Tibet

Coordinates: 31°12′N 88°48′E / 31.2°N 88.8°E

Cultural/historical, (highlighted) depicted with various competing territorial claims.               "Greater Tibet" as claimed by Tibetan exile groups   Tibetan autonomous areas, as designated by China   Tibet Autonomous Region, within China Chinese-controlled, claimed by India as part of Aksai Chin Indian-controlled, parts claimed by China as South Tibet Other areas historically within the Tibetan cultural sphere
              "Greater Tibet" as claimed by Tibetan exile groups
  Tibetan autonomous areas, as designated by China
  Tibet Autonomous Region, within China
Chinese-controlled, claimed by India as part of Aksai Chin
Indian-controlled, parts claimed by China as South Tibet
Other areas historically within the Tibetan cultural sphere
Tibet
Tibet-dz-zh
"Tibet" in the Tibetan (top) and Chinese (bottom) scripts
Chinese name
Chinese西藏
Literal meaning"Western Tsang"
Tibetan name
Tibetanབོད་

Tibet (/tɪˈbɛt/ (listen); Tibetan: བོད་, Lhasa dialect IPA: /pʰøː˨˧˩/; Chinese: 西藏; pinyin: Xīzàng) is a historical region covering much of the Tibetan Plateau in Inner Asia. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Tamang, Qiang, Sherpa, and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft). The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.

The Tibetan Empire emerged in the 7th century, but with the fall of the empire the region soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet (Ü-Tsang) was often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa, Shigatse, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. Thus Tibet remained a suzerainty of the Mongol and later Chinese rulers in Nanjing and Beijing, with reasonable autonomy given to the Tibetan leaders.[1] The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure, being divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, while also often falling more directly under Chinese rule after the Battle of Chamdo; most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century.[2]

Following the Xinhai Revolution against the Qing dynasty in 1912, Qing soldiers were disarmed and escorted out of Tibet Area (Ü-Tsang). The region subsequently declared its independence in 1913 without recognition by the subsequent Chinese Republican government.[3] Later, Lhasa took control of the western part of Xikang, China. The region maintained its autonomy until 1951 when, following the Battle of Chamdo, Tibet became incorporated into the People's Republic of China, and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising.[4] Today, China governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region while the eastern areas are now mostly ethnic autonomous prefectures within Sichuan, Qinghai and other neighbouring provinces. There are tensions regarding Tibet's political status[5] and dissident groups that are active in exile.[6] Tibetan activists in Tibet have reportedly been arrested or tortured.[7]

The economy of Tibet is dominated by subsistence agriculture, though tourism has become a growing industry in recent decades. The dominant religion in Tibet is Tibetan Buddhism; in addition there is Bön, which is similar to Tibetan Buddhism,[8] and there are also Tibetan Muslims and Christian minorities. Tibetan Buddhism is a primary influence on the art, music, and festivals of the region. Tibetan architecture reflects Chinese and Indian influences. Staple foods in Tibet are roasted barley, yak meat, and butter tea.

Names

The Tibetan name for their land, Bod བོད་, means "Tibet" or "Tibetan Plateau", although it originally meant the central region around Lhasa, now known in Tibetan as Ü. The Standard Tibetan pronunciation of Bod, [pʰøʔ˨˧˨], is transcribed Bhö in Tournadre Phonetic Transcription, in the THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription and Poi in Tibetan pinyin. Some scholars believe the first written reference to Bod "Tibet" was the ancient Bautai people recorded in the Egyptian Greek works Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century CE) and Geographia (Ptolemy, 2nd century CE),[9] itself from the Sanskrit form Bhauṭṭa of the Indian geographical tradition.[10]

The modern Standard Chinese exonym for the ethnic Tibetan region is Zangqu (Chinese: 藏区; pinyin: Zàngqū), which derives by metonymy from the Tsang region around Shigatse plus the addition of a Chinese suffix, 区 , which means "area, district, region, ward". Tibetan people, language, and culture, regardless of where they are from, are referred to as Zang (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zàng) although the geographical term Xīzàng is often limited to the Tibet Autonomous Region. The term Xīzàng was coined during the Qing dynasty in the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor (1796–1820) through the addition of a prefix meaning "west" (西 ) to Zang.

The best-known medieval Chinese name for Tibet is Tubo (Chinese: 吐蕃 also written as 土蕃 or 土番; pinyin: Tǔbō or Tǔfān). This name first appears in Chinese characters as 土番 in the 7th century (Li Tai) and as 吐蕃 in the 10th-century (Old Book of Tang describing 608–609 emissaries from Tibetan King Namri Songtsen to Emperor Yang of Sui). In the Middle Chinese spoken during that period, as reconstructed by William H. Baxter, 土番 was pronounced thux-phjon and 吐蕃 was pronounced thux-pjon (with the x representing tone).[11]

Other pre-modern Chinese names for Tibet include Wusiguo (Chinese: 烏斯國; pinyin: Wūsīguó; cf. Tibetan dbus, Ü, [wyʔ˨˧˨]), Wusizang (Chinese: 烏斯藏; pinyin: wūsīzàng, cf. Tibetan dbus-gtsang, Ü-Tsang), Tubote (Chinese: 圖伯特; pinyin: Túbótè), and Tanggute (Chinese: 唐古忒; pinyin: Tánggǔtè, cf. Tangut). American Tibetologist Elliot Sperling has argued in favor of a recent tendency by some authors writing in Chinese to revive the term Tubote (simplified Chinese: 图伯特; traditional Chinese: 圖伯特; pinyin: Túbótè) for modern use in place of Xizang, on the grounds that Tubote more clearly includes the entire Tibetan plateau rather than simply the Tibet Autonomous Region.[12]

The English word Tibet or Thibet dates back to the 18th century.[13] Historical linguists generally agree that "Tibet" names in European languages are loanwords from Semitic Ṭībat orTūbātt (طيبة، توبات) (טובּה, טובּת), itself deriving from Turkic Töbäd, literally: "The Heights" (plural of töbän).[14]

Language

Linguists generally classify the Tibetan language as a Tibeto-Burman language of the Sino-Tibetan language family although the boundaries between 'Tibetan' and certain other Himalayan languages can be unclear. According to Matthew Kapstein:

From the perspective of historical linguistics, Tibetan most closely resembles Burmese among the major languages of Asia. Grouping these two together with other apparently related languages spoken in the Himalayan lands, as well as in the highlands of Southeast Asia and the Sino-Tibetan frontier regions, linguists have generally concluded that there exists a Tibeto-Burman family of languages. More controversial is the theory that the Tibeto-Burman family is itself part of a larger language family, called Sino-Tibetan, and that through it Tibetan and Burmese are distant cousins of Chinese.[15]

People of Tibet46
Tibetan family in Kham attending a horse festival

The language has numerous regional dialects which are generally not mutually intelligible. It is employed throughout the Tibetan plateau and Bhutan and is also spoken in parts of Nepal and northern India, such as Sikkim. In general, the dialects of central Tibet (including Lhasa), Kham, Amdo and some smaller nearby areas are considered Tibetan dialects. Other forms, particularly Dzongkha, Sikkimese, Sherpa, and Ladakhi, are considered by their speakers, largely for political reasons, to be separate languages. However, if the latter group of Tibetan-type languages are included in the calculation, then 'greater Tibetan' is spoken by approximately 6 million people across the Tibetan Plateau. Tibetan is also spoken by approximately 150,000 exile speakers who have fled from modern-day Tibet to India and other countries.

Although spoken Tibetan varies according to the region, the written language, based on Classical Tibetan, is consistent throughout. This is probably due to the long-standing influence of the Tibetan empire, whose rule embraced (and extended at times far beyond) the present Tibetan linguistic area, which runs from northern Pakistan in the west to Yunnan and Sichuan in the east, and from north of Qinghai Lake south as far as Bhutan. The Tibetan language has its own script which it shares with Ladakhi and Dzongkha, and which is derived from the ancient Indian Brāhmī script.[16]

Starting in 2001, the local deaf sign languages of Tibet were standardized, and Tibetan Sign Language is now being promoted across the country.

