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From: China Tibetology Magazine 2007-04-28 11:18:00
by: TangJia-hong
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The administrative system in Tibet during the Tang and Yuan Dynasties


China's Tang Dynasty (618-907) and Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) were of epoch-making importance in the formation and development of the Tibetan ethnic group. Numerous ethnic tribes began to unite, and the process of evolution from a tribal to a political society was basically completed over the span of the two dynasties. The advanced political, economic and cultural systems of the Han people were introduced into Tibet, primitive tribes were gradually replaced by a united government, and consanguinity finally gave way to an aristocracy—the feudal lord system. In short, most of the great events of historical significance in the establishment of the Tibetan administrative system took place during the Tang and Yuan Dynasties.

The origins of the distinctively theocratic serfdom in force in Tibet during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing dynasty(i644-i9ii) may be traced back to the Tang and Yuan. The ancestors of the Tibetan people, like those of the Han and other ethnic groups, made a significant contribution to the overall greatness of the Chinese nation.The Tibetans also established ties with the Qiang, Tangart, and, most particularly, the Han, which have remained strong and close since ancient times.

In the course of history, there have been conflicts and disputes, as well as integration and mergence among the ethnic groups of China. Friendly relations and bitter hosilities have co-existed, but, generally speaking, hostilities have been of the sort that might occur between brothers, although on occasion have been serious enough to end in war. In a retrospective of history, however, the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the main stream of ethnic relations in China has always been one of mixing, exchange, and unification. Ample evidence of this can be found in volume upon volume of historical records.

The following are extracts from the Tibetan Commentary in The History of the Tang Dynasty, and give a general picture of ethnic relations between the Han and Tibetan peoples: In the eighth year of the reign of Zhenguan(634), Tibetan prince Qizonglongzan (Srong btsan-sgam-po) sent an envoy to present tributes to the Tang emperor.

In the fifteenth year of Zhenguan, the Tang emperor Taizong gave his daughter, Princess Wencheng, in marriage to Qizonglongzan, who followed the courtesies of a son-in-law.

When the Tang emperor Gaozong(650-683)came to the throne, that made Qizonglongzan the emperor's brother-in-law Qizong longzan and was awarded the title Prince of the Western Sea and was promoted to the position of Prince of Bin. Qizonglongzan died in the first year of Yonghui (650).The Tang emperor Gaozong held a mourning ceremony and sent an envoy to express his condolences. In the fourth year of Yifeng (679), the Tibetan btsan-po died and his son Qinuxilong Rhri-vdus-srong succeeded the to throne. The Tang emperor (who was actually the empress Wu Zetian) sent an envoy to attend the funeral.

In the first year of Yonglong(68o), Princess Wencheng passed away. The Tang emperor sent an envoy to express his condolences. In the second year of Changan(702),a Tibetan envoy sent to Chang'an...said to Empress Wu Zetian: "We of this small and remote place are at loss as to how to return your heavenly favor! All we can do is to pray for longevity for your highness'." The next year,Tubo (ancient Tibet) paid tribute of one thousand horses and two thousand taels of gold for the hand of a Tang princess, which was granted by Empress Wu Zetian. In the first year of Shenlong(705), a Tibetan envoy reported the death of Prince Qinuxilong (khri-vdug-srong). The Tang Dynasty emperor held a mourning ceremony and suspended activities at the imperial court for one day. Qilisyzan (khri-lde-gtsug-brtsan) succeeded to the Tubo throne, and his grandmother sent an envoy to the imperial government seeking a marriage alliance. This was agreed to by the Tang emperor Zhongzong,and Princess Jincheng was married into Tibet's royal family From then on,Tibet paid tribute to the Tang imperial government on a yearly basis.

