhang’s Bön priests from Yarlung.[5] He was assassinated and Zhang Zhung continued its dominance of the region until it was annexed by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century.

 Archaeological record

Megalithic monuments dot the Tibetan Plateau and may have been used in ancestor worship. It is unknown whether these monuments were built by ancient Tibetans.[4] Prehistoric Iron Age hill forts and burial complexes have recently been found on the Tibetan plateau but the remote high altitude location makes archaeological research difficult.

 Mythological origins

The dates attributed to the first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo (Wylie: Gnya’-khri-btsan-po), vary. Some Tibetan texts give 126 BCE, others 414 BCE.[6] Nyatri Tsenpo is said to have descended from a one-footed creature called the Theurang, having webbed fingers and a tongue so large it could cover his face. Due to his terrifying appearance he was feared in his native Puwo and exiled by the Bön to Tibet. There he was greeted as a fearsome being, and he became king.[3]

The Tibetan kings were said to remain connected to the heavens via a dmu cord (dmu thag) so that rather than dying, they ascended directly to heaven, when their sons achieved their majority.[7] According to various accounts, king Drigum Tsenpo (Dri-gum-brtsan-po) either challenged his clan heads to a fight,[8] or provoked his groom Longam (Lo-ngam) into a duel. During the fight the king’s dmu cord was cut, and he was killed. Thereafter Drigum Tsenpo and subsequent kings left corpses and the Bön conducted funerary rites.[5][9][10]

In a later myth, first attested in the Maṇi bka’ ‘bum, the Tibetan people are the progeny of the union of the monkey Pha Trelgen Changchup Sempa and rock ogress Ma Drag Sinmo. But the monkey is in fact a manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Tib. Spyan-ras-gzigs) and the ogress in fact the goddess Tara (Tib. ‘Grol-ma).[11]

Early history

Tibet first enters history in the Geography of Ptolemy under the name βαται, a Greek transcription of the indigenous name Bod. From the 7th century CE Chinese historians referred to Tibet with a phonetic transcription Tǔfān (吐蕃), though 4 distinct characters were used. The first externally confirmed contact with the Tibetan kingdom in recorded Tibetan history occurred when King Namri Löntsän (Gnam-ri-slon-rtsan) sent an ambassador to China in the early 7th century.[12]

Tibetan Empire

Main article: Tibetan Empire

The Tibetan Empire at its greatest extent, c. 800.

The power that became the Tibetan state originated when a group convinced Stag-bu snya-gzigs [Tagbu Nyazig] to rebel against Dgu-gri Zing-po-rje [Gudri Zingpoje], who was in turn a vassal of the Zhang-zhung empire under the Lig myi dynasty. The group prevailed against Zing-po-rje. At this point Namri Songtsen (Namri Löntsän) was the leader of a clan which prevailed over all his neighboring clans, one by one, and he gained control of all the area around what is now Lhasa by 630, when he was assassinated. This new-born regional state would later become known as the Tibetan Empire. The government of Namri Songtsen sent two embassies to China in 608 and 609, marking the appearance of Tibet on the international scene.[13]

Traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification in the Chinese histories by the 7th century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of emperors ruled Tibet – see List of emperors of Tibet. Throughout the centuries from the time of the emperor Songtsän Gampo the power of the empire gradually increased over a diverse terrain so that by the reign of the emperor Ralpacan, in the opening years of the 9th century, its influence extended as far south as Bengal and as far north as Mongolia.

The varied terrain of the empire and the difficulty of transportation, coupled with the new ideas that came into the empire as a result of its expansion, helped to create stresses and power blocs that were often in competition with the ruler at the center of the empire. Thus, for example, adherents of the Bön religion and the supporters of the ancient noble families gradually came to find themselves in competition with the recently-introduced Buddhism.

Tibet divided (842-1247)

Upon the death of Langdarma, the last emperor of a unified Tibetan empire, there was a controversy over whether he would be succeeded by his alleged heir Yumtän (Wylie: Yum brtan), or by another son (or nephew) Ösung (Wylie: ‘Od-srung) (either 843-905 or 847-885). A civil war ensued, which effectively ended centralized Tibetan administration until the Sa-skya period. Ösung’s allies managed to keep control of Lhasa, and Yumtän was forced to go to Yalung, where he established a separate line of kings.[14] In 910 the tombs of the emperors were defiled.

The son of Ösung was Pälkhortsän (Wylie: Dpal ‘khor brtsan) (either 893-923 or 865-895). The latter apparently maintained control over much of central Tibet for a time, and sired two sons, Trashi Tsentsän (Wylie: Bkra shis brtsen brtsan) and Thrikhyiding (Wylie: Khri khyi lding), also called Kyide Nyigön [Wylie: Skyid lde nyi ma mgon] in some sources. Thrikhyiding emigrated to the western Tibetan region of upper Ngari (Wylie: Stod Mnga ris) and married a woman of high central Tibetan nobility, with whom he founded a local dynasty.[15]

After the breakup of the Tibetan empire in 842, Nyima-Gon, a representative of the ancient Tibetan royal house, founded the first Ladakh dynasty. Nyima-Gon’s kingdom had its centre well to the east of present-day Ladakh. Kyide Nyigön’s eldest son became ruler of the Mar-yul (Ladakh) region, and his two younger sons ruled western Tibet, founding the Kingdom of Guge and Pu-hrang. At a later period the king of Guge’s eldest son, Kor-re, also called Jangchub Yeshe Ö (Byang Chub Ye shes’ Od), became a Buddhist monk. He sent young scholars to Kashmir for training and was responsible for inviting Atiśa to Tibet in 1040, thus ushering in the Chidar (Phyi dar) phase of Buddhism in Tibet. The younger son, Srong-nge, administered day to day governmental affairs; it was his sons who carried on the royal line.[16]

