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From: China Tibet Information Cenrter 2007-04-27 13:54:00
by: Deng Ruiling, translate by Chen Guansheng
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The story and significance of prince Chanhua offering tribute to and requesting a new title from the Qing Court in the early Qing period

On the basis of Chinese and Tibetan historical materials, Mr. Z. Ahmad in his Sino-Tibetan Relations in the iJth Century, published in 1970 , gave a description of Prince ChanhuaQit. Prince of the Propagation of the Doctrine of the Buddha)repeatedly requesting a new title from the Qing court during the reign of Emperor Shunzhi.' Prince Chanhua's title was originally granted by the Ming court. I would like to add some historical materials and an explanation to Ahmad's description. Judging from the overall situation at that time, I will explain the significance of the whole affair, outline the actions of the Qing court and the Tibetan local rulers , and draw a conclusion that the depa(sde pa)appointed by the fifth Dalai lama attached great importance to the titles and seals of authority granted by the Ming and Qing courts and that it was the depa's tradition to pledge allegiance to the Qing court.

First, I will outline records on the Tibetan princes sending envoys to the capital city during the Ming dynasty. At the end of the Ming dynasty, from the 1620s to the 1640s, turmoil and rebellions spread throughout the country, and the records kept in the imperial court were lost. So, after coming over the Shanhaiguan Pass, the Qing court decided in 1648 to compile the History of the Ming Dynasty, and it found out that the"Documentary Records" of the first and the seventh year ofTianqi's reign (1621 and 1627) and all the official records from the first year of Chongzhen period (1628) to the fall ofMing (1644) were also lost.

The Qing government issued orders that the whole country collect all official documents and archives of the former Ming. With this effort, the History of the Ming Dynasty was compiled and edited from the materials collected from the Ming"Government Bulletins"and memorials from high officials.2 Now we know from the materials edited by the Qing the following: "On the fifth day of the second month in the first year ofTianqi's reign (1621), the Prince of Virtue Donyod Gyaltsen sent his Tibetan monks as envoys to offer horses and local products as tribute to the imperial court; they were given a reward as usual."

"On the second day of the fifth month in the first year ofTianqi's reign (1621),the Propagation Prince of Doctrine ofU-Tsang and the Pacification Commisson ofChangheshi offered tribute as usual." "On the seventeenth day of the eighth lunar month in the sixth year ofTianqi's reign (1626), the Guardian Prince of the Doctrine and the Pacification of Dongbuhanhu offered tribute."[3]

The Diary of a Journey to China's Capital, written by a Korean official named Hong Gao in the fifth year of Chongzhen's reign (1632), contains a record of the official's mission to Peking. It says: "The fourth day of the eleventh month year. Fine. Governor Yan Lai came. Soon afterwards he went to North Mansion to meet Tibetan monks. It is said that the name of their kingdom is called lama and the name of their king is the Propagadtion Prince of the Doctrine."[4]

At present, there remain only these few passages in Chinese documents about the Tibetan ruling lamas sending envoys to captial Peking during the last 20-odd years of the Ming dynasty In fact, during the period from the first year ofTianqi's reign (1621) when Tu Yin of the Yi ethnic group launched a rebellion against the Ming court and led his troops to march forward to Chengdu, until the fifteenth year of the Chongzhen period (1642), when Li Zicheng's troops captured Xining.[5]  and the seventeenth year of Chongzhen(1644),when Zhang Xianzhong occupied Chengdu,6 even if the Tibetan ruling lamas tried to offer tribute to the Ming court as they had done before, communications were blocked and their envoys were blocked at the border of Sichuan and Shaanxi; the envoys could not travel on to Peking. A memorial from the Gansu governor to the imperial court in the fourth year of Shunzhi's reign (1647) may be used as supporting evidence: the governor reported that the Uygurs and the Chijin Mongols from Hami who tried to go to the capital to offer tribute were still at Suzhou and could not go further.[7]

