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View of the village of Taktser
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Location of the village in Qinghai province
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Taktser (China)
Coordinates: 36°22′41.1″N101°51′57.2″E / 36.378083°N 101.865889°E / 36.378083; 101.865889 Coordinates: 36°22′41.1″N101°51′57.2″E / 36.378083°N 101.865889°E / 36.378083; 101.865889
Country China
Province Qinghai
Prefecture-level city Haidong
District Ping'an District
Township Shihuiyao Township ( 石灰窑 )
2,843 m (9,327 ft)
Time zone UTC+8 (China Standard Time)

Taktser or Tengtser (Tibetan : སྟག་འཚེར།, ZYPY : Dagcêr, Place on the Heights; Chinese : 红崖 ) [1] is a village in Shihuiyao Township ( 石灰窑 , Ping'an District, Haidong, Qinghai, in Western China, [2] [3] where Tibetan, Han and Hui Chinese live. [4]

Tibetan alphabet abugida used to write the Tibetic languages and others

The Tibetan alphabet is an abugida used to write the Tibetic languages such as Tibetan, as well as Dzongkha, Sikkimese, Ladakhi, and sometimes Balti. The printed form of the alphabet is called uchen script while the hand-written cursive form used in everyday writing is called umê script.

The SASM/GNC/SRC romanization of Tibetan, commonly known as Tibetan pinyin, is the official transcription system for the Tibetan language in the People's Republic of China for personal names and place names. It is based on the Lhasa dialect of Standard Tibetan and reflects the pronunciation except that it does not mark tone. It is used within China as an alternative to the Wylie transliteration for writing Tibetan in the Latin script within academic circles; Wylie transliteration is more commonly used.

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.


Taktser was originally an area of pasture land for the larger village of Balangtsa, about two hours walk away in the valley. Cattle were brought to feed on the fertile grazing lands in summer, which caused them to give very rich milk. Later, when people realized that this was also a good place to farm, permanent houses were built, and the village comprised about thirty cottages by the time Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was born. [5]

The village is on the route from Xining, which was the seat of local Chinese government administration, to Labrang Tashi Khyi, the largest monastery in the area after the famous Kumbum Monastery. [6]

Xining Prefecture-level city in Qinghai, Peoples Republic of China

Xining is the capital of Qinghai province in western China, and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau. It has 2,208,708 inhabitants at the 2010 census whom 1,198,304 live in the built up area made of 4 urban districts.

Kumbum Monastery

Kumbum Monastery, also called Ta'er Temple, is a Tibetan gompa in Huangzhong County, Xining, Qinghai, China. It was founded in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar in the historical Tibetan region of Amdo. Its superior monastery is Drepung Monastery, immediately to the west of Lhasa. It is ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa.

Taktser is the original Tibetan name [7] of the village of Hongya (红崖村 Hóngyá Cūn, Hongaizi in the local dialect), [8] together with 13 other villages forming the Shihuiyao Township (石灰窑乡), of Ping'an County, in Haidong Prefecture.

The brother of the 14th Dalai Lama Gyalo Thondup said that in 1710, a large part of Amdo had been incorporated into the Manchu empire as part of the region known as Qinghai. [9] He also said that people speak a mixture of Tibetan and Qinhai Chinese language. [10] Tibetan researcher Dr. Wang Xiaolin pointed out that at the end of the Ming Dynasty, most of people already spoke the Qinghai Chinese language, and only a very small amount of Tibetan vocabulary was involved. [11] It was reported that the family of the 14th Dalai Lama spoke Chinese at home [12] , and mother of the 14th Dalai Lama spent 2 years to learn the Tibetan language in Lhasa. [13]

Gyalo Thondup Tibetan personality, brother of Tenzin Gyatso (14th dalai lama)

Gyalo Thondup, born c.1928, is the second-eldest brother of the 14th Dalai Lama. He often acted as the Dalai Lama's unofficial envoy, and was involved in various political controversies around the Tibetan diaspora.

Taktser is not, as it is usually taken to be, in the proximity of the Kumbum Monastery, rather it is approximately 27 kilometres (17 mi) east of the monastery, and around 26 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of the town of Ping'an (平安镇, Tibetan: Bayan khar), which is also the seat of the government for the county of the same name.

Pingan District County in Qinghai, Peoples Republic of China

Ping'an District also known as Ping'anyi, is an administrative district and the seat of the city of Haidong, in the east of Qinghai province of the People's Republic of China. Its postal code is 810600, and its population in 1999 was 110,154 people.