Central rule was largely nonexistent over the Tibetan region from 842 to 1247, yet Buddhism had survived surreptitiously in the region of Kham. During the reign of Langdarma three monks had escaped from the troubled region of Lhasa to the region of Mt. Dantig in Amdo. Their disciple Muzu Saelbar (Mu-zu gSal-‘bar), later known as the scholar Gongpa Rabsal (Dgongs-pa rab-gsal) (832-915), was responsible for the renewal of Buddhism in northeastern Tibet, and is counted as the progenitor of the Nyingma (Rnying ma pa) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Meanwhile, according to tradition, one of Ösung’s descendants, who had an estate near Samye, sent ten young men to be trained by Gongpa Rabsal. Among the ten was Lume Sherab Tshulthrim (Klu-mes Shes-rab Tshul-khrims) (950-1015). Once trained, these young men were ordained to go back into the central Tibetan regions of U and Tsang. The young scholars were able to link up with Atiśa shortly after 1042 and advance the spread and organization of Buddhism in Lho-kha. In that region, the faith eventually coalesced again, with the foundation of the Sakya Monastery in 1073.[17] Over the next two centuries, the Sakya monastery grew to a position of prominence in Tibetan life and culture. The Tsurphu Monastery, home of the Karmapa school of Buddhism, was founded in 1155.

 The Mongols and the Sakya school (1236-1354)

The first documented contact between the Tibetans and the Mongols occurred when Genghis Khan met Tsangpa Dunkhurwa (Gtsang pa Dung khur ba) and six of his disciples, probably in the Tangut empire, in 1215.[18]

After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, the Tibetans stopped sending tribute to the Mongol Empire. As a result, in 1240, the grandson of Genghis Khan and second son of Ögedei Khan, Prince Godan (or Köden), invaded Tibet. Prince Godan asked his commanders to search for an outstanding Buddhist lama and, as Sakya Pandita, the leader of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, was considered the most religious, Godan sent him gifts and a letter of “invitation” to come to his capital and formally surrender Tibet to the Mongols. Sakya Pandita arrived in Kokonor in 1246. Prince Godan received various initiation rites and the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism became the religion of the ruling line of Mongol khans. In return, after a third Mongol invasion in 1247 led to the submission of almost all Tibetan states, Sakya Pandita was appointed Viceroy of Tibet by the Mongol court in 1249, marking one of the occasions on which the Chinese base their claim to the rule of Tibet.

On the other hand, because the Song Dynasty of China in South China had not yet been conquered by the Mongols, Tibetan historians argue that China and Tibet remained two separate units within the Mongol Empire.[2] It may therefore be more accurate to describe this process as first North China, and then Tibet being incorporated into the Mongol Empire, which was later inherited by the Yuan Dynasty founded by Kublai Khan in 1271. Kublai Khan left both the Chinese and Tibetan legal and administrative systems intact.[19] Though most government institutions established by Kublai Khan in his court resembled the ones in earlier Chinese dynasties,[20] Tibet never adopted the imperial examinations or Neo-Confucian policies.

In 1253, Drogön Chögyal Phagpa (1235–1280) succeeded Sakya Pandita at the Mongol court. Phagpa became a religious teacher to Kublai Khan. Kublai Khan appointed Chögyal Phagpa as his Imperial Preceptor in 1260, the year when he became emperor of Mongolia. Phagpa was the first “to initiate the political theology of the relationship between state and religion in the Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhist world”.[21][22] With the support of Kublai Khan, Phagpa established himself and his sect as the preeminent political power in Tibet. Through their influence with the Mongol rulers, Tibetan lamas gained considerable influence in various Mongol clans, not only with Kublai, but, for example, also with the Il-Khanids.

In 1265 Chögyal Phagpa returned to Tibet and for the first time made an attempt to impose Sakya hegemony with the appointment of Shakya Bzang-po (a long time servant and ally of the Sakyas) as the Dpon-chen (‘great administrator’) over Tibet in 1267. A census was conducted in 1268 and Tibet was divided into thirteen myriarchies.

The Sakya hegemony over Tibet continued into the middle of the 14th century, although it was challenged by a revolt of the Drikung Kagyu sect with the assistance of Duwa Khan of the Chagatai Khanate in 1285. The revolt was suppressed in 1290 when the Sa-skyas and eastern Mongols burned Drikung Monastery and killed 10,000 people.[23]

Between 1346 and 1354, towards the end of the Yuan dynasty, the House of Pagmodru would topple the Sakya. Tibet would be ruled by a succession of Sakya lamas until 1358, when central Tibet came under control of the Kagyu sect. “By the 1370s the lines between the schools of Buddhism were clear.”[24]

The following 80 years or so were a period of relative stability. They also saw the birth of the Gelugpa school (also known as Yellow Hats) by the disciples of Tsongkhapa Lobsang Dragpa, and the founding of the Ganden, Drepung, and Sera monasteries near Lhasa. After the 1430s, the country entered another period of internal power struggles.[25]

 Rise of the Phagmodru (1354-1434)

