Brief History of Tibet:

Tibet has a long and complex history, written records have survived from the 7th Century A.D. however it is known that nomadic tribes populated Tibet as early as the 2nd Century B.C. and discoveries suggest a much longer history of human kind. Inhabitants were probably in existence in Tibet since the later part of the Paleolithic Age, considered as the opening curtain of Tibetan history. By the Neolithic Age these inhabitants had scattered around the region which formed the basis of the Tibetan race as we know it today.

In the 7th century a famous Tibetan king Songtsen Gompo united the whole of the region and established the Tubo Dynasty. In the 7th and 8th centuries respectively two princesses from the Tang Dynasty married two Tibetan kings, as a consequence the two tribes as such, the Hans and Tubos formed a much closer relationship. Further exchanges of culture flourished and a political and economic framework was established between them and so the first collective (Tibet) was formed. This period was a truly wonderful time in the growth of the Tibetan culture.

Tibet fell into a decentralization from around 842 to 1260 A.D. following the fall of the Tubo Dynasty caused by a revolt of the common people. This period saw the region split into smaller Monastic pockets of influence. Tubo society was changing from one of bonded labour to a more open society where people had a little more independence. In the mid 13th Century Tibetan leaders had submitted to Ghenghis Khan whose central administration passed the power to Sakya Pandita who became Viceroy to Tibet. Khuble Khan himself became a convert to Tibetan Buddhism in 1270. Around 1350 Tibet had been welded back into some sort of political unit after the collapse of the Mongal Empire the power and influence of the Sakayapa Lamas declined.

In the 14th Century a reformist movement led by Tsongkapa challenged the Sakayapa,. The new school known as Gelukpa (yellow hats) gained the support of the local rulers and Mongal chiefs. In 1578 Alton Khan the Mongal ruler conferred the title of Dalai Lama (ocean of wisdom) on the third high priest of the Gelukpa sect Sonam Gyatso, this title was passed on to his two predecessors. During this period Tibet was still in dispute regarding overall power.

Between 1617 and 1682 the Great fifth Lobsan Gyatso managed to reunify Tibet and extended his authority to the borders of the region introducing a harmonious blend of Religion and Politics. With its strategic position between the great civilizations of India and China, Tibet increasingly became a pawn in the power game. It was once again plunged into chaos, when in 1720 the Chinese tore down the walls of Lhasa and quartered a large garrison there whilst annexing part of Northern Tibet. They left two Viceroys to direct foreign affairs under a Manchu leadership. In 1788 Tibet turned to China for support when faced with an invasion of the Ghurka Army in a dispute of trade and boundaries. Following a period of stalemate the Tibetans and Ghurkas made a peace pact in 1792 and Chinese influence began to expand.

By the mid 19th Century Manchu power was waning and in 1856 when faced with another Ghurka invasion the Chinese did not respond. The Nepalese exacted an annual tax on Tibet. A period followed of intense rivalry between the British Raj in India and the Russians because the British feared that the Russians wanted to control Tibet as a gateway to India.

In 1903 a British force invaded Tibet and reached Lhasa and the 13th Dalai Lama fled to Mongolia and returned in 1907 when Tibet and the British had somehow become close friends. In 1910 the Chinese once again invaded Tibet, this time the Dalai Lama took refuge in India and his return was followed by the demise of the Quing dynasty. Tibet expelled the remaining Chinese troops to an area which roughly defines the border of Autonomous Tibet and China today. There was a period of peace for over twenty years and although Tibet was not officially recognized by other nations it maintained a De Facto status.

During the second World War, Tibet was neutral and when India became independent in 1947 and the threat of British resistance disappeared, the Chinese invaded Tibet again in 1949. Tibetan forces were no match for the invaders. The 14th Dalai Lama had no choice but to find an agreement with the Chinese and in 1951 a seventeen point peaceful liberation agreement was signed. This agreement left Tibet to handle its internal affairs allowing freedom of religion, whilst China took control of the military and broader political affairs of the country, Tibet also agreeing to give up any right to independence.

The following few years one saw the Chinese gradually carving off bits of the country whilst growing in influence all over Tibet. New roads and projects were being constructed and it was evident the Chinese had little time for the Religion and Culture. Increasingly Human rights were being suppressed which culminated in a major uprising by the Tibetan people in 1959. This was brutally put down by China with the Dalai Lama fleeing to India where he still resides today. Nowadays, Tibet still remains under Chinese control despite condemnation from all parts of the free World.

  • About Tibet.
  • Tibet History.
  • Travel Info
  • Festivals in Tibet.
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