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Unformatted text preview: TIBET 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R SAM VAN SCHAIK TIBET A HISTORY YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS NEW HAVEN AND LONDON 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R Copyright © 2011 Sam van Schaik All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press) without written permission from the publishers. For information about this and other Yale University Press publications, please contact: U.S. Office: [email protected] Europe Office: [email protected] Set in Minion Pro by IDSUK (DataConnection) Ltd Printed in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Van Schaik, Sam. Tibet: a history/Sam van Schaik. p. cm. ISBN 978-0-300-15404-7 (cl:alk. paper) 1. Tibet (China)—History. I. Title. DS786.V35 2011 951′.5—dc22 2010040518 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 For my daughters v 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R Contents List of Illustrations and Maps viii Acknowledgements xi Note On Pronouncing Tibetan Words Preface xiii xv 1 Tibet Appears, 600–700 1 2 The Holy Buddhist Empire, 700–797 21 3 Keepers of the Flame, 797–1054 41 4 Patrons and Priests, 1054–1315 61 5 Golden Age, 1315–1543 85 6 The Rise and Fall of the Dalai Lamas, 1543–1757 114 7 The Balancing Act, 1757–1904 146 8 Independence, 1904–1950 180 9 Under the Red Flag, 1950–1959 207 10 Two Tibets, 1959 to the Present 238 Notes 270 Bibliography 292 Index 304 vii 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R Illustrations Rights were not granted to include these illustrations in electronic media. Please refer to print publication. PLATES (between pp. 104 and 105) 1 2 Statue of Songtsen Gampo, Potala Palace. An ancient stone lion on top of the tomb of one of the tsenpos. Photograph Amy Heller. 3 Statues representing the three dharma kings, Palkor Chode. Photograph Amy Heller. 4 Detail from a painted scroll, attributed to Yan Liben, National Palace, Beijing. 5 Wall painting thought to depict a Tibetan tsenpo and his entourage, early ninth century, Dunhuang Cave 159. 6 Traditional Tibetan military costume, 1921. Charles Bell Collection 1112/1(64). © The British Library. 7 The ruins of the Tibetan fort at Mazar Tagh. Photograph Rachel Roberts. 8 Statue of the Tibetan queen of Songtsen Gampo and her son, the crown prince Gungsong Gungtsen. Photograph Panglung Rinpoche. 9 The Old Tibetan Annals. IOL Tib J 750. © The British Library. 10 Samye, entrance to the central temple, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection 1112/5(447). © The British Library. 11 Samye monastery, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection 1112/5(447). © The British Library. viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS 12 The Lhasa treaty pillar. Photograph Kazushi Iwao. 13 Detail of the inscription in Tibetan and Chinese on the Lhasa treaty pillar. Photograph Kazushi Iwao. 14 The stupa built by Yeshe O, Toling, Western Tibet. Photograph Lionel Fournier. 15 The cave retreat of Gewa Rabsel, Dantig, Amdo. Photograph Imre Galambos. 16 Statue of Padmasambhava, in a temple in the Chumbi Valley, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection 1112/5(78). © The British Library. 17 Statue of Gesar, in the Gesar temple, Shigatse, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection 1112/5(270). © The British Library. (between pp. 232 and 233) 18 Schematic drawing of the Potala, from the Wise maps. Add.Or.3013. © The British Library. 19 Painting of the fifth Dalai Lama meeting the Manchu emperor, Potala Palace. 20 Illuminated manuscript showing Milarepa building towers for Marpa. Or.16756. © The British Library. 21 Illuminated manuscript showing Milarepa in his cave, teaching a hunter. Or.16756. © The British Library. 22 Two dob-dobs, or fighting monks, holding their staves, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(245). © The British Library. 23 A geko, or monastic keeper of discipline, with ritual mace, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(312). © The British Library. 24 Two monks in religious debate, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(307). © The British Library. 25 A Nyingma monk holding a rosary, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(17). © The British Library. 26 A Ngagpa holding a prayer wheel, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(70). © The British Library. 27 A Bonpo priest with religious implements, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(76). © The British Library. 28 A Gelug tulku with religious implements, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/1(195). © The British Library. 