The Phagmodru (Phag mo gru) myriarchy centered at Neudong (Sne’u gdong) was granted as an appanage to Hülegü in 1251. The area had already been associated with the Lang (Rlang) family, and with the waning of Ilkhanate influence it was ruled by this family, within the Mongol-Sakya framework headed by the Mongol appointed Pönchen (Dpon chen) at Sakya. The areas under Lang administration were continually encroached upon during the late thirteenth and early 14th centuries. Jangchub Gyaltsän (Byang chub rgyal mtshan, 1302–1364) saw these encroachments as illegal and sought the restoration of Phagmodru lands after his appointment as the Myriarch in 1322. After prolonged legal struggles, the struggle became violent when Phagmodru was attacked by its neighbours in 1346. Jangchub Gyaltsän was arrested and released in 1347. When he later refused to appear for trial, his domains were attacked by the Pönchen in 1348. Janchung Gyaltsän was able to defend Phagmodru, and continued to have military successes, until by 1351 he was the strongest political figure in the country. Military hostilities ended in 1354 with Jangchub Gyaltsän as the unquestioned victor. He continued to rule central Tibet until his death in 1364, although he left all Mongol institutions in place as hollow formalities. Power remained in the hands of the Phagmodru family until 1434.[26]

 Beginnings of the Dalai Lama lineage

  Tibetan Buddhism

Guru Rinpoche - Padmasambhava statue.jpg
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Altan Khan, the king of the Tümed Mongols, first invited Sonam Gyatso, the head of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism (and to be known later as the third Dalai Lama), to Mongolia in 1569. He invited him to Mongolia again in 1578, and this time he accepted the invitation. They met at the site of Altan Khan’s new capital, Koko Khotan (Hohhot), and the Dalai Lama gave teachings to a huge crowd there.

Sonam Gyatso publicly announced that he was a reincarnation of the Tibetan Sakya monk Drogön Chögyal Phagpa (1235–1280) who converted Kublai Khan, while Altan Khan was a reincarnation of Kublai Khan (1215–1294), the famous ruler of the Mongols and Emperor of China, and that they had come together again to cooperate in propagating the Buddhist religion.[27] While this did not immediately lead to a massive conversion of Mongols to Buddhism (this would only happen in the 1630s), it did lead to the widespread use of Buddhist ideology for the legitimation of power among the Mongol nobility. Last but not least, the Yonten Gyatso, the fourth Dalai Lama,was a grandson of Altan Khan.[2 Rise of the Gelugpa schools

Yonten Gyatso (1589–1616), the fourth Dalai Lama and a non-Tibetan, was the grandson of Altan Khan. He died in 1617 in his mid-twenties. Some people say he was poisoned but there is no real evidence one way or the other.[29]

Lobsang Gyatso (Wylie transliteration: Blo-bzang Rgya-mtsho), the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, (1617–1682) was the first Dalai Lama to wield effective political power over central Tibet.

The fifth Dalai Lama is known for unifying the Tibetan heartland under the control of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating the rival Kagyu and Jonang sects and the secular ruler, the Tsangpa prince, in a prolonged civil war. His efforts were successful in part because of aid from Gushi Khan, a powerful Oirat military leader. The Jonang monasteries were either closed or forcibly converted, and that school remained in hiding until the latter part of the 20th century. With the Gushi Khan as a largely uninvolved overlord, the 5th Dalai Lama and his intimates established a civil administration which is referred to by historians as the Lhasa state. The core leadership of this government was also referred to as the Ganden Podrang by metonymy from the name of the Dalai Lama’s residence at Drepung, much as the president of the United States and his closest advisors can be referred to as “the White House”.

In 1652 the fifth Dalai Lama visited the Manchu emperor, Shunzhi. He was not required to kowtow like other visitors, but still had to kneel before the Emperor; and he received a seal.

The fifth Dalai lama initiated the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, and moved the centre of government there from Drepung.

The Potala Palace in Lhasa

The death of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1680 was kept hidden for fifteen years by his assistant, confidant, Desi Sangay Gyatso (De-srid Sangs-rgyas Rgya-‘mtsho). The Dalai Lamas remained Tibet’s titular heads of state until 1959.

During the rule of the Great Fifth, two Jesuit missionaries, the German Johannes Gruber and Belgian Albert Dorville, stayed in Lhasa for two months, October and November, 1661 on their way from Peking to Portuguese Goa, in India.[30] They described the Dalai Lama as a “powerful and compassionate leader” and “a devilish God-the-father who puts to death such as refuse to adore him.” Another Jesuit, Ippolito Desideri, stayed five years in Lhasa (1716–1721) and was the first missionary to master the language. He even produced a few Christian books in Tibetan. Capuchin fathers took over the mission until all missionaries were expelled in 1745.

In the late 17th century, Tibet entered into a dispute with Bhutan, which was supported by Ladakh. This resulted in an invasion of Ladakh by Tibet. Kashmir helped to restore Ladakhi rule, on the condition that a mosque be built in Leh and that the Ladakhi king convert to Islam. The Treaty of Temisgam in 1684 settled the dispute between Tibet and Ladakh, but its independence was severely restricted.

Khoshut, Zunghar Khanate, and Manchu

Güshi Khan of the Khoshut in 1641 overthrew the prince of Tsang and made the Fifth Dalai Lama the highest spiritual and political authority in Tibet.[31] The time of the Fifth Dalai Lama was also a period of rich cultural development.