Although the name of Taktser is a reminder of the times when the earliest inhabitants were Tibetan tribes, the Huis have been the main ethnic group in the area since the Qing Dynasty (1644). [14]

The village of Taktser became religiously linked to the Kumbum Jampa Ling Monastery. "The Taktser incarnation line was initiated when Yeshe Kelzang was recognized as the reincarnation of Lobzang Dorje, an abbot of the tantric college at Kumbum Monastery, who was then posthumously known as the First Taktser, The name of the incarnation line stems from the town of Taktser in Amdo where the Lobzang Dorje was born. The seat of this incarnation line is at Kumbum. The Fifth Takster, Lobzang Tsultrim Jigme Gyatso was a contemporary of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, and together they worked to improve the administration of Kumbum. The Sixth Taktser, Tubten Jigme Norbu, was the brother of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. He passed away in 2008 in Indiana..." [15]

A notable citizen, "Lobzang Dorje (blo bzang rdo rje) was born in Chikyā Taktse (chi kyA stag mtsher) Village near Kumbum Jampa Ling (sku 'bum byams pa gling) Monastery some time in the seventeenth century. He was educated at Kumbum Monastery, where he served first as the eighth abbot of the Tantric College (rgyud pa grwa tshang), and then, in 1691, as the seventeenth throne holder of the monastery, a post he held for five years. During his tenure, in 1692, the Tsenkhang (btsan khang), the temple dedicated to propitiating the tsen (btsan) spirit, was constructed..." [16]

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Qing empire troops destroyed the Taktser village. [17] "Manchu troops burned down every house in Taktser village, driving the entire population to seek refuge in caves in the surrounding hills. The Manchu's attempts to smoke them out with burning chili were unsuccessful..." [17]

In 1935, the village, then under the control of Hui Chinese (Muslim) warlord Ma Bufang of the Republic of China (Ma clique), consisted of 17 households, 15 of which were Tibetan. [18] In 1985, there were 40 families [19] and in 2002 the figure rose to 50. [20]

In 2009, the village numbered 256 inhabitants (45 families). Over 70% of the 45 families have a television set and a land-line telephone. The village also features 10 mobile phones, 16 motorbikes, and one automobile, but is still isolated from the Internet. [21]

The birthplace of the 14th Dalai Lama

House where the 14th Dalai Lama was born DLHaus.jpg
House where the 14th Dalai Lama was born

The village of Taktser gained fame as the birthplace of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1935. [22] It also saw the birth of his elder brother, Thubten Jigme Norbu, who was acknowledged by the 13th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the great lama Taktser Rinpoche. [23] In 2018, the house has reportedly been renovated and is monitored by the Chinese Communist Party. [24]

In her book "Dalai Lama, My Son. A Mother's Story", published in 2000, the 14th Dalai Lama's mother, Diki Tsering, reports on the cursory description that the 5th Reting Rinpoche gave of her household after seeing it in a vision: "there was a tree in the back yard and a stupa (...) at the doorway and (...) we had a small black-and-white dog and a large mastiff on the terrace (...), there were many nationalities in our home.". [25]

In 1954, the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, who had the opportunity of speaking to Dzasa Kunsangtse, one of the monk investigators sent to look for the 13th Dalai Lama's reincarnation, describes the house as "a little Chinese peasant house with carved gables.". [26]

Michael Harris Goodman portrayed the house as "typically Tibetan: a single-storied rectangular structure with a broad, flat roof situated around a paved courtyard with no windows in the outside walls. In the center of the yard was a round stone base supporting a tall wooden mast from which fluttered a banner of white cotton bearing hundreds of block-printed prayers." [27]

To find a more substantial description of the house, one has to turn the biography, published in 1959, of the Dalai Lama's elder brother, Thubten Jigme Norbu. In it the exterior appearance and interior arrangement of the house are depicted in minute detail. [28]

The house was a rectangular, ground-level building, with its various parts arranged around a wide central courtyard. It had a rectangular flat roof. There were no openings in the outside walls, except for the doorway. In the roof there were three chimneys stacks and two air-holes. Around the roof were small gutters with spouts giving out into the courtyard. Over the entrance there was a socket fixed in the roof to take a 10-foot-high flagpole. The flag itself was inscribed with innumerable prayers.

The house was entered from the east side as this was the only side that afforded protection from the weather. A wide corridor led into the yard. To the right was the kitchen, which took up almost the whole eastern wing. In the northern wing was the best room, the altar room and the bedroom of the dalai Lama's parents, all connected with each other. The byre, the guest room and the store room were in the western wing, while the stable, the kennel and the sheep-pen were in the southern wing. The yard, the covered in-way and the stalls were paved with stone slabs. The rooms had wooden floors.

A more recent account of the home comes from Rudy Kong in Dragons, Donkeys, and Dust: Memoirs from a decade in China, published in 2010. Kong visited the home in 2001 and described "a living room of bare concrete that contained nothing more than simple wooden furniture. On the tables and walls were old black and white family photos. In the photos we could see the young child Tenzin Gyatso, who would be pronounced an incarnation of Buddha himself and become the God-King of the Tibetans: the Dalai Lama." [29]

A Monastery of the 4th Karmapa

Standing on a mountain peak 7 km from Taktser, the monastery of Shadzong Ritro was founded by the 4th Karmapa (1340–1383) at the beginning of the 14th century. It is in this monastery that the 4th Karmapa conferred the first vows to Tsongkhapa (1357–1419). At the time of this ceremony, the Karmapa cut a wick of hair of the child, then sent it on a close boulder of the cave where he lived, creating a crack in the rock. A Juniper exhaling an odor of human hair and still visible these days would have grown from it. [27] At the time of his return from China, the 13th Dalai Lama, stayed for a while in this monastery, finding the place magnificent, and gazing at the house of his next reincarnation, [30] a detail the monks remembered. [31]

According to Thubten Jigme Norbu, in 1949, by the end of the Chinese Civil War, plundering hordes controlled by the Communists, robbed and destroyed what they could not take, burning the buildings of Shadzong Ritro. [32]


Located at 2,843 m (9,327 ft) above sea level, Taktser has an elevation-influenced humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dwb) with long, very cold winters and short, fresh summers. Taktser experiences large diurnal temperature variations, especially in winter months. January has a 16.3 °C (29.3 °F) difference between the average high and low temperatures.

Climate data for Taktser
Average high °C (°F)−1.4
Daily mean °C (°F)−9.6
Average low °C (°F)−17.7
Average precipitation mm (inches)2
Source: Climate-Data.org [33]