In the eleventh month of the third year ofJinglong (709), a Tibetan envoy travelled to Chang'an to escort Princess Jincheng to Tibet, where the princess arrived the following year, to stay in a city that had been built especially for her. In the seventeenth year of Kaiyuan(729), the Tibetan govenment sent a high-ranking official named Mingxilie to the Tang imperial court to hold peace negotiations. The Tibetan prince submitted a memorial to the emperor that read: "I have the honor to be Your Majesty's nephew, and a close relative of the late emperor.By the heavenly favor conferred on me in being given the hand of Princess Jincheng, I consider the Tibetan and Han peoples to be of one family, and people under heaven who enjoy peace and happiness. Bearing in mind the late Princess Wencheng, and also Princess Jincheng, Your Majesty's humble nephew has never forgotten his own position or dared commit a breach of etiquette. However, being young and inexperienced,! have been deceived by slanderous talk and false information given to me by certain generals, which has given rise to border disputes, and caused Your Majesty's peace of mind to be disturbed. I now beg your pardon and severe reprimand. Mingxilie knows clearly that Your Majest/s nephew punished the generals who were at the root of these disputes, and who were the ultimate cause of Han people being robbed. When Han soldiers surrendered to our side. I lost no time in having them sent back. I earnestly hope that Your Majesty can see my sincerity and allow us to reestablish friendly relations, so that the people can live in peace. If Your Majesty confers on me the favor of granting my request, rest assured that your humble nephew shall remain true to his word".

In the tenth month of the eighteenth year of Kaiyuan, Mingxilie and his followers arrived in the capital, Chang'an. The Tibetan envoy presented a memorial to the Tang Dynasty emperor,in which Princess Jincheng requested the Book of Odes, the Book of Rites, and Classical Selections. The Imperial Secretariat was instructed to see that the books were prepared.

In the twenty-ninth year of Kaiyuan(74i),Princess Jincheng died. The Tibetan government sent an envoy to the capital to announce the sad news, and again spoke of peace. In the fourteenth year ofTianbao(756), the Tibetan prince Qilisulong died. With the support of court subjects, his son, Posronglezan succeeded to the throne. Emperor Xuanzong sent an envoy as his official representative to Tibet to express his condolences.

In the first year of Zhide(756),Tibet sent an envoy to negotiate peace. In the first year of Baoying(762), the Tibetan envoy Zhufanmanger presented tributes to the imperial Tang court.

In the first year of Yongtai(765),Tibet sent its representative to seek peace. In the fourth month of the second year ofYongtai (766),more than one hundred Tibetan representatives led by Lord Lunqizang arrived in the capital to express goodwill. In the eleventh month of the second year of Dali (767),the Tibetan lord Lunxiqiling had an audience with the Tang emperor, and was soon followed by a group of fifteen representatives led by Luxi, who also sought and audience.

In the first month ofJianzhong(783),Tibet and the Tang held a meeting,west of the Qing river, with the aim of forming an alliance.Part of the treaty of alliance reads: "The imperial court of Tang has established marriage ties with Tibetan princes in an effort to build good neighborhood and share peace. Our 'Uncle and Nephew'relationship has lasted for nearly 200 years.

During this period, however, there arose unnecessary disputes that grew into wars, when past goodwill and favor were forgotten. Order along the border areas was therefore disturbed. The Tang emperor,with deep compassion for the multitudes, released war prisoners and let them return to Tibet. The Tibetan prince responded to the favor of His Majesty with courtesy,and the two countries began to mend their relations.With people coming and going between us, broadcasting the harmony between the two sovereigns, there can be no plots of sabotage or warfare."In the first half of the third month of the twentieth year ofZhenyuan(8o4),the Tibetan prince died. On hearing this sad news, the Tang emperor did not enter the imperial court for three days, and sent ZhangJian, minister in charge of the Board of Works, to express his condolences. In the fourth month of the same year, Tibet sent fifty-four envoys for an audience with the Tang emperor.

In the seventh month of the twenty-first year(805), Lunxino and other envoys from Tibet came to Chang'an for an audience with the emperor. In the tenth month of the first year of Yongzhen (805), Tibetan envoy Lunqiloubo arrived in the capital to present tribute of gold, silver, clothes, cattle and horses to the Tang emperor Dezong. In the sixth month of the first year ofYuanhe(806), Tibetan envoy Lunbo came to the capital for an audience with the Tang emperor. In the sixth month of the fifth year ofYuanhe(810), Tibet sent its envoy Lunsiyere for an audience with the Tang emperor.