As to offering tribute to the Ming court by Prince Chanhua, it was recorded in the Documentary Records of the Ming Court that the last tribute was made in the forty-sixth year of Wanli's reign . It was until thirty years later that Prince Chanhua resumed contacts with the Central imperial court, during the first years of the Qing dynasty On the eighth day of the sixth lunar month (July 27) in the fifth year of Shunzhi period (1648) of the Qing dynasty, the Qing court received envoys sent by Prince Chanhua from Tibet. The record, which is in Manchu script and is still kept in the First Historical Archive, runs as follows: "On the eighth day of the sixth lunar month, Prince Chanhua of U-Tsang sent seven envoys headed by Sonam Drashi Lama and Onbum Bandi, together with eight attendants, to the imperial court. Sangphu and Rabjampa and twenty other lamas came from Bazhou (the Bazhou Monastery was in present-day Minhe County of Qinghai Province; monks from the monastery often came to offer service to the Qing court, and they were highly thought of by the imperial court ); Sherab Hutuktu of Guihua (present-day Hohhot) sent his cousin Lobom Orje and two others to the capital. There were altogether forty people and they were received and given a sumptuous banquet by the Board of Rites."[8]

The Documentary Records of the ^s^ing Dynasty points out that the name of Prince Chanhua was Wangchuk: "On the eighth day of the sixth lunar month in the fifth year of Shunzhi's reign(i648), the U-Tsang Propagation Prince of Doctrine (or Prince Chanhua) sent his envoy Guoshi Sonam Drashi to offer local products; the latter was given a grand banquet as usual."(Guoshi is probably a transliteration of'State Preceptor." Sonam Drashi might have already been bestowed with a title of State Preceptor by the Ming court). On the twenty eighth day of the seventh lunar month (September) of the same year, the emperor issued a decree to Prince Chanhua and bestowed on Sonam Drashi the title of "Wonderful Wisdom Initiation State Preceptor." The imperial decree was written in Mongolian, and it was identical with an entry of the Xin Mao day in the seventh lumar month of the fifth year of Shunzhi's reign in the Documentary Records of the fs^mg Dynasty, which says: "I, the Emperor, am very pleased that you have sent envoys to submit a letter to show allegiance to me. Now the territory within the four seas has become unified. I will treat all the peoples, including those in the far frontier lands, with equality without discrimination.

It has become a tradition that you people, devotees to Buddhism in the western region, submit ourselves to the Central Government. If you hand in the title-granting certificates and seals given to you by the ex-Ming court, I will reappoint you to your previous posts."[9]

At the time the emperor was in his minority and Dorgon the Regent was in charge of all political affairs. The Qing court had only North China and the lower reaches of the Yangtze River under its control, while Southwest and Central South China were still in the hands of the Ming Emperor Ybngli; the Ming generals who had already surrendered to the Qing now launched rebellions inJiangxi and Guangdong; the Muslim Hui people launched rebellions in Gansu in the Northwest; even public order around the capital of Peking was in a deplorable condition. The relations between the Qing court and the Kharkha Mongols to the north of the Gobi Desert were tense and hostile. The Qing court had tried to invite the Dalai Lama and other Gelukpa ruling lamas who could exercise influence on the Kharkhas to Peking, but had not yet gotten a reply to the invitation. Under such circumstances, it was a matter of course that the Qing court would give much attention to the coming of the envoys sent by Prince Chanhua, whose title was granted by the ex-Ming court. The connection between the imperial court and Prince Chanhua had been broken for many years. The Qing court expected that Prince Chanhua would hand in the certificate and seal of authority granted by the Ming court, thus showing that he had ended the relationship with the Ming. The Qing court had made similar demands on Turpan and Liuqiu , and then on Tibetan ruling lamas of Gansu and Qinghai, and on the Tusi (local hereditary headmen) in Central-South and Southwestern China.