The 5th Dalai Lama conducted foreign policy independently of the Qing, on the basis of his spiritual authority amongst the Mongolians. He acted as a mediator between Mongol tribes, and between the Mongols and the Qing Emperor Kangxi. The Dalai Lama would assign territories to Mongol tribes, and these decisions were routinely confirmed by Kangxi. In 1674, Kangxi asked the Dalai Lama to send Mongolian troops to help suppress a rebellion in Yunnan. The Dalai Lama agreed to do so, but also advised Kangxi to resolve the conflict in Yunnan by allotting fiefs instead of military action. This was apparently a turning point for Kangxi, who began to take action to deal with the Mongols directly, rather than through the Dalai Lama.[32]

The 5th Dalai Lama died in 1682. His regent, Desi Sangye Gyatso, concealed the death and continued to act in his name. In 1688, Galdan Boshugtu Khan of the Khoshut defeated the Khalkha Mongols and went on to battle Qing forces. This contributed to the loss of Tibet’s role as mediator between the Mongols and Kangxi. Several Khalkha tribes formally submitted directly to Kangxi. Galdan retreated to Dzungaria. When Sangye Gyatso complained to Kangxi that he could not control the Mongols of Kokonor in 1693, Kangxi annexed Kokonor, giving it the name it bears today, Qinghai. He also annexed Tachienlu in eastern Kham at this time. When Kangxi finally destroyed Galdan in 1696, a Qing ruse involving the name of the Dalai Lama was involved; Galdan blamed the Dalai Lama (still not aware of his death fourteen years earlier) for his ruin.[33]

About this time, some Dzungars informed Kangxi that the 5th Dalai Lama had long since died. He sent envoys to Lhasa to inquire. This prompted Sangye Gyatso to make Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama, public. He was enthroned in 1697.[34] Tsangyang Gyatso enjoyed a lifestyle that included drinking, the company of women, and writing love songs.[35] In 1702, he refused to take the vows of a Buddhist monk. The regent, under pressure from Kangxi and Lhazang Khan of the Khoshut, resigned in 1703.[34] In 1705, Lhazang Khan used the sixth Dalai Lama’s escapades as excuse to take control of Lhasa. The regent Sanggye Gyatso, who had allied himself with the Zunghar Khanate, was murdered, and the Dalai Lama was sent to Beijing. He died on the way, near Kokonor, ostensibly from illness but leaving lingering suspicions of foul play. Lhazang Khan appointed a new Dalai Lama who, however, was not accepted by the Gelugpa school. Kelzang Gyatso was discovered near Kokonor and became a rival candidate. Three Gelug abbots of the Lhasa area[36] appealed to the Zunghar Khanate, which invaded Tibet in 1717, deposed Lhazang Khan’s pretender to the position of Dalai Lama, and killed Lhazang Khan and his entire family.[37] The Zunghars proceeded to loot, rape and kill throughout Lhasa and its environs. They also viciously destroyed a small force which the Qing Emperor Kangxi had sent to clear traditional trade routes.[38]

In response, an expedition sent by Kangxi, together with Tibetan forces under Polhanas (also spelled Polhaney) of Tsang and Kanchenas (also spelled Gangchenney), the governor of Western Tibet[39][40], expelled the Zunghars from Tibet in 1720. They brought Kelzang Gyatso with them from Kumbum to Lhasa and he was installed as the seventh Dalai Lama.[41][42] A Chinese protectorate over Tibet (described by Stein as “sufficiently mild and flexible to be accepted by the Tibetan government”) was established at this time, with a garrison at Lhasa, and Kham was annexed to Sichuan.[37] In 1721, the Qing established a government in Lhasa consisting of a council (the Kashag) of three Tibetan ministers, headed by Kanchenas. A Khalkha prince was made amban, or official representative in Tibet of the Qing. Another Khalkha directed the military. The Dalai Lama’s role at this time was purely symbolic, but still highly influential because of the Mongols’ religious beliefs.[43]

The Qing came as patrons of the Khoshut, liberators of Tibet from the Zunghar, and suppoters of Kelzang Gyatso, but when they replaced the Khoshut as rulers of Kokonor and Tibet, they earned the resentment of the Khoshut and also the Tibetans of Kokonor. Lobsang Danjin, a grandson of Gushi Khan, led a rebellion in 1723. 200,000 Tibetans and Mongols attacked Xining. Central Tibet did not support the rebellion. In fact, Polhanas blocked the rebels’ retreat from Qing retaliation. The rebellion was brutally suppressed.[44]

Kangxi was succeeded by the Yongzheng Emperor in 1722. In 1725, amidst a series of Qing transitions reducing Qing forces in Tibet and consolidating control of Amdo and Kham, Kanchenas received the title of Prime Minister. Yongzheng ordered the conversion of all Nyingma to Gelug. This persecution created a rift between Polhanas, who had been a Nyingma monk, and Kanchenas. Both of these officials, who represented Qing interests, were opposed by the Lhasa nobility, who had been allied with the Zunghars and were anti-Qing. They killed Kanchenas and took control of Lhasa in 1727, and Polhanas fled to his native Ngari. Polhanas gathered an army and retook Lhasa in July 1728 against opposition from the Lhasa nobility and their allies. Qing troops arrived in Lhasa in September, and punished the anti-Qing faction by executing entire families, including women and children. The Dalai Lama was sent to Litang Monastery[45] in Kham. The Panchen Lama was brought to Lhasa and was given temporal authority over Tsang and Ngari, creating a territorial division between the two high lamas that was to be a long lasting feature of Chinese policy toward Tibet. Two ambans were established in Lhasa, with increased numbers of Qing troops. Over the 1730s, Qing troops were again reduced, and Polhanas gained more power and authority. The Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa in 1735, temporal power remained with Polhanas. The Qing found Polhanas to be a loyal agent and an effective ruler over a stable Tibet, so he remained dominant until his death in 1747.[46]

The Qing had made the region of Amdo and Kham into the province of Qinghai in 1724,[37] and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728.[47] The Qing government sent a resident commissioner (amban) to Lhasa. A stone monument regarding the boundary between Tibet and China, agreed upon by Lhasa and Beijing in 1726, was placed atop a mountain near Bathang, and survived at least into the 19th century.[48] This boundary, which was used until 1910, ran between the headwaters of the Mekong and Yangtse rivers. Territory east of the boundary was governed by Tibetan chiefs who were answerable to China.[49]