From the sixth year to the tenth year of Yuanhe (811-815),Tibet regularly sent envoys to Chang'an to seek audiences with and present tribute to the Tang emperor. In the fourth month of the twelfth year of Yiianhe (817), a Tibetan envoy reported the death of the Tibetan prince.The imperial government sent a special ambassador to express condolences. In the tenth month of the first year of Changqing (821), Tibet and the Tang held a meeting to discuss forming an alliance. Its conclusion was included in the treaty of alliance,which read as follows: "In the central part of China, the Tang emperor is sole ruler;and in the western regions, Tibet is lord.Form now on, the two states will cease warfare and forget old grudges and hatreds. The two sides will reestablish their uncle-and-nephew relationship,ease tension along the border and extinguish the flames of war. Rather than resorting to violence and robbery the two sides should help each other and share weal and woe. As guards of the original crucial posts along the border, the Tang government and Tibet should trust each other and never stoop to deception or fraud." In the first month of the third year of Changqing (823), Tibet sent its envoy Lundare to extend greetings for the new year. In the ninth month of the fourth year of Changqing (824), Tibet sent an envoy requesting a picture of Wutaishan. In the tenth month of the same year, Tibet paid tribute in the form of yaks, and silver figurines of a rhinoceros, sheep and deer.

In the third month of the first year ofBaoli(82^), Tibetan envoy Shangqilire travelled to the capital for an audience with the emperor and to express goodwill. In the ninth month of the same year, the Tang government sent an official named Li Rui for a reciprocalvisit to Tibet.

Between the fifth and eighth years of Taihe(831-834),Tibet regularly sent envoys to the capital,seeking audiences and presenting tribute. The central government of Tang also sent representatives to Tibet to reciprocate their goodwill.

In the first year ofKaicheng(842), a Tibetan envoy arrived in the capital. In the second year ofHuichang, the Tibetan prince died.In the twelfth month, a Tibetan envoy came to report the sad news, and the Tang goverment sent an official named LiJing to express condolences. There were approximately one hundred and ninety exchanges of official visits between the Tang and Tibet,from the eighth year of Zhenguan when Tibetan prince Qilongzongzan (srong-btsan sgam-po) first paid tribute to the central govenment of Tang, to the collapse of tribal serfdom upon the death of Prince Darma/A general picture of the relations between the central Tang government and Tibet also emerges from these extracts. A few basic tendencies also warrant attention:

1. Frequent exchanges and significant mutual influence existed in the political,economic and cultural fields of the central Tang government and Tibet.

2. Although wars broke out from time to time, Tibet steadily learned the advanced aspects of the material and cultural life of the Han people.

3. Ancient Tibetan nomadic tribes established countless ties with the Central Plains of China through cultural exchanges.2 Based on the above facts, it is safe to conclude that Tibet was a component part of the political, economic and cultural sphere of the Tang dynasty. Certain nomadic tribes accepted the traditional culture of the Central Plains of China from the Warring States Period(475-221BC) to the Han Dynasty (2o6BC-22oAD) right through to the Jin Dynasty(265-420),and this process never ceased. Tibet was just one of these nomadic 'tribes. In his essay On Historical Changes of Tibetan Local Governments, Professor Wang Furen proves beyond doubt that Tibet has always been part of the territory of China.and that the Tibetan people have, since ancient times, been a part of the Chinese nation.

The following is an interesting extract from The Story of Tibet in The New History of the Tang Dynasty, which mentions polo, and demonstrates the frequent and close exchanges between the Tibetan and Han people:

"In the third year of Xianqing(658),a Tibetan envoy presented gold cups, gold'poluo'and other items of tributes, and again requested further marriage ties". According to textual research carried out by Professor Wang Yao,"poluo"means polo, the sport that originated in Tibet and spread to central Asia and Europe.The gold"poluo" presented by the Tibetan envoy in the third year of Xiangqing was a gold polo. Further research on the part of Comrade Chen Changming confirmed that from a linguistic and sociological perspective, as well as from the characteristics of polo itself,the game is a contribution made by ancient Tibetan people to the world. His research also reflects how the two cultures of Tibet and the Central Plains were in perfect harmony. Polo became a source of fascination to all social strata of the Tang dynasty, from aristocrats to commoners, including Empress Wu Zetian and Emperor Xuanzong, who became polo fans.

As the old Chinese saying goes:"Those below follow the example of those above." The game therefore became very popular among the common people, men and women alike/There are a numer of poems, articles and paintings depicting and referring to polo, from which can be seen the extent of its popularity at that time.

Tibetan prince Songtsen Gampo(Srong-btsan sgam-po):"Sent young students from rich and powerful families to study poems and classics" Zhongzong, a high official in the Tibetan government, was one of the students sent to study at the Tang Imperial University in order to attain advanced cultural achievement. He once told Emperor Gaozong that the material wealth of Tibet amounted to less than a small fraction of that of the Central Plains'. Tibetans studying in Chang'an often wore Han style clothes, spoke Chinese, studied the laws of the Han people and acquired a full understanding of the Chinese civilization. Making full use of the opportunity to read imperial decrees and regulations, they also acquired statecrafting skills. Many Tibetan scholars had the foresight to absorb completely the advanced cultural achievements of the Central Plains.