In addition to granting the title of State Preceptor to Sonam Drashi, the envoy of Prince Chanhua, the Qing court bestowed on Prince Chanhua brocade and silver and ordered that the Horse Trading Offices at Hezhou, Xining, and Lanzhou provide Prince Chanhua with 36,000 jin of tea. This amount of tea was quite big, especially when compared with the amount of tea the Qing court allocated in the second year of the Yongzheng reign (1724) to the Dalai Lama,which was 5,000 jin annually, while that to the Panchen Lama was 2,500 jin. The bestowal of tea on Prince Chanhua was almost equivalent to a five-year allocation to the Dalai and Panchen.

On the twenty-fourth day of the sixth lunar month of the next year (August 2,1649), the Board of Revenue submitted a letter to the imperial court, reporing that the amount of tea stored up by the Horse Trading Offices at Hezhou Xining, Taozhou and Minahou was small; if the allocation was to be made in full, there would be no tea in storage for horse trade, so the Board of Revenue suggested that only half of the bestowal be given in tea, while the other half be given in silver money, which would be raised by the Shaanxi governor. The Regent Dorgon approved the report. It seemed that the envoy and his entourage sent by Prince Chanhuawere staying at Hezhou or somewhere else waiting for the bestowal; they could not have stayed in Peking for as long as one year. It was on the twenty-second day of the sixth lunar month in the seventh year of Shunzhi's reign (July 20, 1650) that the envoys sent by Prince Chanhua, for the second time, arrived at Peking. The Documentary Records of the Qing Dynasty has a very simple record about this matter, saying that the envoys offered tribute and they were given banquets and gifts by rule." In the entry of the eighteen day of the ninth lunar month (October 3,1650) of the same year in the same book, it was recorded that the delegates from Kharkha Mongols, Oirat Mongols, and U-Tsang came to Peking to pledge their allegiance and offered tribute. Phuntsok Gyatso, among others, was on the list.[12]

According to the Ji Chou day entry of the twelfth lunar month of the thirteenth year of Shunzhi's reign (1656), in the Documentary Records of the ^ng Dynasty, Phuntsok Gyatso was no other than Prince Chantua, but this did not mean that he went to Peking in person. It means that Prince Chanhua sent his representatives to Peking twice in that year. The Documentary Records of the SfmgDynasty says: Wangchuk, Prince Chanhua of U-Tsang, sent Sonam Drashi to head a thousand men to offer tribute to the imperial court. He was rewarded by rule.[13]

Wangchuk sent Sonam Drashi to Peking for the first time in the fifth year of Shunzhi's reign (1648) and Sonam Drashi was granted the title of State Preceptor in the same year.14 At that time it would take nine or ten months to travel from Tibet to the hinterland of China, so the delegates sent by Prince Chanhua should have embarked on their journey not later than the end of the ninth year of Shunzhi's reign (the beginning of 1653). By then, the fifth Dalai Lama had already gone to Peking at the invitation of the emperor. The Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama says that when the Dalai started on the journey, Shabdrung Rinpoche of New Dongese, a prominent figure of Prince Chanhua's family, went to see the Dalai off and accompanied him as far as Dam (present-day Damxung).15 Since Prince Chanhua learned that the Dalai Lama and his party had already left for Peking, why did he still send Sonam Drashi to Peking and offer tribute to the imperial court? This problem deserves consideration.

The fourth time Prince Chanhua sent men to Peking was on the fourteenth day of the eleventh lunar month in the thirteenth year ofShunzhi's reign (1656). The Documentary Records of the §>mg Dynasty says: "Prince Chanhua of U-Tsang sent a party headed by State Preceptor Gyatso Nagpo to offer tribute. They were given banquets and rewards by rule.[16]