29 A monastic official of Tashilhunpo with servant and dog, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(264). © The British Library. ix 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R 30 A Tibetan noblewoman from Gyantse wearing ceremonial headdress, 1910–20. W.P. Rosemeyer, 1112/3(171). 31 A government official from the Palha family in his tent at Gyantse, 1933–34. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/5(367). © The British Library. 32 A minor lay official in ceremonial garb, 1920–21. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/3(76). © The British Library. 33 Portrait of George Bogle (Younghusband, Francis. 1910. India and Tibet. pl.2). 34 Francis Younghusband in Tibet, 1903. MSS Eur F197/646(31). © The British Library. 35 The fort (dzong) at Gyantse, 1910–20. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/1(365). © The British Library. 36 Charles Bell seated with the thirteenth Dalai Lama and the crown prince of Sikkim, Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal, in 1910. Charles Bell Collection, 1112/1(402). © The British Library. 37 Ngapo presenting a ceremonial scarf (katag) to Mao after the signing of the Seventeen-Point Agreement, 1951 (Xinhua). 38 Mao with the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, 1954 (Xinhua). MAPS 1 2 3 4 5 Modern China and its neighbours. The Tibetan empire in the eighth to the ninth centuries. Tibet. Central Tibet and Tsang. Lhasa. x xix xx xxi xxii xxiii Acknowledgements It is only possible to write a book like this because the Tibetans have maintained a vibrant tradition of historical writing, whether in anonymous works like the Old Tibetan Annals and the Testament of Ba, or religious histories by scholars like Go Lotsawa Zhonupal and Pawo Tsuglag Trengwa. I also owe much to contemporary scholars from all over the world who have written historical studies of Tibet. My debt to them is evident in the notes and bibliography. However the importance of the late E. Gene Smith is perhaps not adequately represented there. For his personal encouragement and assistance, and his staggering achievements in bringing the literature of Tibetan Buddhism to the West, he is much missed. The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center, which he founded, is now a wonderful online library of Tibetan works. I want to thank my parents, Paul and Barbara van Schaik, who have spent a lifetime in international aid work all over the world. Thanks to them I was able to experience in my formative years Tibetan culture at first hand among the exiles of Kathmandu, and in the remote mountains and monasteries of Bhutan. I would also like to acknowledge two Nyingma monks from Bhutan, Tsultrim and Dawa. Here in England, for guiding me to the study of Tibet, I owe everything to my teacher Lama Jampa Thaye. To him, and to Karma Thinley Rinpoche and His Holiness Sakya Trizin as well, I owe any understanding I have of the Tibetan Buddhist dharma. The help and advice of many people has been instrumental in the publication of this book. In particular, it would not exist at all without Malcolm Gerratt of Yale University Press. It was a pleasure to work with him and the other staff xi 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R of the London office of Yale University Press. I am lucky to have colleagues in the field of Tibetan Studies who are immensely generous with their time. It would take up too much space here to name them all, but I must thank Dan Martin, whose impeccable scholarship is matched with a determination to share its results. I also thank Robert Barnett, Jacob Dalton and Tsuguhito Takeuchi who offered useful advice which changed this book for the better. I am hugely grateful for the support of Susan Whitfield, director of the International Dunhuang Project, without which I could neither have started nor finished this book. I would also like to thank Amy Heller for her generosity in providing images, and John Falconer for guiding me through the British Library’s photographic collections. I am indebted to many other colleagues at the British Library, including Imre Galambos, an entertaining travel companion whose fascination with Chinese history and manuscript culture is infectious; Burkhard Quessel, whose bibliographic knowledge of Tibet never fails to amaze; and Frances Wood, always generous with her time and good advice. Finally, my wife Ananda has provided encouragement, forbearance, and a model of intellectual rigour that has informed all of my work. xii Note on Pronouncing Tibetan Words The transliteration of foreign scripts is never straightforward, but Tibetan is famously difficult. The Wylie system is now nearly standard, but those who are unfamiliar with the Tibetan language will recoil in horror from tangles of consonants like bsgrubs. Therefore I have used a phonetic system loosely based on the way these words are pronounced in Central Tibet, that should be fairly easy to read. Vowels should be pronounced as follows: a – similar