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Chinese History - Tubo 吐蕃 Tibet

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Tubo 吐蕃, often erroneously read Tufan, was the great Tibetan kingdom that flourished from the 7th to the 9th centuries and whose military and diplomatic acitivities had a great impact on the Chinese Tang empire's 唐 (618-907) withdrawal from its colonies in the Western Territories 西域. The Tibetan name of the country was Bod, from which the Chinese name 蕃 is derived.
Ancient Chinese sources tell the Tibetans one of the Western Qiang 西羌 tribes that lived of pastoral nomadism on the Qinghai Plateau and the Tibetan Highland. Yet some of them also engaged in agriculture and planted barley, wheat and buckwheat. During the late 6th century the Tibetan tribe of the Yarlung living in a side-valley of River Tsanpo was unified under one leader whose position was called btsan-po (Chinese rendering zanpu 贊普). The king was assisted in government by a senior counsellor (blon chen, Chinese translation dalun 大論) and a junior counsellor (blon chung, Chinese translation xiaolun 小論). In 629 King Srong brtsan sgampo (Song-tsen Gam-po, Chinese rendering Songzan ganbu 松贊干布, r. 618-641) conquered the lands of Sapi 薩毗 and Yangtong 羊同 in Eastern Tibet and created the kingdom of Great Tibet. His capital was Lhasa, in Chinese sources called Luoxie 邏些 (modern form Lasa 拉薩). Tibet established not only economic, but also diplomatic relationships with the Chinese Tang empire 唐 (618-907) and the states of India. From both countries, ideas of government, religion and literature came to Tibet. Tibet adopted the Brahmi script of India, juristictional and economic rules from India and China, as well as administrative and military patterns from China. Tibet soon became a militarily prevalent state and dominated the peoples of the Tuyuhun 吐谷渾 and the Tanguts 黨項 that lived in the regions of modern Gansu and Qinghai. The government of Tibet came to know that the Chinese used a kind of alliance system with their powerful vassals by exchanging princesses (heqin 和親 "peace by marriage") and therefore also required a Chinese princess, like the Turks 突厥 and the Tuyuhun. In 640 Princess Wencheng 文成公主 was married to the king of Tibet. The Tibetan king therefore supported the Tang commissioner Wang Xuance 王玄策 in a campaign against the Indian king Arunashwa (Chinese rendering Aluonashun 阿羅那順). Yet a few decades later the Tibetans destroyed the realm of the Tuyuhun and threatened the regions of Longyou 隴右 and Hexi 河西, the westernmost provinces of the Tang empire. They also conquered the Greater and Lesser Burusho 大小勃律 and critically endangered the Chinese control over their Protectorate of the Pacified West (anxi duhufu 安西都護府), and often battled with Tang troops and Turkish units. In spite of all military conflicts the Tang court in 709 married Princess Jincheng 金城公主 to king Khri lde gtsug brstan (Tri-de Tsug-ten, Chinese rendering Qilai suozan 棄隶蹜贊, r. 704/12-755). The Princess was bestowed a bath town in the region of Hexi that served as her appanage. The Tibetans therefore incessantly attacked the province of Hexi. The Tang government therefore enforced the garrisons in that region and entrusted the military commissioners (jiedushi 節度使) with a higher military power. This situation lasted until the mid-8th century, when Tang China was disturbed by the rebellion of An Lushan and lost control over many provinces. The Chinese protectorate in the west finally fell into the hands of the Turks, the Uyghurs 回鶻 and the Tibetans who contended for power over the citystates on the Silk Road. The kings of Tibet could even gain control over the kingdom of Nanzhao 南詔 in the modern province of Yunnan that had been a vassal to the Tang empire until that date.
Tibet had become one of the largest empires in Asia and covered not only the area of what it today known as the so-called Autonomous Region of Xizang (Tibet), but also parts of Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan, and of Yunnan. In 763 Tibetan troops even sacked the Tang capital Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi). Tibetan pressure on the Tang empire only slackened from 789 on when the Tang were able to establish an alliance with the Uyghurian khanate and the king of Nanzhao again declared his status as a vassal to the Tang. The politics of conflict were thereafter replaced by attempts at realliance. In 823 a bilateral treatise between Tibet and Tang China was declarated, and a bilingual stele was erected in Lhasa commemorating the unity of the two empires. In 842 Glang darma (Lang Darma, Chinese rendering Lang Dama 郎達瑪, r. 842-846) died without a heir. The Yarlung dynasty had come to an end, and the throne passed on to the late king's brother-in-law, but the latter was challenged by a large number of members of the Tibetan aristocracy, and the unified kingdom of Tubo disintegrated. Some border regions returned to be part of the Tang empire, like Dunhuang 敦煌 that was transformed into the military prefecture of Shazhou 沙州.
With the advent of Buddhism in Tibet society changed to a large extent. The native religion of Tibet was a religion called Bon or Bön, a kind of shamanism with mystical and shamanistic features. It was enriched by a kind of late Buddhism that is often called "esoteric". One of the most important features of this so-called Tantric Buddhism is the use of a special kind of incantations that are called tantra. In Tibet this late Indian Buddhism was merged with shamanic forms of religion, in which the priests (lama) played a very important spiritual role. Tibetan Buddhism is therefore also known under the name of Lamaism. King Khri srong lde brtsan (Tri-song De-tsen, Chinese rendering Qisong dezan 棄松德贊, r. 756-797) initiated the office of chos-plon ཆོས་བློན་ (Chinese rendering quelun 卻論), a monk counsellor and so laid the foundation of the later influence of religion on lay government.