In certain academic works, the Tibetan regime period is referred to as the "Tibetan Imperial Dynasty".These are of course concrete grounds for dispute asregards the content of these works, but in any event,from a historical, clutural, and anthropological point of view, it would be more appropriate and consistent with historical facts to refer to this era as the "Tsenpo Period". In the Tibetan language .Tsen means strong and powerful, and po means man. Ancient Tibetan people all addressed their chief as"Tsenpo".So,it would be appropriate to refer to the Tibetan regime period as the "Tsenpo Period".

The primitive social life of the Tubo tribes is evident from the way in which the people addressed their sovereign, as Tsenpo, and from the public ownership of the means of production, pasture, in force at the time. In the Tubo regime,the prime minister was called "Lun".There was a "Great Lun" and a"Small Lun/'both of whom ran state affairs.According to historical records, the royal clans were called "Lun,(blon)" and official families "Shang".As pointed out by Mr. Han Rulin: "The administrative system of the Tubo regime was very simple. All the civil and military officials came from the aristocracy, eigher from the Tsenpo clan, or from official families related to Tsenpo by marriage, such as maternal uncles, nephews, brothers-and sons-in-laws. This shows fully the consanguinity aspect of the tribal social system."5 The Tubo tribes sealed their alliance with rituals of a strong binding force. It was a rule that the Tsenpo and his courtiers should hold a ceremony to renew their oath of alliance every year, making sacrifices of sheep, dogs and monkeys. The animals were killed while a shaman prayed to the gods of heaven, earth, the mountains, and rivers, and the sun, moon and stars. The oath reads: "If we cease to be faithful and turn against each other, our fate will be the same as these sheep and dogs".

Every three years,a grand sacrificial rite was held. Dishes of food, and sacrifices of dogs,horses, donkeys and cows were laid on an altar, and the oath read: "All of you should be of one heart and one mind to protect our country, let your pledges be known to heaven, earth and the gods. Should you break this oath, your bodies shall be cut into pieces like these animals".

Historical records,in the form of books, letters, bamboo and wooden slips and on more ancient writing tablets of excavated from Dunhuang, Tibet and Xinjiang, provide evidence that tribal organizations widely existed in Tibetan society. During the Tsenpo period,Tibet absorbed knowledge from the Tang Dynasty as well as from other nationalities in China, such as the Hans.ancient Koreans, Tuyuhuns and Tangarts.

All these ethnic groups exerted influence on life in Tibet. Compared with other places in the world, the tribal alliance in Tibet was unique,albeit of a strong feudal color. It could be defined as an'Alliance of feudal clans"or ^'Post-feudal system",or a"Feudal alliance of nomadic tribal clans". Songtsen Gampo clearly acknowledged the back- wardness of Tibet,and also that it was a component part of the central government of the Tang Dynasty. There is an account in Records of Tibetan Kings and Ministers of how Tibet bought medical books and calendars from the Han people even before the time of Songtsen Gampo: "Songtsen Gampo himself also renounced fur and felt garments and donned the fine silk clothes of the Han. He admired the magnificent material and cultural achievement of the Central Plains,and sent young people from rich and powerful families to study poetry and literature. He also invited intellectuals from the Central Plains to standardize memorials and other documents."

Songtsen Gampo wrote to the Tang Emperor Taizong to congratulate him on his triumph in a war in East Liaoning, saying: "Your Majesty has conquered in every direction under heaven, and now, all the places illuminated by the light of the Sun and the Moon shall be the territory of Your Majesty." In his letter, he also expressed his loyalty to Emperor Gaozong, stating: 'At this time, when Your Majesty has just ascended the throne! vow to lead my Tubo army and other loyalists against any attempts to launch a rebellion."