The first Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar book was written by Alexander Csoma de Kőrös in 1834.[17]

History

Madhya pradesh, epoca candella, tirthankara rishabhanatha, x-xi sec
Rishabhanatha, the founder of Jainism attained nirvana near Mount Kailash in Tibet.[18]

Early history

Humans inhabited the Tibetan Plateau at least 21,000 years ago.[19] This population was largely replaced around 3,000 BP by Neolithic immigrants from northern China, but there is a partial genetic continuity between the Paleolithic inhabitants and contemporary Tibetan populations.[19]

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.[20] Zhang Zhung is considered to be the original home of the Bön religion.[21] 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.[22] He was assassinated and Zhang Zhung continued its dominance of the region until it was annexed by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. Prior to Songtsen Gampo, the kings of Tibet were more mythological than factual, and there is insufficient evidence of their existence.[23]

Tibetan Empire

Tibetan empire greatest extent 780s-790s CE
Map of the Tibetan Empire at its greatest extent between the 780s and the 790s CE

The history of a unified Tibet begins with the rule of Songtsen Gampo (604–650 CE), who united parts of the Yarlung River Valley and founded the Tibetan Empire. He also brought in many reforms, and Tibetan power spread rapidly, creating a large and powerful empire. It is traditionally considered that his first wife was the Princess of Nepal, Bhrikuti, and that she played a great role in the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. In 640 he married Princess Wencheng, the niece of the powerful Chinese emperor Taizong of Tang China.[24]

Under the next few Tibetan kings, Buddhism became established as the state religion and Tibetan power increased even further over large areas of Central Asia, while major inroads were made into Chinese territory, even reaching the Tang's capital Chang'an (modern Xi'an) in late 763.[25] However, the Tibetan occupation of Chang'an only lasted for fifteen days, after which they were defeated by Tang and its ally, the Turkic Uyghur Khaganate.

The Kingdom of Nanzhao (in Yunnan and neighbouring regions) remained under Tibetan control from 750 to 794, when they turned on their Tibetan overlords and helped the Chinese inflict a serious defeat on the Tibetans.[26]

In 747, the hold of Tibet was loosened by the campaign of general Gao Xianzhi, who tried to re-open the direct communications between Central Asia and Kashmir. By 750, the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian possessions to the Chinese. However, after Gao Xianzhi's defeat by the Arabs and Qarluqs at the Battle of Talas (751) and the subsequent civil war known as the An Lushan Rebellion (755), Chinese influence decreased rapidly and Tibetan influence resumed.

At its height in the 780's to 790's the Tibetan Empire reached its highest glory when it ruled and controlled a territory stretching from modern day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.

In 821/822 CE Tibet and China signed a peace treaty. A bilingual account of this treaty, including details of the borders between the two countries, is inscribed on a stone pillar which stands outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa.[27] Tibet continued as a Central Asian empire until the mid-9th century, when a civil war over succession led to the collapse of imperial Tibet. The period that followed is known traditionally as the Era of Fragmentation, when political control over Tibet became divided between regional warlords and tribes with no dominant centralized authority. An Islamic invasion from Bengal took place in 1206.

Yuan dynasty

Yuen Dynasty 1294 - Goryeo as vassal
The Mongol Yuan dynasty, c. 1294.

The Mongol Yuan dynasty, through the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs, or Xuanzheng Yuan, ruled Tibet through a top-level administrative department. One of the department's purposes was to select a dpon-chen ('great administrator'), usually appointed by the lama and confirmed by the Mongol emperor in Beijing.[28] The Sakya lama retained a degree of autonomy, acting as the political authority of the region, while the dpon-chen held administrative and military power. Mongol rule of Tibet remained separate from the main provinces of China, but the region existed under the administration of the Yuan dynasty. If the Sakya lama ever came into conflict with the dpon-chen, the dpon-chen had the authority to send Chinese troops into the region.[28]

Tibet retained nominal power over religious and regional political affairs, while the Mongols managed a structural and administrative[29] rule over the region, reinforced by the rare military intervention. This existed as a "diarchic structure" under the Yuan emperor, with power primarily in favor of the Mongols.[28] Mongolian prince Khuden gained temporal power in Tibet in the 1240s and sponsored Sakya Pandita, whose seat became the capital of Tibet. Drogön Chögyal Phagpa, Sakya Pandita's nephew became Imperial Preceptor of Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty.

Yuan control over the region ended with the Ming overthrow of the Yuan and Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen's revolt against the Mongols.[30] Following the uprising, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen founded the Phagmodrupa Dynasty, and sought to reduce Yuan influences over Tibetan culture and politics.[31]

Phagmodrupa, Rinpungpa and Tsangpa Dynasties

Between 1346 and 1354, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen toppled the Sakya and founded the Phagmodrupa Dynasty. The following 80 years saw the founding of the Gelug school (also known as Yellow Hats) by the disciples of Je Tsongkhapa, and the founding of the important Ganden, Drepung and Sera monasteries near Lhasa. However, internal strife within the dynasty and the strong localism of the various fiefs and political-religious factions led to a long series of internal conflicts. The minister family Rinpungpa, based in Tsang (West Central Tibet), dominated politics after 1435. In 1565 they were overthrown by the Tsangpa Dynasty of Shigatse which expanded its power in different directions of Tibet in the following decades and favoured the Karma Kagyu sect.

Rise of Ganden Phodrang

Khoshut Khanate
The Khoshut Khanate, 1642–1717.
CEM-44-La-Chine-la-Tartarie-Chinoise-et-le-Thibet-1734-2568
Tibet in 1734. Royaume de Thibet ("Kingdom of Tibet") in la Chine, la Tartarie Chinoise, et le Thibet ("China, Chinese Tartary, and Tibet") on a 1734 map by Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville, based on earlier Jesuit maps.
Qing china
Tibet in 1892 during the Qing dynasty.

In 1578, Altan Khan of the Tümed Mongols gave Sonam Gyatso, a high lama of the Gelugpa school, the name Dalai Lama, Dalai being the Mongolian translation of the Tibetan name Gyatso "Ocean".[32]

The 5th 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 Güshi Khan, the Oirat leader of the Khoshut Khanate. With Güshi 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. This Tibetan regime or government is also referred to as the Ganden Phodrang.

Qing dynasty

布达拉宫
Potala Palace

Qing dynasty rule in Tibet began with their 1720 expedition to the country when they expelled the invading Dzungars. Amdo came under Qing control in 1724, and eastern Kham was incorporated into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728.[33] Meanwhile, the Qing government sent resident commissioners called Ambans to Lhasa. In 1750 the Ambans and the majority of the Han Chinese and Manchus living in Lhasa were killed in a riot, and Qing troops arrived quickly and suppressed the rebels in the next year. Like the preceding Yuan dynasty, the Manchus of the Qing dynasty exerted military and administrative control of the region, while granting it a degree of political autonomy. The Qing commander publicly executed a number of supporters of the rebels and, as in 1723 and 1728, made changes in the political structure and drew up a formal organization plan. The Qing now restored the Dalai Lama as ruler, leading the governing council called Kashag,[34] but elevated the role of Ambans to include more direct involvement in Tibetan internal affairs. At the same time the Qing took steps to counterbalance the power of the aristocracy by adding officials recruited from the clergy to key posts.[35]

For several decades, peace reigned in Tibet, but in 1792 the Qing Qianlong Emperor sent a large Chinese army into Tibet to push the invading Nepalese out. This prompted yet another Qing reorganization of the Tibetan government, this time through a written plan called the "Twenty-Nine Regulations for Better Government in Tibet". Qing military garrisons staffed with Qing troops were now also established near the Nepalese border.[36] Tibet was dominated by the Manchus in various stages in the 18th century, and the years immediately following the 1792 regulations were the peak of the Qing imperial commissioners' authority; but there was no attempt to make Tibet a Chinese province.[37]

In 1834 the Sikh Empire invaded and annexed Ladakh, a culturally Tibetan region that was an independent kingdom at the time. Seven years later a Sikh army led by General Zorawar Singh invaded western Tibet from Ladakh, starting the Sino-Sikh War. A Qing-Tibetan army repelled the invaders but was in turn defeated when it chased the Sikhs into Ladakh. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Chushul between the Chinese and Sikh empires.[38]

Putuo Zongcheng Temple
Putuo Zongcheng Temple, a Buddhist temple complex built between 1767 and 1771. The temple was modeled after the Potala Palace.

As the Qing dynasty weakened, its authority over Tibet also gradually declined, and by the mid-19th century its influence was minuscule. Qing authority over Tibet had become more symbolic than real by the late 19th century,[39][40][41][42] although in the 1860s the Tibetans still chose for reasons of their own to emphasize the empire's symbolic authority and make it seem substantial.[43]

This period also saw some contacts with Jesuits and Capuchins from Europe, and in 1774 a Scottish nobleman, George Bogle, came to Shigatse to investigate prospects of trade for the British East India Company.[44] However, in the 19th century the situation of foreigners in Tibet grew more tenuous. The British Empire was encroaching from northern India into the Himalayas, the Emirate of Afghanistan and the Russian Empire were expanding into Central Asia and each power became suspicious of the others' intentions in Tibet.

