• by Nance
  • Last Updated: 2020-01-15

Tibet, known as the roof top of the world or the snow land, encompasses vast stretches of lofty plateaus and towering mountains. The world’s highest and largest plateau-the Tibetan plateau has an area of 2500000 square kilometers and an elevation exceeding 4900 meters. The world’s highest Mount Everest has been located in the same. It's tens and thousands of glaciers serve as a “water tower” storing water and maintaining flow.

The history of Tibet can be traced back to 4000 to 5000 years ago when snow dominated the land. Life was budding. Stone contraptions dominated the household. The legends have it that Tibetan people originated from the union of a monkey and a female demon.

1 Imperial Age (602-842)


It was not until the 7th century that the people living in Tibet were referred to as a race with the emergence of the Tibetan empire. The first powerful dynasty that emerged in this region was YARLUNG DYNASTY. This kingdom also known as the TUBO KINGDOM was founded by the most intelligent and zealous king SONGTSEN GAMPO (604-650). He married two princesses from Nepal and Tang dynasty. The princesses brought with them advancements in technology and a new wave of culture, customs and most importantly BUDDHISM. So two religions started to be practiced in the snowy land. One was indigenous BON and the other BUDDHISM. Over the years, Buddhism became the state religion. This empire exercised a powerful influence in central Asia. The Yarlung dynasty saw its peak in the 780’s and 790’s, when it controlled a territory stretching from modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The imperial age came to an end with the assassination of KING LANGDARMA followers of Bon religion in 842. With the fall of this dynasty, Tibet soon divided into various territories.

2 Era Of Fragmentation 

 From 9th to 13th century the political control over Tibet was divided. There was no central governing authority. Islam set foot in the land in 1206 through an invasion from Bengal. The downfall of Yarlung dynasty left Tibet in a power vacuum with Buddhist having a dominant role in society and the indigenous Bon shrunk in the background.

3 Sakya Rule

Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism

Tibet history after the fall the Tupo Regime, there are 400 years of division and wars in Tibet. At the beginning of 13th century, Genghis Khan unified China. Later, his grandson called Godan Khan, unified Tibet with the help of the local religious power. In 1247, Godan Khan learned that the Sakya sect was the most powerful sect in Tibet, so he decided to Sakya Pandita and his two nephews served as delegates of Tibet's political leadership. In addition, Sakya Pandita was encouraged by Godan to invent a Mongolian script called 'Phags-pa script.

In the year of 1260, Khubli Khan became Emperor of the Yuan dynasty. He not only granted Basiba the position of the spiritual leader but also presented him with a jade seal. From that time, Basiba took charge of national Buddhism affairs and administrative affairs of Tibet. In the year of 1265, Basiba enlarged Sakya Monastery. In order to administer the local affairs in Tibet, he also established Sakya kingdom. From there on, Tibet became associated with Chinese empire but retained its autonomy. The Buddhist monks, however, enjoyed influence in Mongolian courts. The Mongols set up the Yuan dynasty with Sakya acting as political authority and the Mongols holding administrative and military control.

4 Pazhu Regime

 When Yuan Dynasty declined, Pazhu Regime appeared and instead of Sakya Regime. In the 12th Century, Dogyi Gyepu set up Pazhu Regime. It was just a little regime at that time. Pazhu Regime became a popular local authority when it was led by Yunqin Gyewa Gyabao. In 1354, Gyangqiu Gyanzam occupied Sakya Monastery and replaced the Sakya authorities. Emperor Shun of Yuan Dynasty bestowed an official seal authorized him to govern Tibet.

At that time, as the lack of religious discipline and the corruption of monks, Buddhist sects lost their support for the people. Tsongkhapa who advocated religious reform gained great support from the Pazhu Government. In Pazhu Regime, there was twelve generation of Kings who ruled Tibet for 264 years from 1354 to 1618.

5 Collapse of Serfdom

The Ming dynasty of China came to power after thwarting the attack of the Dzungar Mongols on China. Tibet at that time was unstable. It was made an autonomous state by the Ming rulers with military and administrative powers in their hands. Dalai Lama was restored as the ruler.

Sino-Sikh war broke in 1834 over Sikh’s annexation of Ladakh. The war ended with a treaty of Chushul between both the parties. During the mid 19th century the control of Qing dynasty declined over China. Subsequently, its authority over Tibet also became minimal.

In the early 20th century, Russia wanted control over Tibet as a part of its plan to expand in Central Asia. Tibet became the strategic point. At the same time, the British were also extending their influence over north India and considered Tibet as a critical region to maintain their superiority in sub-continent region.

The British expeditions preferred negotiations with the 13th Dali Lama to Chinese representatives to gain influence over the snow land. The British invasion of 1903 resulted in hundreds of Tibetans fatalities. In 1908, the 13th Dali Lama went to Beijing where Emperor Guangxu met him and his title as Dalai Lama was officially approved.

In 1910, the Qing government united Tibet and establish direct Chinese rule. Dalai Lama fled to British-India. However, the Qing rule in Tibet was highly unpopular.

The Qing rule was ended by XINHAI REVOLUTION who founded the Republic of China. In 1940, the government of Republic of China wanted to restore Dalai Lama, apologizing for the actions of Qing Government. So the government hosted the bed-sitting ceremony for the 14th Dalai, Danzengjiacuo.

6 Establishment of Tibet Autonomous Region

In 1949, The People’s Republic of China was founded. In 1951, Tibet was liberated peacefully by the government. The feudal serfdom in Tibet was abolished. In September 1965, Tibet Autonomous Region was established.

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