These facts prove that Songtsen Gampo himself regarded Tibet as being under the local administration of the Tang Dynasty It is therefore incorrect to refer it as a"dependent state"or"vassal state"ofthe kind that appeared after the Tang Dynasy. B. Laufer, an American expert on Tibetan studies, expounded upon and identified from various angles the complete political structure of Tibet in the Tang Dynasty. Mr. Han Rulin, however, after carrying out his own research on the same subject in his The Royal Clans and Officialdom in Tibet,Han proved B. Laufer's argument to be untenable. Mr. Han pointed out that: "The administrative structues of Tibet were not as sophisticated as those of the Tang Dynasty, to the extent that the two were beyond compare".

Mr.Han's opinion is largely consistent with the arguments that Tibet was at that time basically a feudal nomadic tribal alliance. Further corroboration of this conclusion can be found in historical data from late Tang Dynasty, the Five Dynasties, and the Northern and Southern Song Dynasties, through to the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty Tubo declined after the death of Darma Tsenpo, which marked the end of the Tsenpo period ,when tribes and their alliances dissolved. It is recorded in The History of the Song Dynasty that: "At the end of Tang Dynasty, Tubo declined.

Tribes—the larger of several thousand households, and the smaller of about one hundred households-separated from one another,and there was no longer a united government". From the Five Dynasties through to the Song Dynasty,Tibet basically consisted of disparate regimes, and its underlying economy basis and ideology made the forming of a united political system impossible.

A Happy Feast for Wise Men contains an account of Tubo at that time: "Wars were rampant in most parts of Tibet. All the regions were subdivided into great and small administrations, with gold and jade strata, meat eaters and tsamba eaters."

In Chinese historical records, Tibetans were referred to as "local households"and"outsiders".The Story of Song §^ History of the Song Dynasty states: "The customs of the Tangarts and Tibetans are similar, in that its people are divided into'local households,'that live in cities adjacent to those of the Han people, and 'outsiders' who stay in remote areas and live on the proceeds of banditry.'Tibetan people living in the inner areas had more opportunities to accept the Han culture, and were therefore regarded as"local households".Those who lived further out were regarded as"outsiders."The"local households" were actually ethnic groups living around agricultural areas, and the"outsiders"were nomadic Tibetans. Zizhitongfian' (a 294-volume chronicle by SiMa Guang, covering a period of 1,362 years through to the Epoch of the Five Dynasties, cites Deputy Minister of Court Secretariat Han Qi as saying: "Apart from'local households'in Jingyuan and Qinfeng, there are innumerable"outsiders"in Cuoku, Erzhu, Degu, Balicheng, Lajiacheng, Zhixiaocheng, Guweizhou,Kanggu, Tao, He,Lan, Die, Yanzhou, Zonger and Qingtangcheng.As the "outsiders" belonged to tribal clans of various sizes, with no systematic administration, it is impossible to gain a clear picture of their life and modes of production."

The so-called tribal clans constituted a basic social and political organization, and also acted as military units. The Tubo Army History of Song Dynasty records: Sanyang Camp:i8 gates,34 big sects, 43 family names, 180 clans, army of 3,467. Longcheng Camp:^ gates, 5 big sects, 34 small clans, 34 family names, army of 2,0^4. Gongmen Camp:2 big gates, 17 sects, 17 family names, 17 small clans, army of 1,704. Guwei Camp, 172 gates, 171 family names, 12 big clans, 16,970 small camps.

The same book records: Captured 381 Tubo military officials from nine camps of Yuanzhou, together with 7,736 soldiers form 229 clans. These records show that consanguinity was still an important link in Tubo society, and that it often had a political function.This was frequently mentioned in Song Dynasty historical records: Three hundred thousand Tubo soldiers surrendered and were offered amnesty; 1,900 households and 22 clan leaders surrendered.

Captured 270 chiefs and over 500 Tubo sects. Offered amnesty and enlistment to 30 clans.4,800 households of loo clans of the Zhusuwei surrendered.

These clans were under the control of tribal chiefs that were often also feudal lords. Over the course of history, both old and new clans had their role to play within the political, military and religious arenas. This era of discrete regimes came to an end four hundred years later, when the Mongolians, with their armored cavalry, occupied Europe and Asia. As Buddhism rose and developed,Tibetan tribal leaders were given support from the Yuan central government. From then on, serfdom gradually took hold in Tibet, and administrative and religious power combined as Tibet became a Yuan administrative region.


Buddhism had, since the Tsenpo period, spread through the Central Plains and along the Sino-Indian border area. However,no Tibetans were initiated as monks until the time ofTrisong Detsen(khri-srong Ide-btsan) in the second half of the S^century. The first group of seven people, that included Sas-Mi entered a monastery as monks, which is generally regarded as the point where Buddhism became established in Tibet.

