Gyantse

Last updated

Gyantse
རྒྱལ་རྩེ · 江孜镇
Gyangzê
Gyantse.jpg
View of Old Gyantse and Palcho Monastery from Gyantse Dzong
China Tibet Autonomous Region rel location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Gyantse
Location in the Tibet Autonomous Region
Coordinates(Gyantse town government): 28°54′53″N89°36′16″E / 28.9148°N 89.6045°E / 28.9148; 89.6045
Country People's Republic of China
Province Tibet Autonomous Region
Prefecture-level city Shigatse
County Gyantse
Population
 (2010)
  Total11,039
Time zone UTC+8 (CST)

Gyantse, officially Gyangzê Town (also spelled Gyangtse; Tibetan : རྒྱལ་རྩེ, Wylie : rgyal rtse, ZYPY : Gyangzê; simplified Chinese :江孜镇; traditional Chinese :江孜鎮; pinyin :Jiāngzī Zhèn), is a town located in Gyantse County, Shigatse Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It was historically considered the third largest and most prominent town in the Tibet region (after Lhasa, and Shigatse), but there are now at least ten larger Tibetan cities. [1]

Contents

History

A 1954 map of Gyantse Txu-oclc-10552568-nh45-16.jpg
A 1954 map of Gyantse

In 1904, the British expedition to Tibet reached Gyantse on 11 April. The town's garrison had already fled, and the expedition's members entered the town bloodlessly through the front gates, which were opened for them, and occupied Gyantse. After the town was occupied, several British officers visited the Palcho Monastery and seized several statues and scrolls. During the occupation, the town's inhabitants continued to go about their business, and the expedition's medical officer, Herbert James Walton, attended to their medical needs, including performing several operations to correct the common problem of cleft palates. The expedition's officers spent time exploring the town and carrying out fishing or hunting trips in the surrounding countryside. Eventually, the expedition concluded a treaty with the Tibetan authorities, which stipulated that a British trade agent and garrison would be stationed at Gyantse. [2]

In 1919, Sir Walter Buchanan, a member of the Royal Geographical Society, travelled into the Chumbi Valley and visited the British garrison at Gyantse, describing it as "small" and noting that it consisted primarily of Indian troops. [3] During the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama, a military academy was established by the British in Gyantse to train Tibetan Army officers. [4] During World War II, the British continued to maintain a garrison in Gyantse, though it was eventually disbanded by 1947. [5] [6] [7]

Location

The town is strategically located in the Nyang Chu valley on the ancient trade routes from the Chumbi Valley, Yatung and Sikkim, which met here. From Gyantse, routes led to Shigatse downstream and also over the Kora La (Pass) to Central Tibet. [8] The fortress (constructed in 1390) [9] guarded the southern approaches to the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa. [10] The town was surrounded by a wall 3 km long. [11]

Demographics

In 1952, Gyantse had a population of perhaps 8,000 people, [12] about the same as in 2008. [13] It is 3,977 meters (13,050 ft) above sea level, and is located 254 km southwest of Lhasa in the fertile plain of the Nyang river valley and on a side branch of the Friendship Highway, which connects Kathmandu, Nepal to Lhasa. Gyantse was the third largest city in Tibet before being overtaken by Qamdo.

Landmarks

Gyantse is notable for its restored Gyantse Dzong or fort, and its magnificent tiered Kumbum (literally: '100,000 images') of the Palcho Monastery, the largest chörten in Tibet. The Kumbum was commissioned by a Gyantse prince in 1427 and was an important centre of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. This religious structure contains 77 chapels in its six floors, and is illustrated with over 10,000 murals, many showing a strong Nepali influence, which have survived almost entirely intact. They are the last of its kind to be found in Tibet. Many of the restored clay statues are of less artistry than the destroyed originals - but they are still spectacular. [14] [15]

Gyantse with the Dzong fortress in the background. 1995. Tibet-gyantse-1994.jpg
Gyantse with the Dzong fortress in the background. 1995.
Main street Gyantse, with Kumbum on left and fort above. 1993 Gyantse with Kumbum & fort - Edited.jpg
Main street Gyantse, with Kumbum on left and fort above. 1993
Gyantse Fortress Gyantse Fortress.jpg
Gyantse Fortress