In 1904, a British expedition to Tibet, spurred in part by a fear that Russia was extending its power into Tibet as part of The Great Game, invaded the country, hoping that negotiations with the 13th Dalai Lama would be more effective than with Chinese representatives.[45] When the British-led invasion reached Tibet on December 12, 1903, an armed confrontation with the ethnic Tibetans resulted in the Massacre of Chumik Shenko, which resulted in 600 fatalities amongst the Tibetan forces, compared to only 12 on the British side.[46][47] Afterwards, in 1904 Francis Younghusband imposed a treaty known as the Treaty of Lhasa, which was subsequently repudiated and was succeeded by a 1906 treaty[48] signed between Britain and China.

In 1910, the Qing government sent a military expedition of its own under Zhao Erfeng to establish direct Manchu-Chinese rule and, in an imperial edict, deposed the Dalai Lama, who fled to British India. Zhao Erfeng defeated the Tibetan military conclusively and expelled the Dalai Lama's forces from the province. His actions were unpopular, and there was much animosity against him for his mistreatment of civilians and disregard for local culture.

Post-Qing period

Bundesarchiv Bild 135-S-12-50-09, Tibetexpedition, Ragyapas, Geier
Rogyapas, an outcast group, early 20th century. Their hereditary occupation included disposal of corpses and leather work.

After the Xinhai Revolution (1911–12) toppled the Qing dynasty and the last Qing troops were escorted out of Tibet, the new Republic of China apologized for the actions of the Qing and offered to restore the Dalai Lama's title.[49] The Dalai Lama refused any Chinese title and declared himself ruler of an independent Tibet.[50] In 1913, Tibet and Mongolia concluded a treaty of mutual recognition.[51] For the next 36 years, the 13th Dalai Lama and the regents who succeeded him governed Tibet. During this time, Tibet fought Chinese warlords for control of the ethnically Tibetan areas in Xikang and Qinghai (parts of Kham and Amdo) along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.[52] In 1914 the Tibetan government signed the Simla Accord with Britain, ceding the South Tibet region to British India. The Chinese government denounced the agreement as illegal.[53][54]

When in the 1930s and 1940s the regents displayed negligence in affairs, the Kuomintang Government of the Republic of China took advantage of this to expand its reach into the territory.[55]

From 1950 to present

Emerging with control over most of mainland China after the Chinese Civil War, the People's Republic of China incorporated Tibet in 1950 and negotiated the Seventeen Point Agreement with the newly enthroned 14th Dalai Lama's government, affirming the People's Republic of China's sovereignty but granting the area autonomy. Subsequently, on his journey into exile, the 14th Dalai Lama completely repudiated the agreement, which he has repeated on many occasions.[56][57] The Chinese used the Dalai Lama to be able to have control of the military's training and actions.[58]

The Dalai Lama had a strong following as many people from Tibet looked at him as their leader from not just a political point of view but, also from a spiritual perspective.[59] After the Dalai Lama's government fled to Dharamsala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, it established a rival government-in-exile. Afterwards, the Central People's Government in Beijing renounced the agreement and began implementation of the halted social and political reforms.[60] During the Great Leap Forward, between 200,000 and 1,000,000 Tibetans died,[61] and approximately 6,000 monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, thus the vast majority of historic Tibetan architecture was destroyed.[62] In 1962 China and India fought a brief war over the disputed South Tibet and Aksai Chin regions. Although China won the war, Chinese troops withdrew north of the McMahon Line, effectively ceding South Tibet to India.[54]

In 1980, General Secretary and reformist Hu Yaobang visited Tibet and ushered in a period of social, political, and economic liberalization.[63] At the end of the decade, however, before the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, monks in the Drepung and Sera monasteries started protesting for independence, and so the government halted reforms and started an anti-separatist campaign.[63] Human rights organisations have been critical of the Beijing and Lhasa governments' approach to human rights in the region when cracking down on separatist convulsions that have occurred around monasteries and cities, most recently in the 2008 Tibetan unrest.

Geography

TibetanPlateau
Tibet is located on the Tibetan Plateau, the world's highest region.
拷贝 (70097727).jpeg
Himalayas, on the southern rim of the Tibetan plateau

All of modern China, including Tibet, is considered a part of East Asia.[64] Historically, some European sources also considered parts of Tibet to lie in Central Asia. Tibet is west of the Central China plain, and within mainland China, Tibet is regarded as part of 西部 (Xībù), a term usually translated by Chinese media as "the Western section", meaning "Western China".

Asia terrain
Tibet is often called the "roof of the world, because it is a very high plateau.
Tibet and surrounding areas topographic map 3
Tibetan Plateau and surrounding areas above 1600 m – topography.[65][66]

Tibet has some of the world's tallest mountains, with several of them making the top ten list. Mount Everest, located on the border with Nepal, is, at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), the highest mountain on earth. Several major rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau (mostly in present-day Qinghai Province). These include the Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus River, Mekong, Ganges, Salween and the Yarlung Tsangpo River (Brahmaputra River).[67] The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, along the Yarlung Tsangpo River, is among the deepest and longest canyons in the world.

Tibet has been called the "Water Tower" of Asia, and China is investing heavily in water projects in Tibet.[68][69]

The Indus and Brahmaputra rivers originate from a lake (Tib: Tso Mapham) in Western Tibet, near Mount Kailash. The mountain is a holy pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Tibetans. The Hindus consider the mountain to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The Tibetan name for Mt. Kailash is Khang Rinpoche. Tibet has numerous high-altitude lakes referred to in Tibetan as tso or co. These include Qinghai Lake, Lake Manasarovar, Namtso, Pangong Tso, Yamdrok Lake, Siling Co, Lhamo La-tso, Lumajangdong Co, Lake Puma Yumco, Lake Paiku, Como Chamling, Lake Rakshastal, Dagze Co and Dong Co. The Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) is the largest lake in the People's Republic of China.

The atmosphere is severely dry nine months of the year, and average annual snowfall is only 18 inches (46 cm), due to the rain shadow effect. Western passes receive small amounts of fresh snow each year but remain traversible all year round. Low temperatures are prevalent throughout these western regions, where bleak desolation is unrelieved by any vegetation bigger than a low bush, and where wind sweeps unchecked across vast expanses of arid plain. The Indian monsoon exerts some influence on eastern Tibet. Northern Tibet is subject to high temperatures in the summer and intense cold in the winter.

Cultural Tibet consists of several regions. These include Amdo (A mdo) in the northeast, which is administratively part of the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Kham (Khams) in the southeast encompasses parts of western Sichuan, northern Yunnan, southern Qinghai and the eastern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Ü-Tsang (dBus gTsang) (Ü in the center, Tsang in the center-west, and Ngari (mNga' ris) in the far west) covered the central and western portion of Tibet Autonomous Region.[70]

Tibetan cultural influences extend to the neighboring states of Bhutan, Nepal, regions of India such as Sikkim, Ladakh, Lahaul, and Spiti, Northern Pakistan Baltistan or Balti-yul in addition to designated Tibetan autonomous areas in adjacent Chinese provinces.

Cities, towns and villages

Jokhang Temple Lhasa Tibet China 西藏 拉萨 大昭寺 - panoramio (6)
Looking across the square at Jokhang temple, Lhasa

There are over 800 settlements in Tibet. Lhasa is Tibet's traditional capital and the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. It contains two world heritage sites – the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, which were the residences of the Dalai Lama. Lhasa contains a number of significant temples and monasteries, including Jokhang and Ramoche Temple.

Shigatse is the second largest city in the Tibet AR, west of Lhasa. Gyantse and Qamdo are also amongst the largest.

Other cities and towns in cultural Tibet include Shiquanhe (Ali), Nagchu, Bamda, Rutog, Nyingchi, Nedong, Coqên, Barkam, Sakya, Gartse, Pelbar, Lhatse, and Tingri; in Sichuan, Kangding (Dartsedo); in Qinghai, Jyekundo (Yushu), Machen, and Golmud; in India, Tawang, Leh, and Gangtok, and in Pakistan, Skardu, Kharmang, and Khaplu.

Government

The central region of Tibet is an autonomous region within China, the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Tibet Autonomous Region is a province-level entity of the People's Republic of China. It is governed by a People's Government, led by a Chairman. In practice, however, the Chairman is subordinate to the branch secretary of the Communist Party of China. As a matter of convention, the Chairman has almost always been an ethnic Tibetan, while the party secretary has always been ethnically non-Tibetan.[71]

Economy

Bos grunniens at Yundrok Yumtso Lake
The Tibetan yak is an integral part of Tibetan life

The Tibetan economy is dominated by subsistence agriculture. Due to limited arable land, the primary occupation of the Tibetan Plateau is raising livestock, such as sheep, cattle, goats, camels, yaks, dzo, and horses.

The dogs of Tibet are twice the size of those seen in India, with large heads and hairy bodies. They are powerful animals, and are said to be able to kill a tiger. During the day they are kept chained up, and are let loose at night to guard their masters' house.[72]

The main crops grown are barley, wheat, buckwheat, rye, potatoes, and assorted fruits and vegetables. Tibet is ranked the lowest among China's 31 provinces[73] on the Human Development Index according to UN Development Programme data.[74] In recent years, due to increased interest in Tibetan Buddhism, tourism has become an increasingly important sector, and is actively promoted by the authorities.[75] Tourism brings in the most income from the sale of handicrafts. These include Tibetan hats, jewelry (silver and gold), wooden items, clothing, quilts, fabrics, Tibetan rugs and carpets. The Central People's Government exempts Tibet from all taxation and provides 90% of Tibet's government expenditures.[76][77][78][79] However most of this investment goes to pay migrant workers who do not settle in Tibet and send much of their income home to other provinces.[80]

Nomads near Namtso
Pastoral nomads constitute about 40% of the ethnic Tibetan population.[81]

40% of the rural cash income in the Tibet Autonomous Region is derived from the harvesting of the fungus Ophiocordyceps sinensis (formerly Cordyceps sinensis); contributing at least 1.8 billion yuan, (US$225 million) to the region's GDP. [82]

Tromzikhang 2018 01
Tromzikhang market in Lhasa

The Qingzang railway linking the Tibet Autonomous Region to Qinghai Province was opened in 2006, but not without controversy.[83][84][85]

In January 2007, the Chinese government issued a report outlining the discovery of a large mineral deposit under the Tibetan Plateau.[86] The deposit has an estimated value of $128 billion and may double Chinese reserves of zinc, copper, and lead. The Chinese government sees this as a way to alleviate the nation's dependence on foreign mineral imports for its growing economy. However, critics worry that mining these vast resources will harm Tibet's fragile ecosystem and undermine Tibetan culture.[86]

On January 15, 2009, China announced the construction of Tibet's first expressway, a 37.9 km (23.5 mi) stretch of controlled-access highway in southwestern Lhasa. The project will cost 1.55 billion yuan (US$227 million).[87]

From January 18–20, 2010 a national conference on Tibet and areas inhabited by Tibetans in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai was held in China and a substantial plan to improve development of the areas was announced. The conference was attended by General secretary Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, all members of CPC Politburo Standing Committee signaling the commitment of senior Chinese leaders to development of Tibet and ethnic Tibetan areas. The plan calls for improvement of rural Tibetan income to national standards by 2020 and free education for all rural Tibetan children. China has invested 310 billion yuan (about 45.6 billion U.S. dollars) in Tibet since 2001. "Tibet's GDP was expected to reach 43.7 billion yuan in 2009, up 170 percent from that in 2000 and posting an annual growth of 12.3 percent over the past nine years."[88]

Development zone

The State Council approved Tibet Lhasa Economic and Technological Development Zone as a state-level development zone in 2001. It is located in the western suburbs of Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is 50 kilometres (31 miles) away from the Gonggar Airport, and 2 km (1.2 mi) away from Lhasa Railway Station and 2 km (1.2 mi) away from 318 national highway.

The zone has a planned area of 5.46 km2 (2.11 sq mi) and is divided into two zones. Zone A developed a land area of 2.51 km2 (0.97 sq mi) for construction purposes. It is a flat zone, and has the natural conditions for good drainage.[89]

Demographics

Tibetan "Lamanis"
Tibetan Lamanis, c. 1905
IMG 0996 Lhasa Barkhor
An elderly Tibetan woman in Lhasa

Historically, the population of Tibet consisted of primarily ethnic Tibetans and some other ethnic groups. According to tradition the original ancestors of the Tibetan people, as represented by the six red bands in the Tibetan flag, are: the Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra. Other traditional ethnic groups with significant population or with the majority of the ethnic group residing in Tibet (excluding a disputed area with India) include Bai people, Blang, Bonan, Dongxiang, Han, Hui people, Lhoba, Lisu people, Miao, Mongols, Monguor (Tu people), Menba (Monpa), Mosuo, Nakhi, Qiang, Nu people, Pumi, Salar, and Yi people.

The proportion of the non-Tibetan population in Tibet is disputed. On the one hand, the Central Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama accuses China of actively swamping Tibet with migrants in order to alter Tibet's demographic makeup.[90] On the other hand, according to the 2010 Chinese census ethnic Tibetans comprise 90% of a total population of 3 million in the Tibet Autonomous Region.[91] Exact population numbers probably depend on how temporary migrants are counted.

Culture

Religion

Buddhism

Young monks of Drepung
Buddhist monks practicing debate in Drepung Monastery
Phugtal col
The Phugtal Monastery in south-east Zanskar

Religion is extremely important to the Tibetans and has a strong influence over all aspects of their lives. Bön is the indigenous religion of Tibet, but has been almost eclipsed by Tibetan Buddhism, a distinctive form of Mahayana and Vajrayana, which was introduced into Tibet from the Sanskrit Buddhist tradition of northern India.[92] Tibetan Buddhism is practiced not only in Tibet but also in Mongolia, parts of northern India, the Buryat Republic, the Tuva Republic, and in the Republic of Kalmykia and some other parts of China. During China's Cultural Revolution, nearly all Tibet's monasteries were ransacked and destroyed by the Red Guards.[93][94][95] A few monasteries have begun to rebuild since the 1980s (with limited support from the Chinese government) and greater religious freedom has been granted – although it is still limited. Monks returned to monasteries across Tibet and monastic education resumed even though the number of monks imposed is strictly limited.[93][96][97] Before the 1950s, between 10 and 20% of males in Tibet were monks.[98]

Tibetan Buddhism has five main traditions (the suffix pa is comparable to "er" in English):

  • Gelug(pa), Way of Virtue, also known casually as Yellow Hat, whose spiritual head is the Ganden Tripa and whose temporal head is the Dalai Lama. Successive Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet from the mid-17th to mid-20th centuries. This order was founded in the 14th to 15th centuries by Je Tsongkhapa, based on the foundations of the Kadampa tradition. Tsongkhapa was renowned for both his scholasticism and his virtue. The Dalai Lama belongs to the Gelugpa school, and is regarded as the embodiment of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.[99]
  • Kagyu(pa), Oral Lineage. This contains one major subsect and one minor subsect. The first, the Dagpo Kagyu, encompasses those Kagyu schools that trace back to Gampopa. In turn, the Dagpo Kagyu consists of four major sub-sects: the Karma Kagyu, headed by a Karmapa, the Tsalpa Kagyu, the Barom Kagyu, and Pagtru Kagyu. The once-obscure Shangpa Kagyu, which was famously represented by the 20th-century teacher Kalu Rinpoche, traces its history back to the Indian master Niguma, sister of Kagyu lineage holder Naropa. This is an oral tradition which is very much concerned with the experiential dimension of meditation. Its most famous exponent was Milarepa, an 11th-century mystic.
  • Nyingma(pa), The Ancient Ones. This is the oldest, the original order founded by Padmasambhava.
  • Sakya(pa), Grey Earth, headed by the Sakya Trizin, founded by Khon Konchog Gyalpo, a disciple of the great translator Drokmi Lotsawa. Sakya Pandita 1182–1251 CE was the great grandson of Khon Konchog Gyalpo. This school emphasizes scholarship.
  • Jonang(pa) Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school. The Jonang school was widely thought to have become extinct in the late 17th century at the hands of the 5th Dalai Lama, who forcibly annexed the Jonang monasteries to his Gelug school, declaring them heretical. Thus, Tibetologists were astonished when fieldwork turned up several active Jonangpa monasteries, including the main monastery, Tsangwa, located in Zamtang County, Sichuan. Almost 40 monasteries, comprising about 5000 monks, have subsequently been found, including some in the Amdo Tibetan and rGyalgrong areas of Qinghai, Sichuan and Tibet. One of the primary supporters of the Jonang lineage in exile has been the 14th Dalai Lama of the Gelugpa lineage. The Jonang tradition has recently officially registered with the Tibetan Government in exile to be recognized as the fifth living Buddhist tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th Dalai Lama assigned Jebtsundamba Khutuktu of Mongolia (who is considered to be an incarnation of Taranatha) as the leader of the Jonang tradition.

