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Map showing the Tibetan regions of U-Tsang, Ngari, Kham and Amdo Map of Tibet U-Tsang Amdo and Kham.jpg
Map showing the Tibetan regions of Ü-Tsang, Ngari, Kham and Amdo
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 烏思藏
Simplified Chinese 乌思藏
Tibetan name
Tibetan དབུས་གཙང་

Ü-Tsang or Tsang-Ü[ citation needed ] is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the others being Amdo in the north-east, Kham in the east. Ngari (including former Guge kingdom) in the north-west was incorporated into Ü-Tsang. Geographically Ü-Tsang covered the south-central of the Tibetan cultural area, including the Brahmaputra River watershed. The western districts surrounding and extending past Mount Kailash are included in Ngari, and much of the vast Changtang plateau to the north. The Himalayas defined Ü-Tsang's southern border. The present Tibet Autonomous Region corresponds approximately to what was ancient Ü-Tsang and western Kham.

Ü-Tsang was formed by the merging of two earlier power centers: Ü (Wylie : dbus) in central Tibet, controlled by the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism under the early Dalai Lamas, and Tsang (Wylie : gtsang) which extended from Gyantse to points west, controlled by the rival Sakya lineage. Military victories by the powerful Khoshut Mongol Güshi Khan that backed 5th Dalai Lama and founded Ganden Phodrang government in 1642, consolidated power over the combined region, followed by the rule of the Qing Dynasty started in 1720 by the Qianlong Emperor that continued until the British expedition to Tibet (1903–1904). [1] [2]

Ü-Tsang is the cultural heartland of the Tibetan people, originally governed by Rinpungpa dynasty. The Tsangpa dynasty had ruled the Tsang part between 1565 and 1642. The dispute between Tsang kings, Karma Tenkyong Wangpo followers of karmapa and Khoshut khans, Güshi Khan, follower of gelugpa and Dalai Lamas ended by the rule on Tibet from the Potala and Norbulingka palaces in Lhasa from the last one. Jokhang, perhaps the most holy temple in Tibetan Buddhism, is also located there. The Lhasa dialect is used as a lingua franca in Ü-Tsang and the Tibetan Exile koiné language is also based largely on it.

Front and Back Tibet

Tsang, whose largest cities are Gyantse and Shigatse, near where the Panchen Lama has his traditional seat at Tashilhunpo Monastery, was designated on maps of the Qing dynasty as "Back Tibet", while Ü, where the Dalai Lama has his seat at Lhasa, was designated "Front Tibet".[ citation needed ] This division was an artificial construct of the Chinese and had no currency within Tibet where the Dalai Lama exercised effective rule over both Tsang and Ü. An attempt had been made in the 18th century during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor to split Tibet by offering the Panchen Lama dominion over Tsang, but the expansive offer was declined, the Panchen Lama only accepting a small portion of the offered territory. [3] Later attempts, during the period 1906–1913 and in 1950, by the Panchen Lama to resurrect a separate Back Tibet over which he would have dominion were rejected by the Chinese. [4]

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Dalai Lama Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teacher

Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people to 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, who lives as a refugee in India. 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.

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.

Güshi Khan

Güshi Khan was a Khoshut prince and leader of the Khoshut Khanate, who supplanted the Tumed descendants of Altan Khan as the main benefactor of the Dalai Lama and the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1637, Güshi Khan defeated a rival Mongol prince Choghtu Khong Tayiji, a Kagyu follower, near Qinghai Lake and established his khanate in Tibet over the next years. His military assistance to the Gelug school enabled the 5th Dalai Lama to establish political control over Tibet.

5th Dalai Lama

Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso was the 5th Dalai Lama and the first Dalai Lama to wield effective temporal and spiritual power over all Tibet. He is often referred to simply as the Great Fifth, being a key religious and temporal leader of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet. Gyatso is credited with unifying all Tibet under the Ganden Phodrang after a Mongol military intervention which ended a protracted era of civil wars. As an independent head of state, he established relations with Qing Empire and other regional countries and also met early European explorers. Gyatso also wrote 24 volumes' worth of scholarly and religious works on a wide range of subjects.