Prior to Buddhism, Shamanism prevailed on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Asian grasslands. It was called"Bon," referred to as"Black Bon"by outsiders, and had its origins in primitive society. Buddhism and Bon went through a prolonged and complicated process of conflict in Tibet, and each in turn experienced both peaks and dips. In the process of contention between Buddhism and Bon,however, each belief system absorbed and eventually melded, influencing local religious, political and economic life, as well as Tibetan society and culture.

The suppression of Buddhism by Darma Tsenpo was the culmination of a fierce conflict between Bon and Buddhism,and continued for a long time. As late as the Gelug Sect (Buddhist Yellow Sect)period, the great master Tsong-kha-pa still advocated cooperation with the Bon.

After the rise of the Sakya Sect between the n^and the iz^centuries, monasteries of considerable scale began to be built, and certain temporal leaders also became religious leaders. During the whole period of separate kingdoms, certain old aristocratic clans declined, as others rose, while others dispersed, in line with the normal course of history According to historical records, and legend, the descendents of Darma Tsenpo fell into three sects: the Marong, Guge, and Burong. They were scattered over the whole of Tibet and as far afield as mdo-khams.

According to research by G.Tucci, when the ancient nobles of Tibet came to power, they would boast that their ancestors were from the north or the northeast. For instance, the princes ofGyanze(rgyal-rtse) claimed that they had blood ties with King Gesar, as did the Namrin-pa of the Minya, while the Qonggyai-ba (vphyong-rgyas-pa) claimed kinship with the Bachahor. The Gnas-gsar lords living along the Nyang-Qu (mya-ng chu) River between Gyanze(rgyal-rtse) and Shigatse (gzhis-ka-rtse), called themselves descendents of Tuyuhun.

Despite the centuries of mixing, merging, and divergence of different groups and tribes of Tibet, Tibetans were all nonetheless distinctive in their languages and physical characteristics. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is not an ideal living environment, but from the Paleolithic Age, to the Neolithic Age, through to the Iron Age, other ethnic groups migrated into Tibet from the North and the Northeast. This phenomenon is consistent with conclusions drawn from the study of Chinese historical records.

Most of the ancient nobles of Tibet united with the various rising sects within Tibetan Buddhism, and the result was the formation of the nobility with the clergy and in lay society These two strands of aristocrats were inter-dependent and constantly disputed ownership ofpasture.In the 12th and^centuries.many nobles joined hands with religious leaders so as to double their strength in ruling their tribes and developing their influence.

For the first 30 years of the i^century, Mongolian armies moved towards the northwest region. Confronted by such a strong army, Sakya Pandita and his nephew vPhagspa were forced to establish relations with Godan, the grandson of Mongol leader Genghis Khan. At that crucial point, the Tibetan people made the wise choice of relying on the Yuan central government to preserve Tibet's political system and form a unified local administration.This event was vividly recorded in the famous historical document known as Sakya Pandita'sLetterto the Tibetans. When Kublai Khan, the nephew of Godan ascended to the throne, he patronized Phagpa vphags-pa of the Sakya Sect as well as Karma Pakshi. It is clear that the political and economic powers awarded the Tibetan Sakya Sect enabled greater control by the central Yuan government, by whose imperial edicts their privileges were strictly defined.

From as early as the Tsenpo period, Tubo had begun to learn the methods of land management and population control employed by the Tang Dynasty The Tubo established a household registration system in its subordinate areas, so that tax collection, corvee labor and a draft might be rationally administered. The central Yuan government carried out censuses in Tibet soon after its establishment. Sakya's Lineal Description gives a general picture of the social structure of that time: "There are six poles to a household,namely, the husband and wife ,two children and two servants(one male and one female), totally six people. Besides, a household should have a horse and a donkey, and cows and sheep as well as a piece of land large enough to sow 12 Mongolian grams of seed. This kind of household is called a Hor Dud Chung,and 25^ Hor Dud Chung form a Dud Chen. Two Dud Chen put together are called a Rta Mgo, and two Rta Mgo are called a Rgya Bskor. Ten Rgya Bskor form a Stong Bskor, and ten Stong Bskor are called a Kri Bskor, while ten Kri Bskor are a Klu, and ten Klu usually constitute a region."