Christianity

The first Christians documented to have reached Tibet were the Nestorians, of whom various remains and inscriptions have been found in Tibet. They were also present at the imperial camp of Möngke Khan at Shira Ordo, where they debated in 1256 with Karma Pakshi (1204/6-83), head of the Karma Kagyu order.[100][101] Desideri, who reached Lhasa in 1716, encountered Armenian and Russian merchants.[102]

Roman Catholic Jesuits and Capuchins arrived from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Portuguese missionaries Jesuit Father António de Andrade and Brother Manuel Marques first reached the kingdom of Gelu in western Tibet in 1624 and was welcomed by the royal family who allowed them to build a church later on.[103][104] By 1627, there were about a hundred local converts in the Guge kingdom.[105] Later on, Christianity was introduced to Rudok, Ladakh and Tsang and was welcomed by the ruler of the Tsang kingdom, where Andrade and his fellows established a Jesuit outpost at Shigatse in 1626.[106]

In 1661 another Jesuit, Johann Grueber, crossed Tibet from Sining to Lhasa (where he spent a month), before heading on to Nepal.[107] He was followed by others who actually built a church in Lhasa. These included the Jesuit Father Ippolito Desideri, 1716–1721, who gained a deep knowledge of Tibetan culture, language and Buddhism, and various Capuchins in 1707–1711, 1716–1733 and 1741–1745,[108] Christianity was used by some Tibetan monarchs and their courts and the Karmapa sect lamas to counterbalance the influence of the Gelugpa sect in the 17th century until in 1745 when all the missionaries were expelled at the lama's insistence.[109][110][111][112][113][114]

In 1877, the Protestant James Cameron from the China Inland Mission walked from Chongqing to Batang in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, and "brought the Gospel to the Tibetan people." Beginning in the 20th century, in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, a large number of Lisu people and some Yi and Nu people converted to Christianity. Famous earlier missionaries include James O. Fraser, Alfred James Broomhall and Isobel Kuhn of the China Inland Mission, among others who were active in this area.[115][116]

Proselytising has been illegal in China since 1949. But as of 2013, many Christian missionaries were reported to be active in Tibet with the tacit approval of Chinese authorities, who view the missionaries as a counterforce to Tibetan Buddhism or as a boon to the local economy.[117]

Islam

Muslims have been living in Tibet since as early as the 8th or 9th century. In Tibetan cities, there are small communities of Muslims, known as Kachee (Kache), who trace their origin to immigrants from three main regions: Kashmir (Kachee Yul in ancient Tibetan), Ladakh and the Central Asian Turkic countries. Islamic influence in Tibet also came from Persia. A Muslim Sufi Syed Ali Hamdani preached to the people of Baltistan, then known as little Tibet. Which became main cause of the cultural separation of the people of Baltistan from the mainstream Tibet . After 1959 a group of Tibetan Muslims made a case for Indian nationality based on their historic roots to Kashmir and the Indian government declared all Tibetan Muslims Indian citizens later on that year.[118] Other Muslim ethnic groups who have long inhabited Tibet include Hui, Salar, Dongxiang and Bonan. There is also a well established Chinese Muslim community (gya kachee), which traces its ancestry back to the Hui ethnic group of China.

Tibetan art

Thanka
A thangka painting in Sikkim

Tibetan representations of art are intrinsically bound with Tibetan Buddhism and commonly depict deities or variations of Buddha in various forms from bronze Buddhist statues and shrines, to highly colorful thangka paintings and mandalas.

Architecture

Tibetan architecture contains Chinese and Indian influences, and reflects a deeply Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, can be seen on nearly every Gompa in Tibet. The design of the Tibetan Chörtens can vary, from roundish walls in Kham to squarish, four-sided walls in Ladakh.

The most distinctive feature of Tibetan architecture is that many of the houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south, and are often made out of a mixture of rocks, wood, cement and earth. Little fuel is available for heat or lighting, so flat roofs are built to conserve heat, and multiple windows are constructed to let in sunlight. Walls are usually sloped inwards at 10 degrees as a precaution against the frequent earthquakes in this mountainous area.

Standing at 117 metres (384 feet) in height and 360 metres (1,180 feet) in width, the Potala Palace is the most important example of Tibetan architecture. Formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama, it contains over one thousand rooms within thirteen stories, and houses portraits of the past Dalai Lamas and statues of the Buddha. It is divided between the outer White Palace, which serves as the administrative quarters, and the inner Red Quarters, which houses the assembly hall of the Lamas, chapels, 10,000 shrines, and a vast library of Buddhist scriptures. The Potala Palace is a World Heritage Site, as is Norbulingka, the former summer residence of the Dalai Lama.

Music

The music of Tibet reflects the cultural heritage of the trans-Himalayan region, centered in Tibet but also known wherever ethnic Tibetan groups are found in India, Bhutan, Nepal and further abroad. First and foremost Tibetan music is religious music, reflecting the profound influence of Tibetan Buddhism on the culture.

Tibetan music often involves chanting in Tibetan or Sanskrit, as an integral part of the religion. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts or in celebration of various festivals. Yang chanting, performed without metrical timing, is accompanied by resonant drums and low, sustained syllables. Other styles include those unique to the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the classical music of the popular Gelugpa school, and the romantic music of the Nyingmapa, Sakyapa and Kagyupa schools.[119]

Nangma dance music is especially popular in the karaoke bars of the urban center of Tibet, Lhasa. Another form of popular music is the classical gar style, which is performed at rituals and ceremonies. Lu are a type of songs that feature glottal vibrations and high pitches. There are also epic bards who sing of Gesar, who is a hero to ethnic Tibetans.

Festivals

Tibet has various festivals that are commonly performed to worship the Buddha throughout the year. Losar is the Tibetan New Year Festival. Preparations for the festive event are manifested by special offerings to family shrine deities, painted doors with religious symbols, and other painstaking jobs done to prepare for the event. Tibetans eat Guthuk (barley noodle soup with filling) on New Year's Eve with their families. The Monlam Prayer Festival follows it in the first month of the Tibetan calendar, falling between the fourth and the eleventh days of the first Tibetan month. It involves dancing and participating in sports events, as well as sharing picnics. The event was established in 1049 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama's order.

Cuisine

Thupka with Momo - Tibetan Sytle
Thupka with Momo – Tibetan Style

The most important crop in Tibet is barley, and dough made from barley flour—called tsampa—is the staple food of Tibet. This is either rolled into noodles or made into steamed dumplings called momos. Meat dishes are likely to be yak, goat, or mutton, often dried, or cooked into a spicy stew with potatoes. Mustard seed is cultivated in Tibet, and therefore features heavily in its cuisine. Yak yogurt, butter and cheese are frequently eaten, and well-prepared yogurt is considered something of a prestige item. Butter tea is very popular to drink.

See also

Notes

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  103. ^ Graham Sanderg, The Exploration of Tibet: History and Particulars (Delhi: Cosmo Publications, 1973), pp. 23–26; Thomas Holdich, Tibet, The Mysterious (London: Alston Rivers, 1906), p. 70.
  104. ^ Sir Edward Maclagan, The Jesuits and The Great Mogul (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), pp. 344–345.
  105. ^ Lettera del P. Alano Dos Anjos al Provinciale di Goa, 10 Novembre 1627, quoted from Wu Kunming, Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang Huodongshi (Beijing: Zhongguo Zangxue chubanshe, 1992), p. 163.
  106. ^ Extensively using Italian and Portuguese archival materials, Wu's work gives a detailed account of Cacella's activities in Tsang. See Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang Huodongshi, esp. chapter 5.
  107. ^ Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet, and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa, pp. 295–302. Clements R. Markham. (1876). Reprint Cosmo Publications, New Delhi. 1989.
  108. ^ Stein 1972, p. 85
  109. ^ "When Christianity and Lamaism Met: The Changing Fortunes of Early Western Missionaries in Tibet by Lin Hsiao-ting of Stanford University". Pacificrim.usfca.edu. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  110. ^ "BBC News Country Profiles Timeline: Tibet". November 5, 2009. Archived from the original on March 11, 2009. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
  111. ^ Lettera del P. Antonio de Andrade. Giovanni de Oliveira. Alano Dos Anjos al Provinciale di Goa, 29 Agosto, 1627, quoted from Wu, Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang Huodongshi, p. 196; Maclagan, The Jesuits and The Great Mogul, pp. 347–348.
  112. ^ Cornelius Wessels, Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia, 1603–1721 (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1924), pp. 80–85.
  113. ^ Maclagan, The Jesuits and The Great Mogul, pp. 349–352; Filippo De Filippi ed., An Account of Tibet, pp. 13–17.
  114. ^ Relação da Missão do Reino de Uçangue Cabeça dos do Potente, Escrita pello P. João Cabral da Comp. de Jesu. fol. 1, quoted from Wu, Zaoqi Chuanjiaoshi jin Zang Huodongshi, pp. 294–297; Wang Yonghong, "Luelun Tianzhujiao zai Xizang di Zaoqi Huodong", Xizang Yanjiu, 1989, No. 3, pp. 62–63.
  115. ^ "Yunnan Province of China Government Web". Archived from the original on March 12, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
  116. ^ Kapstein 2006, pp. 31, 206
  117. ^ Kaiman, Jonathan (February 21, 2013). "Going undercover, the evangelists taking Jesus to Tibet". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 26, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  118. ^ Masood Butt, 'Muslims of Tibet' Archived September 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, The Office of Tibet, January/February 1994
  119. ^ Crossley-Holland, Peter. (1976). "The Ritual Music of Tibet." The Tibet Journal. Vol. 1, Nos. 3 & 4, Autumn 1976, pp. 47–53.

