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Tibet Guide

Shanan Historical Evolution

Author:tibetbest.net     Last updated:2013/12/4 17:01:09     Onclick:1827


Shannan is located in the Yarlung River Valley, and thus it was known as Yarlung in the past. Historical records, legends and many archeological findings suggest that about 4 million years ago, the ancestors of modern Tibetans inhabited the Yarlung river Valley. There is a tract of land named "Soitang" in Sara Village near Zetang. Legend Says it was the first cultivated field in Tibet.

The Yarlung inhabitants gradually consolidated into a tribe and turned to the valley from wasteland into an agricultural paradise. The first Tibetan King Nitri Tsampo, who reigned in the early part of the 2nd century BC, was actually the chief of the Yarlung tribe. He established the Bod Kingdom and formed the Tsampo hereditary system. During his reign, the 8th Tsampo, Zhigung, began construction on his own tomb. Evidence from this tomb shows that the Yarlung tribe had shifted from a matriarchal society to a patriarchal clan society.

The 9th Tsampo, Bode Gunggyai, began the organized construction of canals in Yarlung areas to divert water as a means of expanding the cultivated area. At this time, the Yarlung also introduced the wooden plough. The l1th Tsampo, Yishiuli, in order to meet the needs of development in agriculture and animal husbandry, introduced a system of numbers, units of measure for the area, and other units of measure. From the reign of the 9th Tsampo to the time of the l5th Tsampo, six palaces were built in Qenyu, which is today Qoingyai County in Shannan. Qoingyai was the established capital of the Yarlung Tribe. During the reign of the 28th Tsampo, Lhatotori Nyitsang, Buddhism spread into the Yarlung River Valley. The Tsampos claimed the sutras and Buddhist musical instruments brought by monks from Tianzhu (India) were secret and enshrined them in Yumbolhakng.

During the 6th century, the Yarlung River Valley culture shifted into a slave society. At that time, people could melt iron, copper and silver and began to make metal weapons on a large scale, laying a good foundation materially for the 30th Tsampo, Dari Nyizai, to establish the Tubo Kingdom. Dari Nyizai"s son, Namri Lungtsang, inherited his father"s cause. He annexed strong neighboring tribes and constantly expanded his territory, making the Yarlung Tribe the strongest in Tibet.

In the Middle of the 7th century, the 32th Tsampo, Songtsan Gambo, organized an army and conquered the Supi and Yamtong tribes. He continued his expansion and eventually united all of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau under the Tubo Kingdom. He then moved the capital from Qoingyai to Lhasa. In the "Tubo Map" which was shaped as laying Raksasi and personally made by Songtsan Gambo, Shannan"s Moinyu looked like the left palm of Raksasi while Changzhub Township in Nedong County was a ruling center Though the political and military centers in Tibet were moved north, Shannan, as the birth place of the Tubo Xingdom, retained its strategic and historical importance.

At the height of the Tubo Kingdom, numerous water conservation and irrigation projects were built along the banks of the Yarlung Zangbo River and throughout the Yarlung River Valley. Yaks and horses were commonly used to pull ploughs and production conditions were further improved. Grain output increased by a large margin, making Shannan a "storehouse of grain" in Tibet, a reputation the area retains still today At that time many of the older branches of the royal family stayed in Shannan. The ruling Tsampos often traveled from Lhasa to Shannan to hold court and visit with relatives. The Tang princesses Wencheng and Jincheng, who had married into the Tubo royal court, often visited the area. The 35th Tsampo, Tride Tsotsang, built a palace in Phodrang Township, today"s Nedong County for Princess Jincheng. The ruins of the palace testify to its grand scale. Each Tsampo continued to be buried at the royal tombs near Moru Mountain in Qoingyai.

Some important affairs of state were organized in Shannan. In the first part of the 8th century Zhanang Samye became the site of a principal tent of Tsampo. It was also the birthplace of the famous Tibetan King Trisun Detsan. He was enthroned in 755 and spent much of his 40-year reign in the Samye Monastery. Trisun Detsan was a pious Buddhist and took Samye as a base to give his support to the religion. He established the monastery at Samye, the first in Tibet combining three treasures of Buddha, Dharma and monks and over the years expanded it. He sent seven Tibetans to be tonsured. These became the Seven Scholars in Tibetan history. Trisun Detsan invited great master Padmasambhava and numerous eminent monks from India and Tang China to teach in Tibet. They translated Buddhist scriptures at Samye Monastery and spread Buddhism throughout Tibet. Due in large part to the support of Tride Tsotsang and other Tibetan kings, Buddhism spread rapidly and entered a period of prosperity.

With the collapse of the Tubo Kingdom, Tibet entered a period of fragmentation that lasted more than 400 years. War and famine took their toll on Shannan"s agricultural production and animal husbandry. Bitter suffering defined life in the Yarlung River Valley.

In 1253, the Yuan Emperor Monge sent his forces into Tibet. They reunited the region under the central authority of the Yuan Dynasty. At that time, the U-Tsang region was divided into l3 myriarchies (ten thousand households). Parts of Shannan Prefecture came under the control of several influential myriarchies, including the Pagzhu, Yasang, Yangzhog, and Tangbo. During the Sagya Regime, the Pagzhu Myriarchy grew in strength. In the 1lth century, the eminent monks Marba and Mila Riba founded the Gagyu Sect in Shannan. Then in l 156, Dorje Gyibo founded the Pagmo Zhuba branch of the Gagyu Sect, also known as the Pagzhu Sect.