to the ‘u’ sound in ‘butter’ e – similar to the ‘e’ sound in ‘better’ i – similar to the ‘i’ sound in ‘bitter’ o – similar to the ‘o’ in ‘or’ u – similar to the ‘u’ in ‘put’ Note that the final e (in words like Derge) is always sounded. The vowels a, o, and u change their sound somewhat when placed before certain consonants and this is sometimes shown with diacritics, but I have not done that here. Though this does mean that the true pronunciation of Tibetan words is not fully represented, the absence of accents and tremas on the page is probably better for the reader encountering Tibetan names for the first time. Those who are interested in studying the Tibetan language may like to look at one of the introductory books on the subject, such as Steven Hodge’s An Introduction to Classical Tibetan (Orchid Press, 2003) or the Manual of Standard Tibetan by Nicholas Tournadre and Sanga Dorje (Snow Lion, 2003). xiii 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R Preface Where is Tibet? It can be difficult to locate, even in a bookshop. Uncertain or nervous booksellers rarely seem to know what to do with books on Tibet. Some stick them straight onto the ‘China’ shelf. Some, aware that this is an unpopular strategy among many outside China, find a corner somewhere in ‘Asia, General’. Others transcend the whole geographical issue by putting their books on Tibet on the ‘Buddhism’ shelves, allowing Tibet to float entirely free of complicated questions of politics and place. And there’s a certain university library in London where it has become customary to deface the sign on the shelves containing books on Tibet: ‘China’ is scratched out and ‘Tibet’ written under it; then somebody else comes and scratches out ‘Tibet’ and writes ‘China’ again. And so on. The plight of these books is indicative of the confusion surrounding the status of Tibet itself. Look at a map for another example. Where, on the map, is Tibet? Some modern writers make a distinction between ‘political Tibet’, which is the area within the borders of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and ‘ethnographic Tibet’, a wider territory sharing a language and culture that are still recognisably Tibetan. This wider concept of Tibet overlaps with four other Chinese provinces – Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan – and the Himalayan kingdoms of Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim and Ladakh. The Tibetans have their own version of this distinction, which goes back many centuries. They speak of the central region of the country, roughly corresponding to the modern Autonomous Region, as ‘Tibet’ (Bod, pronounced bö), and the wider realm of Tibetan culture as ‘Greater Tibet’ (Bod chen po). xv 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R PREFACE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R As if this were not confusing enough, we also have political ideologies distorting any attempt to define Tibet. The clash of ideologies was particularly obvious in March 2009, a troubled anniversary for Tibet. Half a century early protests against the Chinese presence in Lhasa resulted in the flight of the Dalai Lama to India, the violent suppression of the protestors and the swift dismantling of traditional Tibet. As the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan government in exile prepared to mark the anniversary with speeches calling for an end to the Communist Party’s repressive regime in Tibet, the Chinese government announced that the same anniversary was to be celebrated as ‘serf liberation day’. It has become clear that the debate over Tibet’s identity has turned into a war of wildly differing visions. In a war like this, history plays perhaps the most important role. Arguments supporting the current state of Tibet as a region of China reach back to the Manchu dynasty in the eighteenth century, and further still, to the great Mongol empire in the thirteenth century and the Tibetan empire in the seventh. Such arguments are countered by Tibetan claims that their empire was once the equal of the Chinese, and that later relationships with the Mongols and Manchus (who were not, in any case, Chinese) were on the model of the relationship between religious patrons and their priests. Then there are the arguments about what life was like in Tibet before the Communist reforms of the 1960s. Was it, as some claim, a spiritual paradise, a prelapsarian world in which everyone was happy with their lot, motivated by compassion and striving only for the highest Buddhist goal of freeing all living beings from suffering? Or was it a place of medieval suffering, in which peasants were bound to their lord’s manor for life, their lack of freedom compounded by their ignorance in a system that privileged the monks and the aristocracy? The Chinese have characterised traditional Tibet as a ‘hell on