Tibetan factions rebelled in 1750 and killed the ambans. Then, a Manchu Qing army entered and defeated the rebels and installed an administration headed by the Dalai Lama. The number of soldiers in Tibet was kept at about 2,000. The defensive duties were partly helped out by a local force which was reorganized by the resident commissioner, and the Tibetan government continued to manage day-to-day affairs as before. In 1751, the Qing Emperor Qianlong established the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of Tibet above a ministry (Kashag) with four Kalöns in it.[50] He also drew on Buddhism to bolster support among the Tibetans. Six thangkas remain portraying the emperor as Manjuśrī and Tibetan records of the time refer to him by that name.[51][37] Later the Qianlong emperor was disappointed with the results of his 1751 decree and the performance of the ambans. “Tibetan local affairs were left to the willful actions of the Dalai Lama and the shapes [Kashag members],” he said. “The Commissioners were not only unable to take charge, they were also kept uninformed. This reduced the post of the Residential Commissioner in Tibet to name only.”[47] He decided to strengthen the powers of the ambans after the Gurkha invasions.

Between this time and the beginning of the 19th century, Qing authority over Tibet weakened to the point of being minuscule, or merely symbolic.[52][53][54] In 1727, the government of China began posting two high commissioners, namely ambans, to Lhasa. Chinese historians argue that the ambans’ presence was an expression of Chinese sovereignty, while those favouring Tibetan independence claims tend to equate the ambans with ambassadors. The relationship between Tibet and (Qing) China was that of patron and priest and was not based on the subordination of one to the other, according to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama.[55] (The thirteenth Dalai Lama was deposed in 1904, reinstated in 1908 and deposed again in 1910 by the Qing Dynasty government, but these pronouncements were not taken seriously in Lhasa.)[56]

In 1788, Gurkha forces sent by Bahadur Shah, the Regent of Nepal, invaded Tibet, occupying a number of frontier districts. The young Panchen Lama fled to Lhasa and the Qing Emperor Qianlong sent troops to Lhasa, upon which the Nepalese withdrew agreeing to pay a large annual sum.

In 1791 the Nepalese Gurkhas invaded Tibet a second time, seizing Shigatse and destroying the great Tashilhunpo Monastery. The Panchen Lama was forced to flee to Lhasa once again. The Qianlong Emperor then sent an army of 17,000 men to Tibet. In 1793, with the assistance of Tibetan troops, they managed to drive the Nepalese troops to within about 30 km of Kathmandu before the Gurkhas conceded defeat and returned all the treasure they had plundered.[57]

18th and 19th centuries

The Golden Urn

The 1791 Nepalese invasion and the following defeat by the Qing increased the latter’s control over Tibet. From that moment, all important matters were to be submitted to the ambans.[58]

In 1792, the emperor issued a 29-point decree which appeared to tighten Qing control over Tibet. It strengthened the powers of the ambans. The ambans were elevated above the Kashag and the Dalai Lama in responsibility for Tibetan political affairs. The Dalai and Panchen Lamas were no longer allowed to petition the Chinese Emperor directly but could only do so through the ambans. The ambans took control of Tibetan frontier defense and foreign affairs. Tibetan authorities’ foreign correspondence, even with the Mongols of Kokonor (present-day Qinghai), had to be approved by the ambans. The ambans were put in command of the Qing garrison and the Tibetan army (whose strength was set at 3000 men). Trade was also restricted and travel could be undertaken only with documents issued by the ambans. The ambans were to review all judicial decisions. The Tibetan currency, which had been the source of trouble with Nepal, was also taken under Beijing’s supervision.[59] However, according to Warren Smith, these directives were either never fully implemented, or quickly discarded, as the Qing were more interested in a symbolic gesture of authority than actual sovereignty; the relationship between Qing and Tibet remained one of two states.[60] On the other hand, other sources such as The Cambridge History of China state that Tibet and Xinjiang had become territories of the Qing dynasty by 1760,[61] and Haw also writes that after the conquest of Tibet in 1720, the control of Tibet by the Qing was further strengthened in 1750 and 1790s.[62]

It also outlined a new method to select both the Dalai and Panchen Lama by means of a lottery administered by the ambans in Lhasa. In this lottery the names of the competing candidates were written on folded slips of paper which were placed in a golden urn.[63] The emperor wanted to play this part in choosing reincarnations because the Gelugpa School of the Dalai Lamas was the official religion of his court.[64] There is general agreement that the ninth and thirteenth Dalai Lamas (and the fourteenth, but after the fall of the Qing Dynasty) were not chosen by the golden urn method but rather selected by the appropriate Tibetan officials using the previous incarnation’s entourage, or labrang,[65] with the selection being approved after the fact by the emperor.[66] In such cases the emperor would also issue an order waiving the use of the urn. The tenth Dalai Lama was actually selected by traditional Tibetan methods, but in response to the amban’s insistence, the regent publicly announced that the urn had been used.[67] The eleventh was selected by the golden urn method.[66] The twelfth Dalai Lama was selected by the Tibetan method but was confirmed by means of the lottery.[68][69]

Nepal was a tributary state to China from 1788 to 1908.[70][71] In a treaty signed in 1856, Tibet and Nepal agreed to “regard the Chinese Emperor as heretofore with respect.”[72] Michael van Walt van Praag, legal advisor to the 14th Dalai Lama,[73] claims that 1856 treaty provided for a Nepalese mission, namely Vakil, in Lhasa which later allowed Nepal to claim a diplomatic relationship with Tibet in its application for United Nations membership in 1949.[74] However, the status of Nepalese mission as diplomatic is disputed[75] and the Nepalese Vakils stayed in Tibet until the 1960s when Tibet had been part of PRC for a decade.[76][77]

European influences in Tibet

The first Europeans to arrive in Tibet were Portuguese missionaries who first arrived in 1624 led by António de Andrade. They were welcomed by the Tibetans who allowed them to build a church. The 18th century brought more Jesuits and Capuchins from Europe. They gradually met opposition from Tibetan lamas who finally expelled them from Tibet in 1745.