Lha-bzang Khan

Lha-bzang Khan was the ruler of the Khoshut tribe of the Oirats. He was the son of Tenzin Dalai Khan (1668–1701) and grandson of Güshi Khan, being the last khan of the Khoshut Khanate and Oirat King of Tibet. He acquired effective power as ruler of Tibet by eliminating the regent (desi) Sangye Gyatso and the Sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, but his rule was cut short by an invasion by another group of Oirats, the Dzungar people. At length, this led to the direct involvement of the Chinese Qing Dynasty in the Tibetan politics.

This is a list of topics related to Tibet.

Desi Sangye Gyatso

Desi Sangye Gyatso (1653–1705) was the sixth regent (desi) of the 5th Dalai Lama (1617–1682) in the Ganden Phodrang, who founded the School of Medicine and Astrology called Men-Tsee-Khang on Chagspori in 1694 and wrote the Blue Beryl treatise. His name is sometimes written as Sangye Gyamtso and Sans-rGyas rGya-mTsho

Ming–Tibet relations Relations between Ming-dynasty China and Tibet

The exact nature of relations between Tibet and the Ming dynasty of China (1368–1644) is unclear. Analysis of the relationship is further complicated by modern political conflicts and the application of Westphalian sovereignty to a time when the concept did not exist. The Historical Status of China's Tibet, a book published by the government of PRC, asserts that the Ming dynasty had unquestioned sovereignty over Tibet, pointing to the Ming court's issuing of various titles to Tibetan leaders, Tibetans' full acceptance of these titles, and a renewal process for successors of these titles that involved traveling to the Ming capital. Scholars within China also argue that Tibet has been an integral part of China since the 13th century and that it was thus a part of the Ming Empire. But most scholars outside China, such as Turrell V. Wylie, Melvin C. Goldstein, and Helmut Hoffman, say that the relationship was one of suzerainty, that Ming titles were only nominal, that Tibet remained an independent region outside Ming control, and that it simply paid tribute until the Jiajing Emperor (1521–1566), who ceased relations with Tibet.

Tsangpa Dynasty that dominated large parts of Tibet from 1565 to 1642.

Tsangpa was a dynasty that dominated large parts of Tibet from 1565 to 1642. It was the last Tibetan royal dynasty to rule in own name. The regime was founded by Karma Tseten, a low-born retainer of the prince of the Rinpungpa Dynasty and governor of Samdrubtsé in Tsang since 1548.

Yeshe Gyatso (1686–1725) was a pretender for the position of the 6th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Declared by Lha-bzang Khan of the Khoshut Khanate on June 28, 1707, he was the only unofficial Dalai Lama. While praised for his personal moral qualities, he was not recognized by the bulk of the Tibetans and Mongols and is not counted in the official list of the Dalai Lamas.

Mongol invasions of Tibet

There were several Mongol invasions of Tibet. The earliest is the alleged plot to invade Tibet by Genghis Khan in 1206, which is considered anachronistic; there is no evidence of Mongol-Tibetan encounters prior to the military campaign in 1240. The first confirmed campaign is the invasion of Tibet by the Mongol general Doorda Darkhan in 1240, a campaign of 30,000 troops that resulted in 500 casualties. The campaign was smaller than the full-scale invasions used by the Mongols against large empires. The purpose of this attack is unclear, and is still in debate among Tibetologists. Then in the late 1240s Mongolian prince Godan invited Sakya lama Sakya Pandita, who urged other leading Tibetan figures to submit to Mongol authority. This is generally considered to have marked the beginning of Mongol rule over Tibet, as well as the establishment of patron and priest relationship between Mongols and Tibetans. These relations were continued by Kublai Khan, who founded the Mongol Yuan dynasty and granted authority over whole Tibet to Drogon Chogyal Phagpa, nephew of Sakya Pandita. The Sakya-Mongol administrative system and Yuan administrative rule over the region lasted until the mid-14th century, when the Yuan dynasty began to crumble.

Karma Tenkyong, in full Karma Tenkyong Wangpo, was a king of Tibet who ruled from 1620 to 1642. He belonged to the Tsangpa Dynasty which had been prominent in Tsang since 1565. His reign was marked by the increasingly bitter struggle against the Gelugpa sect and its leader the Dalai Lama. The final outcome was the crushing of the Tsangpa regime and the establishment of the Dharma-based Tibetan state that endured until 1950.

