There were three main social groups in Tibet prior to 1959, namely ordinary laypeople (mi ser in Tibetan), lay nobility (sger pa), and monks. [ citation needed ] or nomadic pastoralist (trokpa).[ citation needed ]The ordinary layperson could be further classified as a peasant farmer (shing-pa)
Tibet 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 5,000 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.
Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.
The Tsang (17th century) and Dalai Lama (Ganden Podrang) law codes distinguished three social divisions: high, medium and low, each in turn was divided into three classes, to give nine classes in all. Social status was a formal classification, mostly hereditary and had legal consequences: for example the compensation to be paid for the killing of a member of these classes varied from 5 (for the lowest) to 200 'sung' for the second highest, the members of the noble families.
Nobles, government officials and monks of pure conduct were in the high division, only - probably - the Dalai Lama was in the very highest class. The middle division contained a large portion of the population and ranged from minor government officials, to taxpayer and landholding peasants, to landless peasants. Movement between classes was possible in the middle division.The lower division contained ragyabpa ('untouchables') of different types: e.g. blacksmiths and butchers. The very lowest class contained executioners, and (in the Tsang code) bachelors and hermaphrodites.
A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut. Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils and weapons.
Anthropologists have presented different taxonomies for the middle social division, in part because they studied specific regions of Tibet and the terms were not universal.Both Melvyn Goldstein and Geoff Childs however classified the population into three main types:
An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of various aspects of humans within past and present societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology, and philosophical anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life, while economic anthropology studies human economic behavior. Biological (physical), forensic, and medical anthropology study the biological development of humans, the application of biological anthropology in a legal setting, and the study of diseases and their impacts on humans over time, respectively.
Melvyn C. Goldstein is an American social anthropologist and Tibet scholar. His research focuses on Tibetan society, history and contemporary politics, population studies, polyandry, studies in cultural and development ecology, economic change and cross-cultural gerontology.
In the middle group, the taxpaying families could be quite wealthy.Depending upon the district, each category had different responsibilities in terms of tax and labor. Membership to each of these classes was primarily hereditary; the linkage between subjects and their estate and overlord was similarly transmitted through parallel descent. The taxpayer class, although numerically smallest among the three subclasses, occupied a superior position in terms of political and economic status.
Heredity is the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring, either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, the offspring cells or organisms acquire the genetic information of their parents. Through heredity, variations between individuals can accumulate and cause species to evolve by natural selection. The study of heredity in biology is genetics.
The question of whether serfdom prevailed in traditional Tibetan society is controversial; Heidi Fjeld [ no ] argues for a moderate position, recognizing that serfdom existed but was not universal in U-Tsang; a better description of the traditional Tibetan social class system, at least in Central Tibet, would be a caste system, rather than a comparison to European feudalism.
The highest of the high class was empty, or only contained possibly the Dalai Lama
The middle class of the high division - the highest attainable in practice - was headed by the hereditary nobility. Yabshi were thought to be descendants of the Dalai Lamas, depon were descendants of the ancient royal families, midak were on a slightly lower level.
There were "a small group of about 30 higher status families" and "120 to 170 lower or 'common' aristocratic families".
High government officials were appointed from the aristocracy. Monk officials were usually drawn from Lhasa middle classes, the families of existing monk officials, or were the second sons of the aristocracy. They were usually monks in name only, one night spent in a monastery being sufficient to qualify as a monk for this purpose.
The treba (also tralpa or khral-pa) taxpayers lived in "corporate family units" that hereditarily owned estates leased from their district authority, complete with land titles. In Goldstein's review of the Gyantse district he found that a taxpayer family typically owned from 20 acres (81,000 m2) to 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land each. Their primary civil responsibility was to pay taxes (tre-ba and khral-pa means "taxpayer"), and to supply corvée services that included both human and animal labor to their district authority. They had a comfortable standard of living. They also frequently practiced polyandry in marriage and other practices to maintain a single marriage per generation and avoid parceling land holdings.
The householder class (du-jung, dud-chung-ba — either governmental, monastic, or aristocratic — was the ultimate landowner and decided inheritance. Compared to the taxpayer families the householders, however, had lighter tax obligations and only human labor corvée obligations to their district authorities. These obligations, unlike the taxpayer family obligations, fell only on the individual and not on his family.duiqoin, duiqion, düchung, dudchhung, duigoin or dujung) comprised peasants who held only small plots of land that were legally and literally "individual" possessions. This was different from the taxpayer families who owned land as a familial corporation. Land inheritance rules for the householders were quite different from taxpayer family rules, in that there was no certainty as to whether a plot of land would be inherited by his son. The district authority
Human lease peasants (mi-bo) did not have heritable rights to land. They were still obligated to their 'owning' estate under their status as mi-ser. In contrast with the taxpayer families and householders, they had the freedom to go wherever they wanted and could engage in trade or crafts.When farming, they might lease land from taxpayer families and as payment take on work for those families. Like the householders the landless peasants also used resources in their own individual capacity which were non-heritable.
The relative freedom of the mi-bo status was usually purchased by an annual fee to the estate to which the mi-bo belonged. The fee could be raised if the mi-bo prospered, and the lord could still exact special corvée labor, e.g. for a special event.
The status could be revoked at the will of the estate owner. The offspring of the mi-bo did not automatically inherit the status of 'mi-bo', they did inherit the status of 'mi-ser', and could be indentured to service in their earlier teens, or would have to pay their own mi-bo fee.
The ragyabpa or untouchable caste were the lowest level, and they performed the 'unclean' work. This included fishermen, butchers, executioners, corpse disposers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and prostitutes. Ragyabpa were also divided into three divisions: for instance a goldsmith was in the highest untouchable class, and was not regarded as being as defiled as an executioner, who was in the lowest.
They were regarded as both polluted and polluting, membership of the caste was hereditary, and escape from the untouchable status was not possible.
According to Chinese government sources, Nangzan (also nangzen, nangzan, nangsen) were hereditary household servants comprising 5% of the population.
According to American sinologist A. Tom Grunfeld there were a few slaves in Tibet. Grunfeld quotes Sir Charles Bell, a British colonial official in the Chumbi Valley in the early 19th century and a Tibet scholar who wrote of slaves in the form of small children being stolen or bought from their parents, too poor to support them, to be brought up and kept or sold as slaves.These children came mostly from south-eastern Tibet and the territories of the tribes that dwelt between Tibet and Assam. Grunfeld omits Bell's elaboration that in 1905, there were "a dozen or two" of these, and that it was "a very mild form of slavery". According to exile Tibetan writer Jamyang Norbu, later accounts from Westerners who visited Tibet and even long-term foreign residents such as Heinrich Harrer, Peter Aufschnaiter, Hugh Richardson and David Macdonald make no mention of any such practice, which suggests that the 13th Dalai Lama must have eliminated this practice altogether in his reforms.
Thubten Gyatso was the 13th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Ü-Tsang or Tsang-Ü, is one of the four traditional provinces of Tibet, the other being Amdo in the North-East, the Kham in the East and the Ngari in the North-West. 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.
Polyandry is a rare marital arrangement in which a woman has several husbands. In Tibet, those husbands are often brothers; "fraternal polyandry". Concern over which children are fathered by which brother falls on the wife alone. She may or may not say who the father is because she does not wish to create conflict in the family or is unsure who the biological father is. Historically the social system compelled marriage within a social class.
The 11th Panchen Lama controversy is a dispute about the current legitimate holder of the Panchen Lama title, a political and religious leadership position in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. After the death of the 10th Panchen Lama, a dispute between the Chinese leadership and the exiled 14th Dalai Lama resulted in two competing candidates. The search committee process involving monks in Tibet under the strict supervision of the Chinese communist regime was disrupted when the Dalai Lama, according to the Tibetan tradition, unilaterally announced his selection of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. The leadership in China spirited Nyima away to prevent his being taken to India by the Dalai Lama's supporters and reverted to the Qing Dynasty's Golden Urn process to select Gyaincain Norbu.
The Seventeen Point Agreement, also called the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, or the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet for short, is the document by which the delegates of the 14th Dalai Lama, sovereign of the de facto state of Tibet, reached an agreement in 1951 with the Central People's Government of the newly established People's Republic of China on affirming Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.
The Tibetan sovereignty debate refers to two political debates. The first is whether the various territories within the People's Republic of China (PRC) that are claimed as political Tibet should separate and become a new sovereign state. Many of the points in the debate rest on a second debate, about whether Tibet was independent or subordinate to China in certain parts of its recent history.
Reting Rinpoche was a title held by abbots of Reting Monastery, a Buddhist monastery in central Tibet.