The town was nearly destroyed by flooding in 1954. After rioting in 1959, local industries were dismantled and artisans fled while others were placed in workcamps. Some 400 monks and laypeople were imprisoned in the monastery. [11] During the Cultural Revolution, the fort, the monastery and Kumbum were ransacked. Precious objects were destroyed or sent out of Tibet. The chorten was spared. [11]

The main building of the Pelkor Chode or Palcho Monastery and the Kumbum have been largely restored but the dzong or fort is still largely in ruins. During the 20th century, the Chinese government established the "Anti-British Imperialism Museum" in Gyantse, which exhibits the state narrative on the 1904 British expedition. [16] The sculpture that forms the centerpiece of the museum are two "Tibetan" warriors, but they were based on photos taken by Lt. G. J. Davys in Chumbi Valley of non-Tibetans doing fake battles, and the armor were worn backwards. [17]

Climate

Gyantse has an elevation-influenced humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dwb).

Climate data for Gyantse (1991–2020 normals)
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Mean daily maximum °C (°F)5.9
(42.6)
7.6
(45.7)
10.7
(51.3)
13.9
(57.0)
17.7
(63.9)
21.1
(70.0)
20.5
(68.9)
19.7
(67.5)
18.9
(66.0)
15.4
(59.7)
10.6
(51.1)
7.3
(45.1)
14.1
(57.4)
Daily mean °C (°F)−3.8
(25.2)
−1.1
(30.0)
2.6
(36.7)
5.7
(42.3)
9.6
(49.3)
13.2
(55.8)
13.0
(55.4)
12.1
(53.8)
10.8
(51.4)
6.6
(43.9)
0.8
(33.4)
−2.9
(26.8)
5.6
(42.0)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F)−13.1
(8.4)
−10.1
(13.8)
−5.8
(21.6)
−1.9
(28.6)
2.1
(35.8)
6.1
(43.0)
7.4
(45.3)
6.6
(43.9)
4.2
(39.6)
−1.1
(30.0)
−7.6
(18.3)
−11.4
(11.5)
−2.0
(28.3)
Average precipitation mm (inches)0.3
(0.01)
0.5
(0.02)
1.7
(0.07)
7.7
(0.30)
16.9
(0.67)
37.7
(1.48)
89.3
(3.52)
89.2
(3.51)
34.7
(1.37)
3.5
(0.14)
0.5
(0.02)
1.8
(0.07)
283.8
(11.18)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)0.40.71.24.06.610.918.818.510.72.10.40.374.6
Average snowy days0.81.12.25.93.20.20.100.31.40.70.516.4
Average relative humidity (%)30303340465467706245383846
Mean monthly sunshine hours 272.2251.5276.2273.1295.9273.4224.6224.6244.3294.0283.6280.93,194.3
Percent possible sunshine 83797470706653566784898873
Source: China Meteorological Administration [18] [19]

Footnotes

  1. Dorje (1999), p. 254.
  2. Chisholm 1911.
  3. Sir Walter Buchanan, A recent trip into the Chumbi Valley, Tibet, The Royal Geographical Society, 1919.
  4. Wang Jiawei et Nyima Gyaincain, The Tibetan Army's First Eastward Invasion Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine , in The Historical Status of China's Tibet, China Intercontinental Press, 1997.
  5. Hank Baker’s obituary notice, telegraph.co.uk, 4 March 2006.
  6. Sanderson Beck, Tibet, Nepal, and Ceylon, 1800-1950.
  7. BBC Radio 4 23 September 2013 11a.m http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bdbq2
  8. Dowman (1988), p. 269
  9. Vitali (1990), p. 30.
  10. Allen (2004), p. 30.
  11. 1 2 3 Buckley, Michael and Strauss, Robert (1986), p. 158.
  12. Richardson (1984), p. 7.
  13. "Tibet: Transformation and tradition." BBC News 5 March 2008.
  14. Dowman (1988), p. 270.
  15. Mayhew (2005), p. 167.
  16. Mayhew (2005), p. 168.
  17. Harris (2012), p.130-135
  18. 中国气象数据网 – WeatherBk Data (in Simplified Chinese). China Meteorological Administration . Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  19. 中国气象数据网 (in Simplified Chinese). China Meteorological Administration . Retrieved 27 September 2023.

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References