Thus, Prince Chanhua sent men to offer tribute once every three years, following the old regulation stipulated by the Ming court in 1569. The Qing court was pleased with his behavior. One month later, on the sixteenth day of the twelfth lunar month (January 29,1657), the Qing court sent Lama Sherab and Samten Gelong to confer on Phuntsok Gyatso Prince Chanhua's title with a certificate and seal of authority17. By doing so, the Qing court showed favor to Prince Chanhua without changing the title. We know from the follwing paragraphs that by then Prince of Chanhua had returned the certificate and seal given to him by the Ming court. However, the two lamas who were assigned to confer the title did not set out immediately for some reason. During the half year of their delay in the capital, the Qing court became doubtful of Prince Chanhua's social status and political importance. The following is a quotation from an entry of the nineteenth day of the fifth lunar month (June 30) in the fourteenth year ofShunzhi's reign (1657) in the Documentary Records of the G!^ngDy nasty: "Wu Sangui, Prince ofPingxi (Pacifying the West), attacked and defeated the rebels in the city ofJiading, captured the rebel military commander Long Minyang, and demanded the surrender of the Great Vehicle Prince of Dharma, the Great Treasure Prince of Dharma of U-Tsang, and 3 prefectures and 16 counties.

In addition, he defeated Liu Wenxiu, the puppet prince ofFunan... For this, it was decreed that he should get a raise of 1,000 taels of silver in his annual income and that his merits be put in the record.[18]

Obviously, the Great Vehicle Prince ofDharma and the Great Treasure Prince of Dharma referred to the representatives of the two princes of Dharma who were stationed in Sichuan by the two Princes of Dharma.

Both the Dharma Princes had been supporters of the Southern Ming dynasty and now were forced to surrender to the Qing. It is unknown what happened to them later. Nevertheless, it was quite likely that the Qing court found it necessary to find out the real situation of Prince Chanhua. So, on the twenty-third day of the sixth lunar month (August 2,1657) the Qing court still sent Sherab and Samten to Tibet under the pretense of extending greetings to the Dalai Lama and Panchen Hutuktu. The Imperial decree in Tibetan that the two envoys took to Tibet is kept in the Tibet Archives; the decree contained only ordinary greetings.[19]

However, in an entry of the same day of the Documentary Records of the S^ingDynasty, there is a record of another imperial decree they took to Tibet, which reads: "Since I ascended the throne, Prince Chanhua has sent men to offer tribute three times. In reward for his loyalty, I have issued two imperial decrees to him. Now he has again sent Gyatso Nagpo to offer tribute and hand in a jade seal given to him by the ex-Ming court in exchange for a new one. According to the report made by the Board of Rites, Prince Chanhua used to be the King ofThubet. Afterwards, Thubet was subdued by Tsangpa Khan. In the Ming dynasty, Tsangpa Khan was defeated by Gushri Khan ofOirat. Gushri Khan put Prince Chanhua under the control of the Dalai Lama and then of the depa (sde-pa). Thus, Prince Chanhua renounced his Padru Kagyupa faith and converted to the Yellow Hat sect in front of the Dalai Lama. As the seal of authority bestowed by the Ming court was in the depa's hands, the depa ordered the Amdo people within the border to pass off as the people of Prince Chanhua and sent them here to offer tribute. When we asked the envoy Gyatso Nagpo and others, they all said Prince Chanhua had long been subordinate to the depa. However, they said the memorial submitted to the throne this time was submitted by Prince Chanhua himself ,and the tribute was offered by him. It is quite improper for Prince Chanhua to offer tribute in his own name since he has long been subordinate to the depa. This time he still uses the name of Chanhua and sent envoys for an imperial certificate and seal of authority Now you shall write the truth in detail and submit your memorial to Sherab Lama and Samten Gelong so that they may report to me."[20]

The memorial submitted by the Board of Rites gave a brief account of the Tibetan political changes during the late period of the Ming dynasty It is the only material about the Tibetan history of this period in the Chinese historical documents. The last entry in the Documentary Records of the Ming Dynasty about Prince Chanhua' sending envoys to offer tribute to the Ming court was in the forty-sixth year ofWanli's reign (1618).

There were no more records about the prince after that,which means that the hegemony of this royal family had come to an end. From the Autobiography of the Fifth DalaiLama we know that during the i63os, the descendants of Prince Chanhua at Newu Dongtse had already lost their authority and glory of former times. They were looked down upon by the people, and the Dalai Lama sighed over their unhappy fate.[21]

[editor : ]
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