Tibet History-to Learn Tibet
According to the history records, the original Tibetan inhabitants began to live in the highlands as early as the Palaeolithic Age. Then, they merged with the Qiang people, who had come the long way from Qinghai and Gansu Provinces, becoming the ancestors of Tibetans. They herded goats, cattle and sheep. By 100 BC people in Tibet learned to irrigate the land and grew rice and barley as well as raising herds of livestock.
Although the history of Tibet can be dated back to thousands of years, the written history only recorded this mysterious land since 7th century when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king, sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit who on his return invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit.
The written History of Tibet can be divided into the following periods
1. The Tupo Period (the 7th century-877)
Tibet’s first palace Yumbulagang is located in the Yarlung River Valley near Tsetang Town. It was built by the first Tibet King Nyentri Tsenpo. Tibet has a recorded history of about 1300 years. What happened before that had been passed down in the form of legends and these legends were written down by later generations.
During the first part of the 7th century, Tubo King Songtsan Gambo unified the various Tibetan tribes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and formed the Tubo Kingdom, which later maintained frequent contact with the Central Government of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Songtsan Gamoi was an outstanding ruler, he unified Tibet, changed his capital to Lhasa, sent Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit and promulaged a script for the Tibetan on the latter's arrival to Tibet, married Princess Wencheng of the Tang Court and Pricess Bhrikuti Debi of Nepal, built the Potala and the the temple of Jokhang.
The Tupo Period lasted 200 years to the year of 877. Slave and common people’s uprisings spread through various parts of the kingdom. And the insurrectionary army seized Qiongjie, dig up the tombs of Tibetan kings. Since then, the Tupo Period fell apart.
2. The Sakya Period (877-1354)
After the fall the Tupo Regime, Tibet had seen 400 years of division, local powers and wars. The Sakya Dynasty tottered in the latter period of the Yuan Dynasty and was replaced by the Pagdu Dynasty in 1354, which also submitted to the central government of the Yuan Dynasty and to that of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Sakya Period was the time when Tibet officially became an inseparable part of China.
In 1260 Khubli Khan came into power as the emperor of Yuan Dynasty. He granted Basiba, the head lama of Sakya monastery, the position of spiritual leader and presented him a jade seal. The emperor also authorized him to take charge of national Buddhism affairs and administrative affairs of Tibet. In the year of 1265, Basiba was ordered to return to Tibet. He enlarged Sakya Monastery and set up Sakya kingdom to administer the local affairs in Tibet. Now Sakya Monastery is still there 60 kilometers away from Shigates City.
3 The Pagdu Period (1354-1618)
In 1322, a very eminent person in Tibetan history, Qiangqujianzan assumed office as the 10th head of the Wanhu (ten-thousand households). In 1348, Qiangqujianzan defeated Caiba. And in 1354 he occupied Sakya Monastery and replaced the Sakya authorities. Thus he instituted a government called Pazhu Regime controlling the most part of Tibet.
It was under the patronage of the Pagdu Dynasty that Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), much influenced by Atisha, and established the Gelugpa Order, the order of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. In 1578, the title of 'Dalai Lama' was first conferred on Sonam Gyasto (1542-1588) by Altan Khan, a Mongol chief who is known for re-introducing Buddhism into Mongolia. In 1587, the title of 'Dalai Lama' was officially admitted by the Ming Dynasty, with Sonam Gyasto being known as the third and his two predecessors being posthumously admitted as the first and the second Dalai Lamas. Initially given by Gushri Khan, chief of the Qosot Mongols, the title of 'Panchen Lama' started with Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen (1567-1662), the fourth Panchen Lama, with the former three being posthumously admitted.
There were 12 generations of kings in Pazhu Regime and they ruled Tibet for 264 years from 1354 to 1618.
4. The Gandan Podrang's Period (1642-1951)
The early 17th century was a period of civil war in Tibet. Then in 1640 the Mongols entered Tibet to support the Fifth Dalai Lama. In 1642 they made him temporal ruler as spiritual leader of Tibet. From then on the Dalai Lama was a priest-king.
In 1652, the 5th Dalai escorted by 3000 people went to Beijing and Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty awarded him a golden seal and bestowed him as the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet. And the title “Dalai Lama” and the position of Dalai were confirmed by the central government. Ever since, it has become a practice for the central government to approve and confirm a new Dalai Lama.
It started in 1642 A.D. when the 5th Dalai Lama overtook the ruling power from the Tsang ruler. It basically ended in 1951 when Tibet was liberated and came to a complete end in 1959 when rebellion led by the Dalai Lama was pacified and the People's Government of the Tibet, Autonomous Region was set up.
5. Tibet Autonomous Region (since 1965)
From 1912 until 1949, the Republic of China took charge of the local administration of Tibet and the conferment of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
In 1949, People’s Republic of China was founded. The government stuck to the policy of peaceful liberation of Tibet. As a result, Tibet was liberated peacefully in 1951. The policy of regional national autonomy was exercised in Tibet. The democratic reform wad carried out and the feudal serfdom was abolished. In September 1965, Tibet Autonomous Region was established.
Related links to Tibetan King of Songtsen Gampo