There were n fields or provinces under the rule of the Yuan Emperor. Though the three areas of Tibet were not large, they were nevertheless regarded as a field and bestowed on Phagpa, so that he could provide for the expenses of Buddhist rituals and ceremonies. It can be concluded from the above records that"Hor Dud"and"Dud"were both units used in a census. These two words are synonymous, and their meaning and pronunciation are similar to those of "ordu",which in the Mongolian language means city. In the Tibetan language,"dud" means smoke.Each yurt, or circular dwelling made from felt and hide, had a chemney, and the number of chimneys indicated the number ofhouse-holds-the basic societal units.There were about five or six people to each household of this kind, which was genexally referred to as a "family of five" in Chinese historical records.

During the Yuan Dynasty,Tibet came under the administration of the Xuanzheng-yuan (the Comission for Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs). Tibet had previously been the responsibility of the Zongzhiyuan). In the twenty-fifth year of the Yuan Dynasty(1288),the Minister of Finance,Sengge,put forward a suggestion to Emperor Kublai: "The Zongzhi-yuan handles the military and civil affairs of minority nationalities in the western areas; it is therefore suggested that this organization should be promoted in status and its name changed to Xuan zheng-yuan(This organization was therefore promoted form the second to the first rank with three seals,and its top official post held concurrently by Prime Minister Sengge.As a result,the Xuanzheng-yuan became an important goverment ministry on the same level as the Zhongshu-sheng (the Imperial Secretariat), the Shumi-yuan (^E^^, Bureau of Military Affairs), and the Yushi-tai Cftfl^il^, the Censorate)-the core units of the Yuan central government.There were various departments and positions in the Xuanzheng-yuan, such as the Xuanweishisi (Pacification Commission), the Zhaotaoshi (officials in charge of military action), the Anfushi (officials in charge of pacification affairs), and other regional leaders.

Tibet was bestowed by Kublai Khan on his son, Xiping Prince Auruchi, as a fiefdom. Upon the death of Auruchi,this fiefdom was passed on to Auruchi*ls Son,Zhenxi Wujing Prince Temur,and grandson, Sospan,until the downfall of the Yuan Dynasty. According to the History of the Ming Dynasty:"Zhenxi Wujing Prince Ponala submitted tribete on behalf of Tibetan tribes".This demonstrates that during the whole of the Yuan Dynasty, Tibet was under the rule of the zhenxi Prince line. The central goverment of the Yuan Dynasty made Tibetan Buddhism an important component in its ruling machine, in which serfdom governed by a theocracy was the basic political system of Tibet.

The Xuanzheng-yuan of the Yuan Dynasty controlled a vast area of which Tibet was only a portion. According to the Tibetan historical records,the Yuan Dynasty central government divided Tibet into 13 Ten thousand-households(Khri-skor bcu-gsum).As an administrative unit,a khri-skor bcu-gsum might have more or less ten thousand households that were under the administration of three Pacification Commissions, namely,the U (dbus),Tsang (gtsang) and Ngari (mngavris).

In building a great and unified dynasty.the Mongolians attached great importance to transport routes that facilitated military action as well as economic and political activities.The government built "Zhanchi"(post-houses) on common-ly used routes that connected the inner and western areas,and were Key transport and communication arteries whose efficient functioning,and maintenance by the central government was essential.Through allocation of necessary funds and the supply of horses,cattle and sheep,the central government maintained the normal operation of these post-houses and supported the people that looked after them.

The annexation of Tibet during the Yuan Dynasty as an administrative region was determined by the contemporary historical factors.The good relationship between the central government and the local administration of Tibet laid a solid foundation for the feudal serfdom that came into force Tibet in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It also Provided a framework for the future development of the feudal theocracy of Tibet.


[editor : ]
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  • Overseas Chinese urged to introduce Tibet in foreign...
  • CAPDTC: Newly-elected directors vow to protect Tibet...
  • Representatives at 2nd Conference of CAPDTC
  • New leadership elected in CAPDTC Executive Council
  •   Latest News
  • Tibetan antelope, railway, co-exist in harmony
  • All-seeing, all-reaching Goddess of Mercy on display
  • Demystifying Tibet
  • From Beijing to Tibet
  • Accommodation road for Lhasa-Gonggar Airport completes
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  • Traditional Tibetan culture thrives
  •   Lesson Six: Family
      Hello, Everyone! Welcome to Learning Tibetan. In this lesson, we will learn some new words and sentences about family.
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