  1. Thubten Jigme Norbu, Heinrich Harrer, Tibet is my country, London: Wisdom Publications, 1986, p. 21 : "The meaning of 'Tengtser' is 'place on the heights' ; that is to say something like 'mountain village', or 'upper village'.")
  2. 2016年统计用区划代码和城乡划分代码:石灰窑乡 [2016 Statistical Area Numbers and Rural-Urban Area Numbers: Shihuiyao Township] (in Chinese). National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China. 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2018. 630203201207 220 红崖村委会
  3. 石灰窑回族乡 [Shihuiyao Huizu Ethnic Township]. 行政区划网站 www.xzqh.org (in Chinese). 行政区划网站/区划地名网站 (Administrative Divisions Web/District Geographic Names Web). 23 April 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2018. 【2011年代码及城乡分类】632121201:{...}~207 220红崖村{...}
  4. 中国藏学研究中心当代研究所副研究员王小彬 (2013). "十四世达赖的政治生命与西藏的和平解放". 七百多年来,众多民族在这里往来迁徙,逐渐成为藏、汉、回等民族混居地区。清代以来,回族人逐渐成为这条山沟的居民。
  5. Thubten Jigme Norbu, Heinrich Harrer, Tibet is my country, op. cit., p. 22.
  6. Tibet is My Country: Autobiography of Thubten Jigme Norbu, Brother of the Dalai Lama as told to Heinrich Harrer, p. 21. First published in German in 1960. English translation by Edward Fitzgerald, published 1960. Reprint, with updated new chapter, (1986): Wisdom Publications, London. ISBN   0-86171-045-2.
  7. Sonam Dorje- "Sonam Dorje received an MA in Tibetan Language and Literature from Qinghai Nationalities University in 2012. Based in Amdo, he is currently involved in a Tibetan oral history project as well as film translation.". "The First Taktser, Lobzang Dorje b.late 17th cent. - d.early 18th cent". The Treasury of Lives. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2018. QUOTE= "Lobzang Dorje (blo bzang rdo rje) was born in Chikyā Taktse (chi kyA stag mtsher) Village near Kumbum Jampa Ling Monastery (sku 'bum byams pa gling) Monastery some time in the seventeenth century."
  8. Emily Rauhala, In the Dalai Lama's home town, a moment of limbo, The Washington Post, November 19, 2015: "The spiritual leader was born Lhamo Dondrub to parents who farmed barley and potatoes in the village of Hongya" [...] "his birthplace [is] known to the Tibetans as Taktser."
  9. Gyalo Thondup; Anne F Thurston (14 April 2015). The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet. PublicAffairs. pp. 3–. ISBN   978-1-61039-290-7. In 1710, during the reign of the Kangxi emperor, a large part of my native Amdo had been incorporated into the Manchu empire as part of the region known as Qinghai
  10. Gyalo Thondup; Anne F Thurston (14 April 2015). The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet. PublicAffairs. pp. 2–. ISBN   978-1-61039-290-7. The village sits just at the edge of Tibet at a juncture of several cultures - Mongolian, Chinese, Uighur, Tibetan and Hui, with each culture speaking its own distinct language. Much later, as more Chinese moved into the area and we began to intermix, we began speaking a mixture of Tibetan and Qinghai Chinese language.
  11. 中国藏学研究中心当代研究所副研究员王小彬 (2013). "十四世达赖的政治生命与西藏的和平解放". 早在明末清初,这里的藏族居民已经很难看出他们与当地其他民族有什么不同了。村里人大多说青海汉语,只在生活中涉及少量藏语词汇。。
  12. 中国藏学研究中心当代研究所副研究员王小彬 (2013). "十四世达赖的政治生命与西藏的和平解放". 1941年3月29日,吴忠信日记:“午刻,在行辕宴达赖父母及其两兄弟并童养媳。据云……家人情话均用汉语,决不会忘记……”
  13. 中国藏学研究中心当代研究所副研究员王小彬 (2013). "十四世达赖的政治生命与西藏的和平解放". 达赖母亲回忆:“那个时候我不会说藏语,花了两年时间才学会了拉萨话。”(英文版第112页)文中提到他们从青海来到热振寺后,会话交流是通过一个叫泽丹的翻译进行的
  14. The 14th Dalai Lama's road to treason (1), People's Daily Online, April 23rd, 2008.
  15. "Taktser". The Treasury of Lives. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  16. "The First Taktser, Lobzang Dorje". The Treasury of Lives. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  17. 1 2 Thondup, Gyalo (2016). The noodle maker of Kalimpong : the untold story of the struggle for Tibet. Thurston, Anne F.,. London: Ebury Publishing. p. 3. ISBN   9781846043833. OCLC   941070566.
  18. Thomas Laird, The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama, 2007, p. 262.
  19. Cf Qinghai Province, Surrounded by Natural Beauty ; figure taken from the Chinese Statistical Yearbook 1985.
  20. John Gittings, Half a century of exile cannot crush Tibetan dreams, guardian.co.uk, February 8th, 2003.
  21. Yu Zheng, An enigmatic paradox - How a layman sees the Dalai Lama Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine ., China View, March 13th, 2009.
  22. "China keeps tight lid on riot-hit areas". Agence France-Presse . Philippine Daily Inquirer. 2008-03-24. Archived from the original on 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2008-03-24..
  23. Taktser Rinpoche: reincarnate lama and brother of the Dalai Lama, Obituary, TimesOnLine, 16 septembre 2008.
  24. Robertson, Tim (August 7, 2018). "A Visit to the Dalai Lama's Birthplace". The Diplomat . Archived from the original on August 9, 2018. The Dalai Lama’s former home isn’t exactly inconspicuous; the CCP have “renovated” it and you can see the gold roof as you drive toward Takster. But that’s the best view we get; the house is behind a four-meter high grey brick wall and, on the day we’re there, the wooden gate, draped in Tibetan khatags, is locked. In lieu of people, the house is watched over by a lone security camera, aimed at the entrance.
  25. Diki Tsering, Dalai Lama, My Son. A Mother's Story, edited and introduced by Khedroob Thondup, Hermondsworth, Viking Arkana, 2000.
  26. Seven years in Tibet, translated from the German by Richard Graves; with an introduction by Peter Fleming; foreword by the Dalai Lama, E. P. Dutton, 1954, ( ISBN   0874778883). "When the regent, after long prayers, came to the water and looked in its mirror, he had a vision of a three-storied monastery with golden roofs, near which stood a little Chinese peasant house with carved gables."
  27. 1 2 Goodman, Michael H. (1986), The Last Dalai Lama, Shambhala Publications, Boston, Massachusetts.
  28. Thubten Jigme Norbu, Heinrich Harrer, Tibet is my country, op. cit., pp. 22-24.
  29. Kong, Rudy (2010). Dragons, Donkeys, and Dust: Memoirs from a decade in China. Vancouver: Bing Long Books. pp. 197–98. ISBN   978-0-9813003-2-0.
  30. Roland Barraux, Histoire des Dalaï Lamas, Quatorze reflets sur le Lac des Visions, Albin Michel, 1993. Réédité en 2002, Albin Michel, ISBN   2-226-13317-8.
  31. Gilles van Grasdorff, Hostage of Beijing: the abduction of the Panchen Lama, Shaftesbury, Dorset ; Boston, Mass., 1999.
  32. Thubten Jigme Norbu, Tibet Is my country, autobiography dictated to Heinrich Harrer in 1959, and updated with a new essay in 1987 ( ISBN   0861710452) and 2006 ( ISBN   1425488587)
  33. "Climate: Taktser - Climate-Data.org" . Retrieved January 21, 2018.


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