References

  • Beckwith, Christopher I. The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia: A History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages' (1987) Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02469-3
  • Goldstein, Melvyn C. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913–1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State (1989) University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-06140-8
    • Goldstein, Melvyn C. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913–1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State (1989), first Indian edition (1993) Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi, ISBN 81-215-0582-8 Pagination is identical to University of California edition.
  • Goldstein, Melvyn C. The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama (1997) University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21951-1
  • Grunfeld, Tom (1996). The Making of Modern Tibet. ISBN 1-56324-713-5.
  • Hopkirk, Peter. Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet (1983) J. P. Tarcher. ISBN 0-87477-257-5
  • Kapstein, Matthew T. The Tibetans (2006) Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-631-22574-4
  • Laird, Thomas. The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama (2006) Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-1827-5
  • Mullin, Glenn H.The Fourteen Dalai Lamas: A Sacred Legacy of Reincarnations (2001) Clear Light Publishers. ISBN 1-57416-092-3
  • Powers, John. History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China (2004) Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517426-7
  • Richardson, Hugh E. Tibet and its History Second Edition, Revised and Updated (1984) Shambhala. ISBN 0-87773-376-7
  • Shakya, Tsering. The Dragon In The Land Of Snows (1999) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11814-7
  • Stein, R. Tibetan Civilization (1972) Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0901-7
  • Teltscher, Kate. The High Road to China: George Bogle, the Panchen Lama and the First British Expedition to Tibet (2006) Bloomsbury UK. ISBN 0-7475-8484-2

Further reading

  • Allen, Charles (2004). Duel in the Snows: The True Story of the Younghusband Mission to Lhasa. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-5427-6.
  • Bell, Charles (1924). Tibet: Past & Present. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Dowman, Keith (1988). The Power-Places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London, ISBN 0-7102-1370-0. New York, ISBN 0-14-019118-6.
  • Feigon, Lee. (1998). Demystifying Tibet: unlocking the secrets of the land of the snows. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-196-3. 1996 hardback, ISBN 1-56663-089-4
  • Gyatso, Palden (1997). The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk. Grove Press. NY, NY. ISBN 0-8021-3574-9
  • Human Rights in China: China, Minority Exclusion, Marginalization and Rising Tensions, London, Minority Rights Group International, 2007
  • Le Sueur, Alec (2013). The Hotel on the Roof of the World – Five Years in Tibet. Chichester: Summersdale. ISBN 978-1-84024-199-0. Oakland: RDR Books. ISBN 978-1-57143-101-1
  • McKay, Alex (1997). Tibet and the British Raj: The Frontier Cadre 1904–1947. London: Curzon. ISBN 0-7007-0627-5.
  • Norbu, Thubten Jigme; Turnbull, Colin (1968). Tibet: Its History, Religion and People. Reprint: Penguin Books (1987).
  • Pachen, Ani; Donnely, Adelaide (2000). Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun. Kodansha America, Inc. ISBN 1-56836-294-3.
  • Petech, Luciano (1997). China and Tibet in the Early XVIIIth Century: History of the Establishment of Chinese Protectorate in Tibet. T'oung Pao Monographies, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-03442-0.
  • Rabgey, Tashi; Sharlho, Tseten Wangchuk (2004). Sino-Tibetan Dialogue in the Post-Mao Era: Lessons and Prospects (PDF). Washington: East-West Center. ISBN 978-1-932728-22-4.
  • Samuel, Geoffrey (1993). Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies. Smithsonian ISBN 1-56098-231-4.
  • Schell, Orville (2000). Virtual Tibet: Searching for Shangri-La from the Himalayas to Hollywood. Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-4381-0.
  • Smith, Warren W. (1996). History of Tibet: Nationalism and Self-determination. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-3155-3.
  • Smith, Warren W. (2004). China's Policy on Tibetan Autonomy – EWC Working Papers No. 2 (PDF). Washington: East-West Center.
  • Smith, Warren W. (2008). China's Tibet?: Autonomy or Assimilation. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7425-3989-1.
  • Sperling, Elliot (2004). The Tibet-China Conflict: History and Polemics (PDF). Washington: East-West Center. ISBN 978-1-932728-13-2. ISSN 1547-1330. – (online version)
  • Thurman, Robert (2002). Robert Thurman on Tibet. DVD. ASIN B00005Y722.
  • Van Walt van Praag, Michael C. (1987). The Status of Tibet: History, Rights, and Prospects in International Law. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.
  • Wilby, Sorrel (1988). Journey Across Tibet: A Young Woman's 1,900-mile (3,060 km) Trek Across the Rooftop of the World. Contemporary Books. ISBN 0-8092-4608-2.
  • Wilson, Brandon (2004). Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith. Pilgrim's Tales. ISBN 0-9770536-6-0, ISBN 0-9770536-7-9. (second edition 2005)
  • Wang Jiawei (2000). The Historical Status of China's Tibet. ISBN 7-80113-304-8.
  • Tibet wasn't always ours, says Chinese scholar by Venkatesan Vembu, Daily News & Analysis, February 22, 2007
  • Wylie, Turrell V. "The First Mongol Conquest of Tibet Reinterpreted", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 37, Number 1, June 1977)
  • Zenz, Adrian (2014). Tibetanness under Threat? Neo-Integrationism, Minority Education and Career Strategies in Qinghai, P.R. China. Global Oriental. ISBN 9789004257962.

External links

14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama, religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso; born Lhamo Thondup, (6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was formally headed by the Ganden Tripas. From the time of the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties.The 14th Dalai Lama was born in Taktser, Amdo, Tibet, and was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939. His enthronement ceremony as the Dalai Lama was held in Lhasa on 22 February 1940, and he eventually assumed full temporal (political) duties on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, after the People's Republic of China's incorporation of Tibet. The Gelug school's government administered an area roughly corresponding to the Tibet Autonomous Region just as the nascent PRC wished to assert control over it.

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he currently lives as a refugee. He has traveled the world and has spoken about the welfare of Tibetans, environment, economics, women's rights, non-violence, interfaith dialogue, physics, astronomy, Buddhism and science, cognitive neuroscience, reproductive health, and sexuality, along with various topics of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist teachings. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, Time magazine named him one of the "Children of Mahatma Gandhi" and his spiritual heir to nonviolence.

1959 Tibetan uprising

The 1959 Tibetan uprising or the 1959 Tibetan rebellion began on 10 March 1959, when a revolt erupted in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Area, which had been under the effective control of the People's Republic of China since the Seventeen Point Agreement was reached in 1951. Armed conflict between Tibetan guerillas and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had started in 1956 in the Kham and Amdo regions, which had been subjected to socialist reform. The guerrilla warfare later spread to other areas of Tibet and lasted through 1962.

The anniversary of the uprising is observed by Tibetan exiles as the ''Tibetan Uprising Day'' and Woman's Uprising Day. The anniversary of its end is officially celebrated in the Tibetan Autonomous Region as Serfs Emancipation Day.

Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh (, "the land of dawn-lit mountains") is one of the 29 states of India and is the northeastern-most state of the country. Arunachal Pradesh borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east and is separated from China in the north by the McMahon Line. Itanagar is the capital of the state.

A major part of the state is claimed by the Republic of China, and the People's Republic of China refer to it as "South Tibet". During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Chinese forces temporarily crossed the McMahon line, the border line between the state and China.Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains is the sobriquet for the state in Sanskrit; it is also known as the Orchid State of India or the Paradise of the Botanists. Geographically, it is the largest of the Seven Sister States of Northeast India.