earth’. Countering them, the Dalai Lama has spoken of life in modern Tibet using the very same words. Thus the year 1959 has become a line dividing good from evil, like the symbol of yin and yang, but with the black and white constantly switching from one side to another depending on who is speaking. There is, of course, more to Tibet than is allowed for by these polemics, and there is more to Tibet’s history than its relationship with China. Indeed, there is much more than any of the clichés allow. For over a thousand years most Tibetans were Buddhists, and Tibetan history features some of the most inspiring saints of any religious tradition. But that did not prevent Tibet being a dangerous and often violent place where travellers carried swords, and later xvi PREFACE guns, at all times. In Eastern Tibet violence might be prolonged for generations by blood feuds in vicious cycles of revenge. Everywhere life was highly stratified by the distinctions between the aristocratic minority and the mass of ordinary peasants and nomads. This is only to say that the same factors found in every other pre-modern society were active in Tibet. And why should they not have been? Romantic visions of Tibet tend to make Tibetans unrecognisable as ordinary people. But their adherence to Buddhism did not lessen their enjoyment of drinking, dancing and music. Nor did it lessen their anxieties about ordinary things such as birth, marriage and livelihood. Rather than trusting such things entirely to the impersonal force of karma, they often turned to ritualists who specialised in placating the gods, demons and spirits that populated the sky, land and rivers. It has been said that Tibet is special because it has been so isolated throughout its history, cut off from the world by its high mountains. But it is equally valid to see Tibet as being deeply involved with other cultures throughout its history. In the early days of the Tibetan empire, Tibetans were influenced by cultures as far afield as Persia, Nepal and Korea. Lhasa has always been thronged with merchants and pilgrims travelling from distant countries, and for many centuries had its own Muslim community. Indeed, Tibet’s history simply cannot be understood without acknowledging its intimate connections to other peoples and powers. These connections, and not a mythical isolation, are what have made Tibet what it is today. Even to talk about ‘Tibet’ is to simplify and distort; the distinction between ‘political’ and ‘ethnographic’ Tibet is itself an oversimplification. People from the eastern regions of Kham and Amdo have always identified themselves as Khampas and Amdowas rather than Tibetans, and have sometimes been more closely connected to their Chinese neighbours than to Central Tibet. Until the twentieth century these local ties tended to be stronger than any notion of a Greater Tibet, and they still threaten modern attempts to forge an overarching Tibetan identity. Likewise, a shared adherence to Buddhism did not curtail individual allegiances to particular religious schools or monasteries; nor did it prevent struggles, sometimes violent, from breaking out between monasteries. Perhaps the greatest misrepresentation of Tibet is that it was unchanging. The tensions, divergences and connections to the outside world that defined it have led to centuries of dynamic movement, with the political and religious landscape of Tibet constantly subject to change. These changes have sometimes been xvii 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R PREFACE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 37R gradual and almost imperceptible; at other times they have been cataclysmic. Though it came late to modernity, Tibet’s many violent political upheavals, religious ferments, and artistic and literary developments match those of other countries before the Industrial Revolution. How can one write a history of Tibet when we can hardly say where ‘Tibet’ begins or ends, when it exists in so many places at once? The writer of such a history can only hope to capture something of this diverse, ever-changing realm and the complex people who have inhabited it. There is an idea in Buddhism, tendrel, which is often translated into English as ‘interdependent origination’. What it means is that every event is suspended in a fragile network of causes and conditions without which it could not be. The Buddha said that only the omniscient could know the full complexity of causes behind even a single event. It is an apt lesson for anyone who would write history. We can glimpse a cause here, a condition there, but the complete view will probably only ever reveal itself to the omniscient. This history, this book, is a narrative, and any narrative is limited to the point of view of particular people and events. It is necessa...
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