However, at the time not all Europeans were banned from the country — in 1774 a Scottish nobleman, George Bogle, came to Shigatse to investigate trade for the British East India Company, introducing the first potatoes into Tibet.[78]

By the early 19th century the situation of foreigners in Tibet grew more precarious. The British Empire was encroaching from northern India into the Himalayas and Afghanistan and the Russian Empire of the tsars was expanding south into Central Asia. Each power became suspicious of intent in Tibet. In 1840, Sándor Kőrösi Csoma arrived in Tibet, hoping that he would be able to trace the origin of the Magyar ethnic group. By the 1850s Tibet had banned all foreigners from Tibet and shut its borders to all outsiders.

In 1865 Great Britain began secretly mapping Tibet. Trained Indian surveyor-spies disguised as pilgrims or traders counted their strides on their travels across Tibet and took readings at night. Nain Singh, the most famous, measured the longitude, latitude and altitude of Lhasa and traced the Yarlung Tsangpo River.

British invasions of Tibet (1904-1911)

The authorities in British India renewed their interest in Tibet in the late 19th century, and a number of Indians entered the country, first as explorers and then as traders. Treaties regarding Tibet were concluded between Britain and China in 1886,[79] 1890,[80] and 1893,[81] but the Tibetan government refused to recognize their legitimacy[82] and continued to bar British envoys from its territory. During “The Great Game“, a period of rivalry between Russia and Britain, the British desired a representative in Lhasa to monitor and offset Russian influence.

At the beginning of the 20th century the British and Russian Empires were competing for supremacy in Central Asia. To forestall the Russians, in 1904, a British expedition led by Colonel Francis Younghusband was sent to Lhasa to force a trading agreement and to prevent Tibetans from establishing a relationship with the Russians. In response, the Chinese foreign ministry asserted that China was sovereign over Tibet, the first clear statement of such a claim.[83]

A treaty was imposed which required Tibet to open its border with British India, to allow British and Indian traders to travel freely, not to impose customs duties on trade with India, a demand from the British that Lhasa had to pay 2.5 million rupees as indemnity and not to enter into relations with any foreign power without British approval.[84]

The Anglo-Tibetan treaty was followed by a Sino-British treaty in 1906 by which the “Government of Great Britain engages not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet. The Government of China also undertakes not to permit any other foreign State to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet.”[85] Moreover, Beijing agreed to pay London 2.5 million rupees which Lhasa was forced to agree upon in the Anglo-Tibetan treaty of 1904.[86] In 1907, Britain and Russia agreed that in “conformity with the admitted principle of the suzerainty of China over Thibet”[87] both nations “engage not to enter into negotiations with Tibet except through the intermediary of the Chinese Government.”[87]

Qing control reasserted

The Qing put Amdo under their rule in 1724, and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728.[88][89][90] The Qing government ruled these areas indirectly through the Tibetan noblemen.

Tibetans claimed that Tibetan control of the Batang region of Kham in eastern Tibet appears to have continued uncontested from the time of an agreement made in 1726[48] until soon after the British invasion, which alarmed the Qing rulers in China.[clarification needed] They sent an imperial official to the region to begin reasserting Qing control, but the locals revolted and killed him.

The Qing government in Beijing then appointed Zhao Erfeng, the Governor of Xining, “Army Commander of Tibet” to reintegrate Tibet into China. He was sent in 1905 (though other sources say this occurred in 1908)[91] on a punitive expedition. His troops destroyed a number of monasteries in Kham and Amdo, and a process of sinification of the region was begun.[92][93]

The Dalai Lama’s title’s was restored in November 1908. He was about to return to Lhasa from Amdo in the summer of 1909 when the Chinese decided to send military forces to Lhasa to control him. The Dalai Lama once again fled, this time to India, and was once again deposed by the Chinese.[94] The situation was soon to change, however, as, after the fall of the Qing dynasty in October 1911, Zhao’s soldiers mutinied and beheaded him.[95][96]

In 1909 the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin returned from a three-year long expedition to Tibet, having mapped and described a large part of inner Tibet. During his travels, he visited the 9th Panchen Lama. For some of the time, Hedin had to camouflage himself as a Tibetan shepherd (because he was European).[97] In an interview following a meeting with the Russian czar he described the situation as follows:

“Currently, Tibet is in the cramp-like hands of China´s government. The Chinese realize that if they leave Tibet for the Europeans, it will end its isolation in the East. That is why the Chinese prevent those who wish to enter Tibet. The Dalai Lama is currently also in the hands of the Chinese Government”…”Mongols are fanatics. They adore the Dalai Lama and obey him blindly. If he tomorrow orders them go to war against the Chinese, if he urges them to a bloody revolution, they will all like one man follow him as their ruler. China’s government, which fears the Mongols, hooks on to the Dalai Lama.”…”There is calm in Tibet. No ferment of any kind is perceptible” (translated from Swedish).[97]