Battle of Chamdo

The Battle of Chamdo (or Qamdo; Chinese: 昌都战役) occurred from 6 through 19 October 1950. It was a military campaign by the People's Republic of China (PRC) to retake the Chamdo Region from a de facto independent Tibetan government after months of failed negotiations on the status of Tibet. At the time, most countries of the world, as well as the United Nations, recognized Tibet as a part of the preceding Republic of China (ROC). The campaign aimed not to invade Tibet per se but to capture the Lhasa army occupying Chamdo, demoralize the Lhasa government, and to exert pressure to get Tibetan representatives to agree to negotiations in Beijing and sign terms recognizing China's sovereignty over Tibet. The campaign resulted in the capture of Chamdo and further negotiations between the PRC and Tibetan representatives that eventually resulted in the incorporation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China.

Bon

Bon, also spelled Bön (Tibetan: བོན་, Wylie: bon, Lhasa dialect IPA: pʰø̃̀), is a Tibetan religion. According to traditional Bon beliefs and legends, the Bon religion predates the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet. According to the scholar and Buddhist master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, there is clear manuscript evidence confirming the existence of fully articulated Bon doctrine and practice prior to the forcible annexation of the Bon kingdom of Zhangzhung in the 8th century CE by Tibetan king Trisong Deutsung: "It is very clearly stated in the ancient lineage-manuscripts of Bon, known as Srid-rGyud, during the reign of the Buddhist King Trisong Deutsen, that the tradition of Bon and its founder both first started [centuries earlier] in Zhangzhung." [This is disputed by some subsequent Buddhist commentators, e.g., by Sam van Schaik, "in truth the 'old religion' was a new religion." Its scriptures are derived primarily from termas (hidden teachings) and visions by tertöns (discoverers of hidden teachings) such as Loden Nyingpo..]

Brahmaputra River

The Brahmaputra () is one of the major rivers of Asia, a trans-boundary river which flows through China, India and Bangladesh. As such, it is known by various names in the region: Assamese: লুইত luit [luɪt], ব্ৰহ্মপুত্ৰ নৈ Brohmoputro noi, ব্ৰহ্মপুত্ৰ নদ (the tatsama 'নদ' nod, masculine form of the tatsama 'নদী' nodi "river") Brohmoputro [bɹɔɦmɔputɹɔ]; Sanskrit: ब्रह्मपुत्र, IAST: Brahmaputra; Tibetan: ཡར་ཀླུངས་གཙང་པོ་, Wylie: yar klung gtsang po Yarlung Tsangpo; simplified Chinese: 布拉马普特拉河; traditional Chinese: 布拉馬普特拉河; pinyin: Bùlāmǎpǔtèlā Hé. It is also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra (when referring to the whole river including the stretch within Tibet). The Manas River, which runs through Bhutan, joins it at Jogighopa, in India. It is the ninth largest river in the world by discharge, and the 15th longest.

With its origin in the Manasarovar Lake region, located on the northern side of the Himalayas in Burang County of Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo River, it flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges (including the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon) and into Arunachal Pradesh (India). It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna (not to be mistaken with Yamuna of India). In the vast Ganges Delta, it merges with the Padma, the popular name of the river Ganges in Bangladesh, and finally the Meghna and from here it is known as Meghna before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.About 2,899.9 km (1,801.9 mi) long, the Brahmaputra is an important river for irrigation and transportation. The average depth of the river is 38 m (124 ft) and maximum depth is 120 m (380 ft). The river is prone to catastrophic flooding in the spring when Himalayas snow melts. The average discharge of the river is about 19,800 m3/s (700,000 cu ft/s), and floods can reach over 100,000 m3/s (3,500,000 cu ft/s). It is a classic example of a braided river and is highly susceptible to channel migration and avulsion. It is also one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit a tidal bore. It is navigable for most of its length.

The river drains the Himalaya east of the Indo-Nepal border, south-central portion of the Tibetan plateau above the Ganga basin, south-eastern portion of Tibet, the Patkai-Bum hills, the northern slopes of the Meghalaya hills, the Assam plains, and the northern portion of Bangladesh. The basin, especially south of Tibet, is characterized by high levels of rainfall. Kangchenjunga (8,586 m) is the only peak above 8,000 m, hence is the highest point within the Brahmaputra basin.

The Brahmaputra's upper course was long unknown, and its identity with the Yarlung Tsangpo was only established by exploration in 1884–86. This river is often called the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river.

The lower reaches are sacred to Hindus. While most rivers on the Indian subcontinent have female names, this river has a rare male name, as it means "son of Brahma" in Sanskrit (putra means "son").

Central Tibetan Administration

The Central Tibetan Administration, also known as CTA (Tibetan: བོད་མིའི་སྒྲིག་འཛུགས་, Wylie: bod mi'i sgrig 'dzugs, THL: Bömi Drikdzuk, Tibetan pronunciation: [pʰỳmìː ʈìʔt͡sùʔ], literally Exile Tibetan People's Organisation) is an organisation based in India. It was originally called Tibetan Kashag Government in 1960, then later renamed to "the Government of the Great Snow Land". The CTA is also referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile which has never been recognized by China. Its internal structure is government-like; it has stated that it is "not designed to take power in Tibet"; rather, it will be dissolved "as soon as freedom is restored in Tibet" in favor of a government formed by Tibetans inside Tibet. In addition to political advocacy, it administers a network of schools and other cultural activities for Tibetans in India. On 11 February 1991, the CTA became a founding member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) at a ceremony held at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama (UK: , US: ; Standard Tibetan: ཏཱ་ལའི་བླ་མ་, Tā la'i bla ma [táːlɛː láma]) is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.

The Dalai Lama is also considered to be the successor in a line of tulkus who are believed to be incarnations of Avalokiteśvara, a Bodhisattva of Compassion. The name is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning "ocean" or "big" (coming from Mongolian title Dalaiyin qan or Dalaiin khan, translated as 'Gyatso' in Tibetan) and the Tibetan word བླ་མ་ (bla-ma) meaning "master, guru".The Dalai Lama figure is important for many reasons. Since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century, his personage has always been a symbol of unification of the state of Tibet, where he has represented Buddhist values and traditions. The Dalai Lama was an important figure of the Geluk tradition, which was politically and numerically dominant in Central Tibet, but his religious authority went beyond sectarian boundaries. While he had no formal or institutional role in any of the religious traditions, which were headed by their own high lamas, he was a unifying symbol of the Tibetan state, representing Buddhist values and traditions above any specific school. The traditional function of the Dalai Lama as an ecumenical figure, holding together disparate religious and regional groups, has been taken up by the present fourteenth Dalai Lama. He has worked to overcome sectarian and other divisions in the exiled community and has become a symbol of Tibetan nationhood for Tibetans both in Tibet and in exile.From 1642 until 1705, and from 1750 to the 1950s, the Dalai Lamas or their regents headed the Tibetan government (or Ganden Phodrang) in Lhasa which governed all or most of the Tibetan Plateau with varying degrees of autonomy under the Qing Dynasty of China, up to complete sovereignty. This Tibetan government also enjoyed the patronage and protection of firstly Mongol kings of the Khoshut and Dzungar Khanates (1642–1720) and then of the emperors of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1720–1912). Tibet's sovereignty was later rejected, however, by both the Republic of China and the current People's Republic of China.

History of Tibet

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 and Mongol cultures and partly because almost all native historians of the country were Buddhist monks.

Ladakh

Ladakh ("land of high passes") is a region in the Indian controlled part of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture.

Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys (now mostly in Pakistan), the entire upper Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, much of Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east, Aksai Chin in the northeast (extending to the Kun Lun Mountains), and the Nubra Valley to the north over Khardong La in the Ladakh Range. Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north.

Aksai Chin is one of the disputed border areas between China and India. It is administered by China as part of Hotan County but is also claimed by India as a part of the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1962, China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control.In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but since the Chinese authorities closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia in the 1960s, international trade has dwindled except for tourism. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. Since Ladakh is a part of strategically important Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region.

The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil. The government of Jammu and Kashmir created a separate administrative division from Kashmir division with headquarters at Leh. Tibetan Buddhists (39.7%) and Hindus (12.1%) collectively represent the majority of the population while a plurality of Ladakhis (46.4%) are Muslims (mainly Shia). Other religious groups include Sikhs etc. Some activists from Leh have in recent times called for Ladakh to be constituted as a union territory because of perceived unfair treatment by Kashmir and Ladakh's cultural differences with predominantly Muslim Kashmir while people of Kargil oppose UT status for Ladakh.

Lhasa

Lhasa or Chengguan is a district and administrative capital of Lhasa City in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The inner urban area of Lhasa City is equivalent to the administrative borders of Chengguan District, which is part of the wider prefectural Lhasa City.

Lhasa is the second most populous urban area on the Tibetan Plateau after Xining and, at an altitude of 3,490 metres (11,450 ft), Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. The city has been the religious and administrative capital of Tibet since the mid-17th century. It contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka Palaces.