The history of Tibet from 1950 to the present started with the Chinese invading Tibet in 1950. Before then, Tibet had declared independence from China in 1913. In 1951, the Tibetans signed a seventeen-point agreement reaffirming China's sovereignty over Tibet and providing an autonomous administration led by Dalai Lama. In 1959 the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet to northern India under cover where he established the Central Tibetan Administration. The Tibet Autonomous Region within China was officially established in 1965.
Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme was a Tibetan senior official who assumed various military and political responsibilities both before and after 1951. He is often known simply as Ngapo in English sources.
Tsipön Lungshar born Dorje Tsegyal (1880–1938) was a noted Tibetan politician who was accused by conservative political opponents of attempting to become the paramount figure of the Tibetan government in the 1930s, by planning a communist coup following the death of the 13th Dalai Lama.
The incorporation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China,, was the process by which the People's Republic of China (PRC) gained control of Tibet. These regions came under the control of China after attempts by the Government of Tibet to gain international recognition, efforts to modernize its military, negotiations between the Government of Tibet and the PRC, a military conflict in the Qamdo area of Western Kham in October 1950, and the eventual acceptance of the Seventeen Point Agreement by the Government of Tibet under Chinese pressure in October 1951. In the West, it is generally believed that China annexed Tibet. The Government of Tibet and Tibetan social structure remained in place in the Tibetan Autonomous Region under the authority of China until the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when the Dalai Lama fled into exile and after which the Government of Tibet and Tibetan social structures were dissolved.
The serfdom in Tibet controversy rests on Chinese claims of moral authority for governing Tibet, portraying Tibet as a "feudal serfdom" and a "hell on earth" prior to its invasion in 1950. Claims of unfree labour practices have been a recurrent theme, covering periods both before and after the Chinese takeover. Supporters of the Chinese position highlight statements by the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) that, prior to 1959, 95% of Tibetans lived in "feudal serfdom", and cite cases of abuse and cruelty in the traditional Tibetan system. Western responses have tended to attempt to discredit the Chinese claims as part of an effort to discredit the takeover of Tibet.
The polity of Tibet from 1912 to 1951 came into being in the aftermath of the collapse of the Qing empire 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 level of autonomy and the "proclaiming of independence" by several Tibetan representatives in this period, Tibet is described by Tibetan independence supporters as a "de facto independent state", although it never received "de jure" international recognition of an independent legal status separate from China.
Human rights in Tibet are a contentious issue. According to a 1992 Amnesty International report, judicial standards in China, including in autonomous Tibet, were not up to "international standards". The report charged the Chinese Communist Party government with keeping political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including the death penalty in its penal code, ill-treatment of detainees and inaction in the face of ill-treatment of detainees, including torture, the use of the death penalty, extrajudicial executions, forced abortions, and sterilisation. The status of religion, mainly as it relates to figures who are both religious and political, such as the 14th Dalai Lama, is a regular object of criticism.
The Battle of Chamdo 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.
The Tibet Improvement Party was a nationalist, revolutionary, anti-feudal and pro-Republic of China political party in Tibet. It was affiliated with the Kuomintang and was supported by mostly Khampas, with the Pandatsang family playing a key role.
The Tibetan Army was the military force of Tibet after its de facto independence in 1912 until the 1950s. As a ground army modernised with the assistance of British training and equipment, it served as the de facto armed forces of the Tibetan government.
Tibet under Qing rule refers to the Qing dynasty's rule over Tibet from 1720 to 1912. During the Qing rule of Tibet, the region was controlled by the Qing dynasty established by the Manchus in China. In the history of Tibet, Qing administrative rule was established after a Qing army defeated the Dzungars who occupied Tibet in 1720, and lasted until the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912, although the region retained a degree of political autonomy under the Dalai Lamas. The Qing emperors appointed imperial residents known as the Ambans to Tibet, who commanded over 2,000 troops stationed in Lhasa and reported to the Lifan Yuan, a Qing government body that oversaw the empire's frontier regions.
Thubten Kunphel, commonly known as Kunphela, was a Tibetan politician and one of the most powerful political figures in Tibet during the later years of the 13th Dalai Lama's rule, known as the "strong man of Tibet". Kunphela was arrested and exiled after the death of the Dalai Lama in 1933. He later escaped to India and became a co-founder of the India-based Tibet Improvement Party with the aim of establishing a secular government in Tibet. He worked in Nanking after the attempt to start a revolution in Tibet failed, and returned to Tibet in 1948.