Gampo was the first, semi-legendary King of Tibet.
He married a Chinese Princess in 640
AD. Under his rule the Tibetan Empire
included parts of Burma, Nepal, India and Afghanistan. He allowed
Buddhist scholars (from India) into the country and promoted the
development of the
Tibetan language. He also constructed a Jokhand
temple in Lhasa – till this day a most sacred shrine of the Tibetan
another notable Tibetan king. He was the grand-grand-grand
son of the legendary Songtsen
Gampo and he introduced Buddhism as the state religion in
755 AD after a
two-year scholars’ debate in Samye Moanstery. His armies took
sizable parts of the Chinese territory. Eventually a peace was signed
821 and its
terms were inscribed on three stone pillars, of which one survives
in Lhasa till this day. After Trisong Detsen’s death Buddhism
went underground and
the country fragmented into smaller states. This situation
lasted for 400 years.
Mongol Empire offered
Tibet its military protection from 1244 onwards.
In return the Tibetan
monks provided spiritual guidance to the Mongol Khans. In fact
the title of DALAI (meaning
‘the ocean of wisdom’) is a Mongolian title first awarded to
Lama Sonam Gyatso by Altan Khan around 1580 AD.
Mongols re-unite Tibet in 1642.
The armies of Gushri Khan managed to re-unite the small states of
Tibet under the rule of “The Great Fifth” Dalai Lama. When
he died in 1682
his death was kept secret by his Desri (Regent)
for 15 years! The Palace
of Potala was build during his reign.
war and Chinese rule in the 18th century.
After the death of the VI Dalai Lama was revealed most of the
country descended into civil war. The weakening Mongol Empire
power. Eventually in the mid 18th century the Chinese
took over control of Tibet, but until 1793 it was more symbolic
year “29 Articles
on the Reconstruction of Tibetan Domestic Affairs” gave
the Ambans – Chinese Emperor’s representatives, formal powers
of the state.
Invasion of Tibet in 1904. Fearing
that Tsarist Russia might take over Tibet and threaten British
in colonial India, the British Government sent
force to Tibet in 1904 under the command of Francis Younghusband.
In the fighting several thousand Tibetans were killed. The formal
peace treaty was signed in 1912, which marks the beginning of
spell of Tibetan independence. The British brought many new things
Tibet including football and the first lay school in Lhasa. In
in the 1920s both were banned by the conservative forces.
of independence 1912 - 1950.
Only after signing the peace treaty with Great Britain in 1912 did
Tibet become a proper sovereign state (for most of its history
either under Mongol or Chinese influence). The Dalai Lama was the head
of state as well as a spiritual leader.
October 1950 the
Chinese Peoples Liberation Army invaded Tibet with 40 thousand soldiers.
had only a few thousand men and a few mortars. No military
years. Their defeat was swift.
1951 the remnants of the Tibetan government was
forced to sign a ’17-point Agreement’ giving up the rule over the
to the Chinese
Dalai Lama was initially invited
to Beijing and had meetings with Mao Tse Tung, however threatened with
imminent arrest escaped to to India in 1959, where he's been living
was the scene of violent riots against Chinese
rule in 1959, 1987-89. After 1989 the Tibetan cause became very
popular in the West.
Revolution of the
sixties brought upon a near-destruction of almost 6000 monasteries
and countless treasures of art and culture. It was common practice
by the authorities to use the holy scriptures from the monasteries
as a fertiliser
on the fields. The new economic policies had a devastating
effect on the economy: e.g. forced replacement of traditional barley
with unsuitable wheat resulted in widespread famine.
the Panchen Lama wrote a petition to the
Chinese Prime Minister Zhou EnLai, in which he criticised
the destruction of Tibet
by the Chinese Army, the cruelty of the occupying authorities
of the people. His petition was called a ‘poisoned
arrow’ by Mao, Panchen
Lama was subsequently subjected to the ‘thamzing' sessions
in front of huge rallies of the Red Guards and imprisoned
people are believed to
have been killed by repression and famine since the Chinese invasion.
Lack of proper records makes it difficult to verify this figure.
Until the 1980s Tibet was closed to foreigners.
Chinese authorities spend
significant amounts of money to integrate Tibet into China, but the
standard of living in TAR is still far below
the Chinese average. The current biggest infrastructure project is
building the railway link between Golmud and Lhasa.
Chinese top leader has ever been to Tibet.
Tibetan flag and the coat of arms shown on this page are banned in
Tibet, so are photographs of the Dalai Lama. The coat of arms shows
two snow lions supporting the Buddhist Wheel of Life.
can find out more about the Tibetan history through the Links section
of this site.