In l322, Qamqoi Gyaincain became the head of the Pagzhu Myriarchy and developed agricultural production and animal husbandry by means of building water conservation works and harnessing new fields. He also ordered roads to be laid and the repair of the manor houses, allowing the Yarung River Valley to recover some of its former glory. In l349, Qamqoi Gyaincain toppled the local regime and taking advantage of strife within the Sagya Sect overthrew the Sagya Regime in l354. He was recognized by the Yuan court as the chief minister in charge of Tibetan affairs. He abolished the Myriarchy system and introduced the feudal serf and manor system. He designated the zong (county) as the basic administrative unit and set up l3 zongs. Zongboin (county heads), were appointed and Shika (manors) were granted to subordinates who rendered outstanding services. At the same time, he constructed or expanded palaces and the imperial city at Nedong for the Pagzhu Regime. Because Pagzhu"s ruling center was in Nedong, Pagzhu came to be known as the Nedong Kingdom and Qamqoi Gyaincain was called the Nedong King. The Pagzhu Regime lasted for 12 generations and ruled Tibet for 262 years.

During the reign of the Gaxag government (the local government of Tibet), there were two levels of government, the Gyichio (prefecture) and Zong (county). The Gyichio of Shannan had 23 Zongs divided into three categories depending on their size. A first grade of Zong was run by a fifth grade official with one monk and one layman. A second grade Zong was served by a sixth grade official with one monk and one layman or with one county head position in turn held by monk and laymen. A third grade Zong was run by a seventh grade official, generally with either a monk or layman. Prior to Tibetan liberation, there were 35 Zongs under the Gyichio of Shannan, including Wenzong and Dorzong.

During the 1,300 years from the 6th century to the Democratic reforms of 1959, Shannan experienced the transformation from a slave society to a feudal serf society. During this long and slow historical process, the people of Yarlung created a splendid culture with their diligence, courage and wisdom, making tremendous contributions to the establishment of the Tubo Kingdom, to the development of Tibetan nationality and to the promotion and consolidation of exchanges and unity between Tibetans and the ethnic groups in the Chinese hinterland.

From the Pagzhu Regime to the Democratic Reforms, Shannan Prefecture implemented the feudal serf system under the dictatorship of the feudal lords, Shannan was the earliest area in Tibet to shift from a slave society to a feudal serf system. The rule of the feudal system was comprehensive and rigid. The most influential estate holders, such as Soikang, Kemo, Lukangwa, Shoikang and Phodrang, held a manor in Shannan.

According to a survey conducted during the Democratic Reform, those three-estate holders, who accounted for only 5 percent of the total population in Shannan, owned almost all the land and most of the livestock. Over 95 percent of he serfs and slaves had no land or other means of production and suffered from the exploitation of their owners in terms of rents, taxes and usury. The three-estate holders could wantonly sell, mortgage or give away slaves. The ruling classes, in order to safeguard their system of control, leaned upon the ancient law codes that combined religion and politics.

There was no independent judiciary established to oversee the implementation of this legal system. County officials, manor holders and leading monks served as "judges" presiding over local cases. Their law enforcement principle was based on exacting fees. If the offender could not afford to pay the fee, a life sentence was often enforced. This clearly shows that the law under this system was a tool allowing serf owners to further exploit and suppress the serfs. The three-estate holders could use corporal punishment on their serfs and slaves. It was common for whippings, eyeball gouging, amputations, and lacerations to be applied by the serf owners. In addition, the ruling class used religion and its widespread influence to shore up its rules through spiritualism and ideology. As one former serf said, "my parents gave me a body, but my owner manipulated my body and all of life." The basic right to life of the serfs was not guaranteed.

On May 23, 1951, the central People"s Government and representatives of the local Tibetan government signed the "Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet" (the 17-Article Agreement). Tibet was liberated and Shannan Prefecture, like other places in Tibet, stepped onto a bright road of unity, progress and development. Since then, the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have enjoyed the right of ethnic equality and regional autonomy, the right to economic, cultural and educational development, and the right to raise their living standard, as well as the right to be involved in State and regional political affairs.

In 1959, Tibet overthrew the feudal serfdom system that had ruled Tibet for hundreds of years and turned to the Democratic Reforms. The history of the Tibet Autonomous Region began a new chapter. The laboring people became the masters of the social, economic and political life in the region. During the first six years after he founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region, form 1959 to 1965, incredible changes took place in Shannan. Tremendous achievements were made in economic construction. The combined industrial and agricultural output value grew at the annual rate of 9 percent. Agricultural production and animal husbandry saw improved harvest for several straight years on the 1959 basis. In 1965, total grain output hit 59 million kilograms, or quadruple that of 1959. The number of livestock increased for 1.28 million head in 1959 to 1.60 million head in 1965, an average rise of 3.8 percent annually. Financial, commercial, cultural and educational undertakings, as well as public health and post and telecommunications, saw rapid growth. Six years of democratic reform were praised by the liberated serfs as Tibet"s golden era. In September of 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was established. Shannan Prefecture, like other areas in the region, gradually fulfilled its socialist transformation of the means of production in the agricultural and pastoral areas.

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