Kings (btsanpo "zanpu" 贊普) of Tubo 吐蕃 618-846
title [read like] (other name) Chinese version (other name) time
Srong brtsan sgampo [Song-tsen Gam-po] (Khri srong brtsan) Songzan ganbu 松贊干布 (Qizong nongzan 棄宗弄贊)618-641
Gung srong gung brtsan 641-646
Srong brtsan sgampo (again) 646-649
(Khri) Mang srong mang brtsan [Mang-song Mang-tsen] Mangsong mangzan 芒松芒贊 650-677
Khri 'Dus srong [Dü-song Mang-po-je] Qidusong 棄都松 (Qinuxinong 器弩悉弄, Dusong mangbujie 都松芒布結)677-704
Lha 704-705
Khri ma lod 705-712
Khri lde gtsug brstan [Tri-de Tsug-ten] (Mes ag tshoms) Qilai suozan 棄隶蹜贊 (Chide zuzan 赤德祖贊) 712-755
Khri srong lde brtsan [Tri-song De-tsen] Qisong dezan 棄松德贊 (Qilisulongliezan 乞黎蘇籠獵贊)756-797
Mu ne btsanpo [Mu-ne Tsen-po] Mouni zanpu 牟尼贊普 (Zuzhijian 足之煎)797-799
Khri lde srong brtsan [Tri-de Song-tsen] (San na legs [Se-na-lek]) Chide songzan 赤德松贊 (Sainalei 賽那累)799-815
Khri gtsug lde brtsan [Tri-tsug De-tsen] (Ral pa can) Chizu dezan 赤祖德贊 (Kelikezu 可黎可足, Rebajin 熱巴巾)
-----Yitai 彝泰 815-838
Khri 'U'i dum brtsan 838-842
Glang darma [Lang Darma] Lang Dama 郎達瑪, Damo 達磨842-846

The Dalai Lamas "Dalai lama 達賴喇嘛"
No., title Chinese version time
I Gendün Drub Gendun Zhuba 根敦朱巴 1391-1474
II Gyalwa Gendün Gyatso Gendun jiacuo 根敦嘉措 1475-1542
III Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso Sunan jiacuo 素南嘉措 1543-1588
IV Yönten Gyatso Yundan jiacuo 云丹嘉措 1589-1617
V Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso Awang luosang jiacuo 阿旺羅桑嘉措 1616-1682
VI Rigdzin Jamyang Gyatso Cangyang jiacuo 倉央嘉措 1683-1706
VII Kelsang Gyatso Gasang jiacuo 噶桑嘉措 1708-1757
VIII Jampel Gyatso Qiangbai jiacuo 強白嘉措 1758-1804
IX Lungtog Gyatso Longduo jiacuo 隆朵嘉措 1806-1815
X Tsültrim Gyatso Chuchen jiacuo 楚臣嘉措 1816-1837
XI Kedrub Gyatso Kaizhu jiacuo 凱珠嘉措 1838-1856
XII Trinle Gyatso Chenglie jiacuo 成烈嘉措 1856-1875
XIII Thubten Gyatso Tudeng jiacuo 土登嘉措 1876-1933
XIV Tenzin Gyatso Danzeng jiacuo 丹增嘉措 1933-

Source: Wang Furen 王輔仁 (1992), "Tubo 吐蕃", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu), Vol. 2, pp. 1164-1165.

February 6, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail