The Info List - Tsangpa

(Tibetan: གཙང་པ, Wylie: gTsang pa) was a dynasty that dominated large parts of Tibet
from 1565 to 1642. It was the last Tibetan royal dynasty to rule in own name. The regime was founded by Karma Tseten, a low-born retainer of the prince of the Rinpungpa
Dynasty and governor of Shigatse
in Tsang (West-Central Tibet) since 1548.


1 Superseding the Rinpungpa 2 Struggle against the Gelugpa 3 Expansion and Mongol response 4 Triumph of the Dalai Lama 5 List of rulers 6 See also 7 References 8 Literature

Superseding the Rinpungpa[edit] During the 16th century Tibet
was fragmented among rivaling factions, along religious as well as dynastic lines. The Phagmodrupa Dynasty lost any semblance of power after 1564 and its rival Rinpungpa
was also unable to achieve unity. Among the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karma Kagyu
Karma Kagyu
school competed against the Gelug, which was headed by the Dalai Lama. According to tradition, Karma Tseten obtained a troop of horsemen by altering a document issued by his master, the Rinpungpa
lord. He then raised the standard of rebellion in 1557 and managed to supersede the Rinpungpa
by a surprise attack in 1565.[1] This was facilitated by the simmering discontent with the Rinpungpa
among several vassals. Known as the Depa Tsangpa
or Tsang Desi, he became the king of Upper Tsang and allied with Köncho Yenlak, the 5th Shamarpa
of the Karma Kagyu. Wangchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa Lama, met him on several occasions and transferred tutelary deities to the ruler. This was a ritually important act to legitimize the new regime. Karma Tseten also patronized the Nyingma, Sakya
and Jonang
sects. The rise of the dynasty should be seen against the anxiety for outside intervention in the deeply divided country. The alliance between the 3rd Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
and the Tumed
leader Altan Khan
Altan Khan
(1578) likely aroused the fear of some aristocratic families in Ü-Tsang
and of the non- Gelug
schools. This motivated the Karmapa to seek protection from the Tsangpa
rulers.[2] The new dynasty strove to keep Tibet
free from the recurring Mongol incursions which plagued the land on several occasions in the late 16th and early 17th century.[3] The further aim was to revive the glories of the old Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
and create a peaceful and well-ordered Tsang.[4] This was partly successful; the last remains of Rinpungpa
authority vanished in 1590 as they were forced to capitulate their heartland Rong to Karma Tseten. There is nothing to suggest that the regime kept any relations with the declining Ming dynasty
Ming dynasty
of China. Struggle against the Gelugpa[edit] Our sources from this period are mainly concerned with religious affairs and do not disclose much about the administrative structure of the Tsangpa
realm. The basis of their power is therefore still insufficiently understood. Nor is the history of Karma Tseten's closest successors well known, but in the early 17th century the dynasty is frequently mentioned as a competitor for power over Tibet. The family was generally opposed to the Gelugpa and Dalai Lamas, whose power meanwhile increased in Ü. The Tsangpa
ruler Karma Tensung (or, in another account, his nephew Karma Phuntsok Namgyal) reacted by invading Ü from his base in Tsang in 1605 and attacking the Drepung and Sera Monasteries. 5,000 monks are said to have been massacred on this occasion.[5] The Tsangpa
army expelled the Mongol troops that assisted the 4th Dalai Lama, himself a Mongol prince by birth. The Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
had to flee and the Tsangpa
ruler was close to become the king of Tibet.[6] In 1612 and 1613, the Tsangpa
ruler subjugated a number of local regimes in West Tibet: the Ngari Gyelpo, Lhopa and Changpa. There were also spectacular successes in the east. The new acquisitions included Dagpo in the far southeast, Phanyul (north of Lhasa) and Neu (southeast of Lhasa).[7] He was less successful against Bhutan, where his enemy, Ngawang Namgyal, the prince abbot of Ralung Monastery
Ralung Monastery
in Tsang and one of the reincarnations of the fourth Gyalwang Drukpa Kunkhyen Pema Karpo
Kunkhyen Pema Karpo
of the Drukpa Lineage, had taken refuge. Expansion and Mongol response[edit] In 1618, the Tsangpa
Gyelpo pushed further into Ü and defeated the local leaders of Kyishö and Tsal. By now Karma Phuntsok Namgyal was virtually the ruler of Central Tibet
and was consecrated as such by Chöying Dorje, 10th Karmapa.[8] In the following year 1619, the West Tibetan kingdom of Mangyül Gungthang was conquered. In the next year again Karma Phuntsok Namgyal returned to Ü in order to eliminate the last possible obstacle to his authority. Nêdong, the seat of the impotent Phagmodrupa Dynasty, was besieged and forced to yield to his power. Tsang forces occupied the entire Yarlung Valley.[9] The hegemony of Tsangpa
was, however, only of a brief nature. Not least their position as an upstart family without aristocratic roots made their authority tenuous. After Yonten Gyatso's death, his successor, the 5th Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
(1617–1682), received help from the Mongols, who pushed into Ü in 1621. The new Tsangpa
king Karma Tenkyong was defeated and besieged at Chakpori Hill by Lhasa, and his army only escaped annihilation through the intervention of the Panchen Lama. An agreement was made whereby the Gelugpa regained much of their former authority in Ü. The abbot of the important Drigung Monastery in Ü, allied to the Tsangpa, was abducted by the Tumed
Mongols in 1623, which was a further blow. In retaliation Karma Tenkyong brought his troops to Ü and occupied the Lhasa
region.[10] The following years saw a lull in the fighting while both sides tried to attract allies. Karma Tenkyong sought the assistance of the Choghtu Mongols, and a troop under prince Arsalan invaded Tibet
in 1635 in order to attack the Gelugpa positions. However, in the end Arsalan declined to actually support the Tsangpa, leading to an entirely unsatisfactory conclusion of the enterprise for Karma Tenkyong and the Karmapa and Shamarpa
hierarchs.[11] At the same time, Karma Tenkyong was threatened by Ladakh
in the west, although it never came to open warfare.[12] Triumph of the Dalai Lama[edit] In 1641 the leader of the Khoshut
Mongols of the Kokonor region, Güshi Khan, set out from his home area and attacked the king of Beri in Kham, who was a practitioner of the Bon
religion and persecuted Buddhist lamas. Güshi Khan
Güshi Khan
had been in contact with "the Great Fifth" since 1637 and was a major champion for his cause. After having defeated Beri, he proceeded to invade Tsang. Justification for this was found in the alliance between Beri and Tsang, which allegedly aimed at eradicating the Gelugpa. The Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
was opposed to a Mongol invasion which would have devastating effects on Central Tibet, but was not able to change the course of things. Güshi Khan's reputation as an invincible commander rendered resistance weak. The Tsangpa
stronghold, Shigatse, was captured after a long and bloody siege in March 1642. Karma Tenkyong was taken prisoner with his foremost ministers and kept in custody in Neu near Lhasa. After a revolt by Tsangpa
supporters in the same year, the incensed Güshi Khan ordered Karma Tenkyong placed in an oxhide bag and drowned in a river.[13] Güshi Khan, who founded the Khoshut Khanate
Khoshut Khanate
presented Ü, Tsang and part of East Tibet
to the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
to rule. In this way began the religious Ganden Phodrang
Ganden Phodrang
regime that would last until 1950. List of rulers[edit]

Karma Tseten 1565–1599 Khunpang Lhawang Dorje c. 1582–1605/06 (son) Karma Thutob Namgyal c. 1586–1610 (brother) Karma Tensung 1599–1611 (brother) Karma Phuntsok Namgyal 1611–1620 (son of Karma Thutob Namgyal) Karma Tenkyong 1620–1642 (son)

See also[edit]

History of Tibet List of rulers of Tibet Sino-Tibetan relations during the Ming dynasty


^ Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa
Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa
(1967), Tibet: A Political History. New Haven, p. 90. ^ B. Bogin (2014), 'The Red and yellow war: Dispatches from the field', in B. Bogin & A. Quintman (eds), Himalayan passages: Tibetan and Newar studies in honor of Hubert Decleer. Boston, p. 324. ^ J. Gentry (2010), 'Representations of efficacy: The ritual expulsion of Mongol armies in the consilidation and expansion of the Tsang (Gtsang) Dynasty', in J.I. Cabezón (ed.), Tibetan ritual. Oxford, pp. 144-52. ^ D. Templeman (2013), 'The 17th cent. gTsang rulers and their strategies of legitimation', p. 73 [1] ^ Ya Hanzhang (1994), Biographies of the Tibetan Spiritual Leaders Panchen Erdenis. Beijing, p. 26. ^ J. Gentry (2010), pp. 151, 162-3. ^ D. Templeman (2008), Becoming Indian: A study of the life of the 16th-17th century Tibetan Lama Taranatha. PhD Thesis, Monash University. ^ G. Tucci (1949), Tibetan Painted Scrolls. Rome, Vol. II, p. 697. ^ O. Czaja, Medieval rule in Tibet. Wien, p. 314-5. ^ O. Czaja (2013), pp. 317-8. ^ O. Czaja (2013), p. 322. ^ L. Petech (1977), The Kingdom of Ladakh
C. 950-1842 A.D. Roma, pp. 46-47. ^ Tsepon W.D, Shakabpa (1967), pp. 107-112; Ya Hanzhang (1994), pp. 39-41.


K.-H. Everding (2000), Das Königreich Mangyul Gungthang, Vol. I-II. Bonn. J. Gentry (2013), Substance and Sense: Objects of Power in the Life, Writings, and Legacy of the Tibetan Ritual Master Sog bzlog pa Blo gros rgyal mtshan, PhD Thesis, Harvard University. [2] H. Hoffmann (1986), Tibet. A Handbook, Bloomington. T. W. D. Shakabpa (1967), Tibet. A Political History, New Haven. G. Tucci (1949), Tibetan Painted Scrolls, 2 Vols. Rome. http://studybuddhism.com/web/en/archives/e-books/unpublished_manuscripts/survey_tibetan_history/chapter_4.html http://www.tibetinfor.com/tibetzt/tsjb/doc/606.htm (in Chinese)

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