Mount Kailash

Mount Kailash (also Kailasa; Kangrinboqê or Gang Rinpoche; Tibetan: གངས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ; simplified Chinese: 冈仁波齐峰; traditional Chinese: =岡仁波齊峰), is a 6,638 m (21,778 ft) high peak in the Kailash Range (Gangdisê Mountains), which forms part of the Transhimalaya in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The mountain is located near Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal, close to the source of some of the longest Asian rivers: the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, and Karnali also known as Ghaghara (a tributary of the Ganges) in India. Mount Kailash is considered to be sacred in four religions: Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Padmasambhava

Padmasambhava (lit. "Lotus-Born"), also known as Guru Rinpoche, was an 8th-century Buddhist master from the Indian subcontinent. Although there was a historical Padmasambhava, little is known of him apart from helping the construction of the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet at Samye, at the behest of Trisong Detsen, and shortly thereafter leaving Tibet due to court intrigues.A number of legends have grown around Padmasambhava's life and deeds, and he is widely venerated as a "second Buddha" by adherents of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, the Himalayan states of India, and elsewhere.In Tibetan Buddhism, he is a character of a genre of literature called terma, an emanation of Amitābha that is said to appear to tertöns in visionary encounters and a focus of guru yoga practice, particularly in the Rimé schools. The Nyingma school considers Padmasambhava to be a founder of their tradition.

Qinghai–Tibet railway

The Qinghai–Tibet railway or Qingzang railway (Standard Tibetan: མཚོ་བོད་ལྕགས་ལམ།, mtsho bod lcags lam; simplified Chinese: 青藏铁路; traditional Chinese: 青藏鐵路; pinyin: Qīngzàng Tiělù), is a high-elevation railway that connects Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

The length of the railway is 1,956 km (1,215 mi). Construction of the 815 km (506 mi) section between Xining and Golmud was completed by 1984. The 1,142 km (710 mi) section between Golmud and Lhasa was inaugurated on 1 July 2006, by CPC General Secretary Hu Jintao: the first two-passenger trains were "Qing 1" (Q1) from Golmud to Lhasa, and "Zang 2" (J2) from Lhasa to Beijing. This railway is the first that connects the Tibet Autonomous Region to any other provinces. Tibet, due to its elevation and terrain, is the last provincial level region in China to have a railway. Testing of the line and equipment started on 1 May 2006. Passenger trains run from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xining, and Lanzhou and can carry between 800 and 1,000 passengers during peak season.The line includes the Tanggula Pass, which, at 5,072 m (16,640 feet) (3.15 miles) above sea level, is the world's highest point on a railway. Tanggula railway station at 5,068 m (16,627 feet) 33°00′18.50″N 91°38′57.70″E is the world's highest railway station. The 1,338 m (4,390 ft) Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world at 4,905 m (16,093 ft) above sea level. The 4,010 m (13,160 ft) New Guanjiao Tunnel is the longest tunnel and the culminating point 3,700 metres (12,100 ft) between Xining and Golmud and 3,345 m (10,974 ft). Yangbajing tunnel is the longest tunnel between Golmud and Lhasa. More than 960 km (600 mi), over 80% of the Golmud–Lhasa section, is at an elevation of more than 4,000 m (13,123 ft). There are 675 bridges, totalling 159.88 km (99.34 mi); about 550 km (340 mi) of track is laid on permafrost.

Tibet (1912–1951)

The nation state of Tibet from 1912 to 1951 came into being upon the aftermath of the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, and lasted until the incorporation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China in 1951. The Tibetan Ganden Phodrang regime was a Protectorate of the Qing Dynasty until 1912, when the Provisional Government of the Republic of China replaced the Qing dynasty as the government of China, and signed a treaty with the Qing government inheriting all territories of the previous dynasty into the new republic, giving Tibet the status of a "Protectorate" with high levels of autonomy as it was Protectorate under the dynasty. At the same time, Tibet was also a British Protectorate. However, at the same time, several Tibetan representatives signed a treaty between Tibet and Mongolia proclaiming mutual recognition and their independence from China, although the Government of the Republic of China did not recognize its legitimacy. With the high levels of autonomy and the "proclaiming of independence" by several Tibetan representatives, this period of Tibet is often described as "de facto independent", especially by some Tibetan independence supporters, although most countries of the world, as well as the United Nations, recognized Tibet as a part of the Republic of China.

The era ended after the Nationalist government of China lost the Chinese Civil War against the Chinese Communist Party, when the People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1950 and the Seventeen Point Agreement was signed with the Chinese affirming China's sovereignty over Tibet the following year.

Tibet Autonomous Region

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or Xizang Autonomous Region, called Tibet or Xizang for short (Chinese: 西藏; pinyin: Xīzàng; Mandarin pronunciation: [ɕí.tsâŋ]; literally: 'Western Tsang'; Tibetan: བོད་, Wylie: Bod, ZYPY: Poi, Tibetan pronunciation: [pʰø̀ʔ]), is a province-level autonomous region in southwest China. It was formally established in 1965 to replace the Tibet Area, an administrative division the People's Republic of China (PRC) took over from the Republic of China (ROC), about five years after the dismissal of the Kashag by the PRC following the 1959 Tibetan uprising, and about 13 years after Tibet's incorporation into the PRC in 1951.

The current borders of the Tibet Autonomous Region were generally established in the 18th century and include about half of ethno-cultural Tibet. The Tibet Autonomous Region is the second-largest province-level division of China by area, spanning over 1,200,000 km2 (460,000 sq mi), after Xinjiang, and mostly due to its harsh and rugged terrain, is the least densely populated provincial-level division of the PRC.

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhist doctrine and institutions named after the lands of Tibet, but also found in the regions surrounding the Himalayas and much of Central Asia. It derives from the latest stages of Indian Buddhism and preserves "the Tantric status quo of eighth-century India." It has been spread outside of Tibet, especially due to the Mongol power of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), founded by Kublai Khan, that also ruled China.

Tibetan Buddhism applies Tantric practices, especially deity yoga, and aspires to Buddhahood or the rainbow body. Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet has four major schools, namely Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug (developed out of Sakya). The Jonang is a smaller school, and the Rimé movement is an eclectic movement involving the Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma schools. Among the prominent proponents of Tibetan Buddhism are the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, the leaders of Gelug school in Tibet.

Tibetan Empire

The Tibetan Empire (Tibetan: བོད་ཆེན་པོ, Wylie: bod chen po, "Great Tibet") existed from the 7th to 9th centuries AD when Tibet was unified as a large and powerful empire, and ruled an area considerably larger than the Tibetan Plateau, stretching to parts of East Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.

Traditional Tibetan history described the exploits of a lengthy list of rulers. External corroboration is available from the 7th century in Chinese histories. From the 7th to the 9th century a series of emperors ruled Tibet. From the time of the emperor Songtsen Gampo the power of the empire gradually increased over a diverse terrain. By the reign of the emperor Ralpacan, in the opening years of the 9th century, it controlled territories extending from the Tarim basin to the Himalayas and Bengal, and from the Pamirs to what is now Chinese provinces of Gansu and Yunnan.

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. The empire collapsed into civil war in the 840s.

Tibetan Plateau

The Tibetan Plateau (Tibetan: བོད་ས་མཐོ།, Wylie: bod sa mtho), also known in China as the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau or the Qing–Zang Plateau (Chinese: 青藏高原; pinyin: Qīng–Zàng Gāoyuán) or Himalayan Plateau, is a vast elevated plateau in Central Asia and East Asia, covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai in western China, as well as Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) and Lahaul & Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) in India. It stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) east to west. With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft), the Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called "the Roof of the World" because it stands over 3 miles (4.8 km) above sea level and is surrounded by imposing mountain ranges that harbor the world's two highest summits, Mount Everest and K2, and is the world's highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) (about five times the size of Metropolitan France). Sometimes termed the Third Pole, the Tibetan Plateau contains the headwaters of the drainage basins of most of the streams in surrounding regions. Its tens of thousands of glaciers and other geographical and ecological features serve as a "water tower" storing water and maintaining flow. The impact of global warming on the Tibetan Plateau is of intense scientific interest.

Transcriptions
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinXīzàng
Wade–GilesHsi1-tsang4
IPA[ɕí.tsâŋ]
Hakka
RomanizationSî-tshông
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationSāi-johng
IPA[sɐ́i.tsɔ̀ːŋ]
JyutpingSai1-zong6
Southern Min
Hokkien POJSe-chōng
Teochew Peng'imSai-tsăng
Eastern Min
Fuzhou BUCSă̤-câung
Middle Chinese
Middle ChineseSei-dzang
Transcriptions
WylieBod
Tibetan PinyinPoi
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Geography
Politics
Economy
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