1912-1951: de facto independence

The Dalai Lama returned to Tibet from India in July 1912 (after the fall of the Qing dynasty), and expelled the amban and all Chinese troops.[98] In 1913, the Dalai Lama issued a proclamation that stated that the relationship between the Chinese emperor and Tibet “had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on the subordination of one to the other.”[55] “We are a small, religious, and independent nation,” the proclamation continued.[55] For the next thirty-six years, Tibet enjoyed de facto independence while China endured its Warlord era, civil war, and World War II. Some Chinese sources argue that Tibet was still part of China throughout this period.[99] Tibet continued in 1913-1949 to have very limited contacts with the rest of the world and Lhasa was for foreigners the prohibited city. Very few governments did anything resembling a normal diplomatic recognition of Tibet. The Chinese governments continued, from time to time, to assert their right to suzerainty in Tibet.[100] In 1932, the National Revolutionary Army, composed of Muslim and Han soldiers, led by Ma Bufang and Liu Wenhui defeated the Tibetan army in the Sino-Tibetan War when the 13th Dalai Lama tried to seize territory in Qinghai and Xikang. It was also reported that the central government of China encouraged the attack, hoping to solve the “Tibet situation”, because the Japanese had just seized Manchuria. They warned the Tibetans not to dare cross the Jinsha river again.[101] A truce was signed, ending the fighting.[102][103] The Dalai Lama had cabled the British in India for help when his armies were defeated, and started demoting his Generals who had surrendered[104]

Rule of the Chinese Communist government

The Chinese government claims for this time period are a matter of some controversy. For instance they claim to have “liberated the Tibetan serfs” but many Tibetans were nomads or owned their own land rent free, and for those who were under obligations, there is controversy about whether their status is similar to the European serf and how onerous the obligations were.

Also the system based on recognition of “reincarnated Lamas” meant that any children from any family might become recognised as the religious and political leaders of the next generation. This unusual system of government has no analogy in the European system. There are other differences as well. See Examples of Fuedal Systems – Tibet.

Also starvation was common in China at the time, but was not common in Tibet. There are widely varying accounts of the effect of the takeover on welfare of Tibetans. See Serfdom in Tibet Controversy – Slavery, and Tibetan welfare after the Chinese takeover

Tibetologist Robert Barnett writes: “From a human rights point of view, the question of whether Tibet was feudal in the past is irrelevant. A more immediate question is why the PRC does not allow open discussion of whether Tibet was feudal or oppressive. Writers and researchers in Tibet face serious repercussions if they do not concur with official positions on issues such as social conditions in Tibet prior to its “liberation,” and in such a restrictive climate, the regime’s claims on this issue have little credibility.” For details of this controversy, see Competing versions of Tibetan History

This section therefore describes the Chinese Government’s version of the history of Tibet (mainly). It should be treated with some caution until whatever time a more open discussion of the issue is permitted within China. Whether it is true or not, it motivated and continues to motivate decisions of the Chinese government and so this version of the history is of interest for that reason. Perhaps two or more versions of the history are really needed, as it seems unlikely that a single unified history can presented any time soon, and the actions of the Chinese government are best understood if you know the Chinese version of the history of Tibet which motivate them.

In 1949, seeing that the Communists were gaining control of China, the Kashag expelled all Chinese connected with the Chinese government, over the protests of both the Kuomingtang and the Communists.[105] The Chinese Communist government led by Mao Zedong which came to power in October lost little time in asserting a new Chinese presence in Tibet. In October 1950, the People’s Liberation Army entered the Tibetan area of Chamdo, defeating sporadic resistance from the Tibetan army. In 1951, Tibetan representatives participated in negotiations in Beijing with the Chinese government. This resulted in a Seventeen Point Agreement which formalised China’s sovereignty over Tibet.[106]

From the beginning, it was obvious that incorporating Tibet into Communist China would bring two opposite social systems face-to-face.[107] In Tibet, however, the Chinese Communists opted not to place social reform as an immediate priority. To the contrary, from 1951 to 1959, traditional Tibetan society with its lords and manorial estates continued to function unchanged.[107] Despite the presence of twenty thousand PLA troops in Central Tibet, the Dalai Lama’s government was permitted to maintain important symbols from its de facto independence period.[107]

However the Chinese quickly abolished slavery and the Tibetan serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the many crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They established secular schools, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. And they constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa.[108]

The Tibetan region of Eastern Kham, previously Xikang province, was incorporated in the province of Sichuan. Western Kham was put under the Chamdo Military Committee. In these areas, land reform was implemented. This involved communist agitators designating “landlords” — sometimes arbitrarily chosen — for public humiliation in thamzing (Wylie: ‘thab-‘dzing; Lhasa dialect IPA: [[tʰʌ́msiŋ]]) or “Struggle Sessions,” torture, maiming, and even death.[109][110][111]

By 1956 there was unrest in eastern Kham and Amdo, where land reform had been implemented in full. These rebellions eventually spread into western Kham and Ü-Tsang.

In 1956-57, armed Tibetan bands ambushed convoys of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The uprising received extensive assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including military training, support camps in Nepal, and numerous airlifts.[112] Meanwhile in the United States, the American Society for a Free Asia, a CIA-financed front, energetically publicized the cause of Tibetan resistance, with the Dalai Lama’s eldest brother, Thubtan Norbu, playing an active role in that organization. The Dalai Lama’s second-eldest brother, Gyalo Thondup, established an intelligence operation with the CIA as early as 1951. He later upgraded it into a CIA-trained guerrilla unit whose recruits parachuted back into Tibet.[113]

Many Tibetan commandos and agents whom the CIA dropped into the country were chiefs of aristocratic clans or the sons of chiefs. Ninety percent of them were never heard from again, according to a report from the CIA itself, meaning they were most likely captured and killed.[114] “Many lamas and lay members of the elite and much of the Tibetan army joined the uprising, but in the main the populace did not, assuring its failure,” writes Hugh Deane.[115] In their book on Tibet, Ginsburg and Mathos reach a similar conclusion: “As far as can be ascertained, the great bulk of the common people of Lhasa and of the adjoining countryside failed to join in the fighting against the Chinese both when it first began and as it progressed.”[116] Eventually the resistance crumbled.