Khoshut Khanate

The Khoshut Khanate was an Oirat khanate based in the Tibetan Plateau from 1642-1717.

Buddhism was first actively disseminated in Tibet from the 6th to the 9th century CE, predominantly from India. During the Era of Fragmentation, Buddhism waned in Tibet, only to rise again in the 11th century. With the Mongol invasion of Tibet in the 13th century and the establishment of the Mongol Yuan dynasty, Tibetan Buddhism spread beyond Tibet to Mongolia and China. From the 14th to the 20th Tibetan Buddhism was patronized by the Chinese Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and the Manchurian Qing dynasty (1644–1912).

Ganden Phodrang

The Ganden Phodrang or Ganden Podrang was the Tibetan government that was established by the 5th Dalai Lama with the help of the Güshi Khan of the Khoshut in 1642. Lhasa became the capital of Tibet in the beginning of this period, with all temporal power being conferred to the 5th Dalai Lama by Güshi Khan in Shigatse. After the expulsion of the Dzungars, Tibet was under administrative rule of the Qing dynasty between 1720 and 1912, but the Ganden Phodrang government lasted until the 1950s, when Tibet was incorporated into the People's Republic of China. Kashag became the governing council of the Ganden Phodrang regime during the early Qing rule.

Polhané Sönam Topgyé

Polhané Sönam Topgyé was one of the most important political personalities of Tibet in the first half of the 18th century. Between 1728 and 1747 he was effectively the ruling prince of Tibet and carried royal titles during the period of Qing rule of Tibet. He is known as an excellent administrator, a fearsome warrior and a grand strategist. After the troubled years under the reign of Lhazang Khan, the bloody invasion of Tsering Dhondup and the civil war, his government ushered in a relatively long period of stability and internal and external peace for Tibet.

Dayan Khan was the second khan of the Khoshut Khanate and protector-king of Tibet, ruling from 1655 to 1668. He sat on the throne during the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, but did not have a major independent role in Tibetan politics.

Khangchenné politician

Khangchenné Sonam Gyalpo was the first important representative of the noble house Gashi in Tibet. Between 1721 and 1727 he led the Tibetan cabinet that governed the country during the period of Qing rule of Tibet. He was eventually murdered by his peers in the cabinet, which triggered a bloody but brief civil war. The nobleman Polhané Sönam Topgyé came out as the victor and became the new ruling prince of Tibet under the Chinese protectorate.

Tibet under Qing rule

Tibet under Qing rule refers to the Qing dynasty's rule over Tibet from 1720 to 1912. Tibet was under Khoshut Khanate rule from 1642 to 1717, with the Khoshuts conquered by Dzungar Khanate in 1717, and the Dzungars subsequently expelled by Qing in 1720. The Qing emperors appointed resident commissioners known as Ambans to Tibet, most of them are ethnic Manchus, who reported to the Lifan Yuan, a Qing government body that oversaw the empire's frontier. Tibet under Qing rule retained a degree of political autonomy under the Dalai Lamas nonetheless.

The 1720 Chinese expedition to Tibet or the Chinese conquest of Tibet in 1720 was a military expedition sent by the Qing empire to expel the invading forces of the Dzungar Khanate from Tibet and establish a Chinese protectorate over the country. The expedition occupied Lhasa and marked the beginning of Qing rule in Tibet, which lasted until the empire's fall in 1912.


  1. Goldstein, Melvyn (1997). The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama . Berkeley: U of California.
  2. Annand, Dibyesh (February 2009). "Strategic Hypocrisy: The British Imperial Scripting of Tibet's Geopolitical Identity" (PDF). The Journal of Asian Studies. 68: 227–252. doi:10.1017/s0021911809000011 via WestminsterResearch.
  3. Goldstein, Melvyn C. (2007). A history of modern Tibet, Volume 2: The Calm before the Storm: 1951–1955. University of California Press. p.  266 and 267. ISBN   978-0-520-24941-7.
  4. Goldstein, Melvyn C. (2007). A history of modern Tibet, Volume 2: The Calm before the Storm: 1951–1955. University of California Press. pp.  266–267 and 277–286. ISBN   978-0-520-24941-7.

Coordinates: 30°51′21″N92°13′38″E / 30.85583°N 92.22722°E / 30.85583; 92.22722