In 1998, the Dalai Lama’s organization itself issued a statement admitting that it had received millions of dollars from the CIA during the 1960s to send armed squads of exiles into Tibet to undermine the Maoist revolution.[117]

In 1959, China’s military crackdown on rebels in Kham and Amdo led to the “Lhasa Uprising.” Full-scale resistance spread throughout Tibet. Fearing capture of the Dalai Lama, unarmed Tibetans surrounded his residence, and the Dalai Lama fled[118] to India.[119]

In 1965, the area that had been under the control of the Dalai Lama’s government from the 1910s to 1959 (Ü-Tsang and western Kham) was renamed the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR. Autonomy provided that the head of government would be an ethnic Tibetan; however, actual power in the TAR is held by the First Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, who has never been a Tibetan.[120] The role of ethnic Tibetans in the higher levels of the TAR Communist Party remains very limited.[121]

The destruction of most of Tibet’s more than 6,000 monasteries occurred between 1959 and 1961.[122] During the mid-1960s, the monastic estates were broken up and secular education introduced. During the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards[123] inflicted a campaign of organized vandalism against cultural sites in the entire PRC, including Tibet’s Buddhist heritage.[124] According to at least one Chinese source, only a handful of the religiously or culturally most important monasteries remained without major damage,[125] and thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns were killed, tortured or imprisoned.[126][not in citation given]

In 1989, the Panchen Lama died of a massive heart attack at the age of 50.[127]

“Police Attention: No distributing any unhealthy thoughts or objects.” Nyalam, Tibet, 1993.

The PRC continues to portray its rule over Tibet as an unalloyed improvement, but foreign governments continue to make protests about aspects of PRC rule in Tibet as groups such as Human Rights Watch report alleged human rights violations. Most governments, however, recognize the PRC’s sovereignty over Tibet today, and none have recognized the Government of Tibet in Exile in India.

Widespread protests against Chinese rule flared up again in 2008. The Chinese government reacted strongly, imposing curfews and strictly limiting access to Tibetan areas. The international response was likewise immediate and robust, with a number of leaders condemning the crackdown and large protests (including some in support of China’s actions) in many major cities.

Tibetans in Exile

Following the Lhasa uprising and the Dalai Lama‘s flight from Tibet in 1959, the government of India accepted the Tibetan refugees. India designated land for the refugees in the mountainous region of Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile are now based.

The plight of the Tibetan refugees garnered international attention when the Dalai Lama, spiritual and religious leader of the Tibetan government in exile, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Prize on the basis of his unswerving commitment to peaceful protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. He is highly regarded as a result and has since been received by government leaders throughout the world. Among the most recent ceremonies and awards, he was given the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bush in 2007, and in 2006 he was one of only five people to ever receive an honorary Canadian citizenship (see Honorary Canadian citizenship). The PRC consistently protests each official contact with the exiled Tibetan leader.

The community of Tibetans in exile established in Dharamsala and Karnataka, South India, has expanded since 1959. Tibetans have duplicated Tibetan monasteries in India and these now house tens of thousands of monks. They have also created Tibetan schools and hospitals, and founded the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives — all aimed at continuing Tibetan tradition and culture. Tibetan festivals such as Lama dances, celebration of Losar (the Tibetan New Year), and the Monlam Prayer Festival, continue in exile.

In 2006, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama declared that “Tibet wants autonomy, not independence.”[128] However, the Chinese distrust him, believing that he has not really given up the quest for Tibetan independence.[129]

Talks between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government began again in May, 2008 with little result.[130]

the end @ copyright Dr Iwan Suwandy 2011


2 responses to “The Tibet Collections Exhibition

  1. Dear Sirs,

    Unfortunately I have to tell you the Tibet cover wrongly shown under “British Rule” is manipulated.
    One or two years the Tibet stamp expert Rainer Fuchs contacted me to hear my opinion about
    that cover. Apparently it had been sold just prior to this.

    Originally before being manipulated the cover only had a Br. Indian stamps. Sent from Nepal to
    Shigatse via the agent in Gyantse. The cover was apparently sent from Gyantse to Shigatse
    with a private traveler. Later the cover came in philatelic hands and the 4 tranka stamps and
    postmark Gyantse was added.

    It should be noted the arrival Gyantse postmark is from 1933. The first year of the modern type
    tibetan stamps. It should further be noted the first printings of 4 tranka stamps were in Emerald
    and later Olive-Green. The first of the Yellow-Green printings came first in 1940. The combination
    is not possible. Stamp and postmark has been added at a later date.

    After the local tibetan mail distribution upphörde late 1956 it is known that at least some of the
    postal cancellers came in private hands. Among others fake cover with combinations of Tibetan
    and PRC stamps are known. Even after 1959 which is completely impossible.

    Further the single 4 tranka stamp marked “tibet stamp 1934” is a forgery. Belongs to the second
    set of classic forgeries and came in the market around 1945 at a time you could still buy genuine
    in the Lhasa post office.

    Kind regards,
    Bo C. Olsson

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