Searching for Old Tibet

About a year ago I was driving my two girls (Namkha and Namtso) to school, early one morning, when the languid voice of Salman Rushdie drifted over on National Public Radio. He was being interviewed about his novel, Shalimar the Clown, which is set in Kashmir. Rushdie’s grandparents, on his mother’s side, were born and raised in the valley and he and his siblings spent their summers there. Rushdie held forth on the beauty of the region and somewhere during the interview declared that James Hilton had actually based the idea of this earthly paradise, the Shangri-La of his novel, Lost Horizon, on the Kashmir valley. Of course Salman sahib was getting somewhat carried away here, for anyone who’s read Lost Horizon it’s fairly clear that Hilton had done nothing of the kind.

First edition cover, Macmillan 1933.

A few rungs lower on the literary ladder we have Tom Grunfeld, author of The Making of Modern Tibet, who also insists that Tibet was not Hilton’s model for Shangri-La. In an old Tibetan Review article he maintained that when Hilton wrote Lost Horizon, he was not talking about Tibet at all, and that “… apparently the model which Hilton used were the valleys in what is now northern Pakistan.”[1]

The only problem with this sort of literary “relocationism” is that Hilton himself does not express any ambiguity, or provide for any alternative interpretation, for the setting of his novel. The book clearly states that the “lamasery” of Shangri-La was in Tibet, that the native people were Tibetans, spoke the Tibetan language, practiced Tibetan Buddhism and polyandry, wore sheepskin robes and yak leather boots and believed that they were “descended from monkeys”.

Hilton also provides specific geographical references with which one can establish a fairly exact fix for the location of his lost world. At the beginning of the novel, when the European characters in the story are abducted on a plane from Baskul (Kabul?) to Peshawar, the hero, Conway tries to figure out where they are flying. When asked about it by a fellow passenger he replies “Its not easy to judge but probably some part of Tibet.” Later when the flight has crash-landed Conway makes a more definite assessment. “He guessed that the flight had progressed far beyond the Western range of the Himalayas, towards the less known heights of the Kuen Lun. In that event they would by now have reached the loftiest and least hospitable part of the earth’s surface, the Tibetan plateau.”

A couple more geographical references in the book settles the argument once and for all. Midway in the story the head lama of the Shangri-La “lamasery” tells Conway the story of a Capuchin monk who, traveling from Peking south-west by Lanchow and the Kokonor for some months, accidentally stumbles onto the valley of the Blue Moon where Shangri-La is located. Then towards the end of the story we learn that after his escape from Shangri-La, Conway somehow ends up at a hospital in Chung Kiang (Chunking?) in China, most probably getting there via Tatsien Fu, “a world’s end market-town for the tea trade to Tibet.” There can be no doubt that the author was in point of fact referring to Tachienliu, or Dhartsedo (which is the original Tibetan name), the major frontier town and trade mart on the Sino-Tibetan border.

Now, if we take a mental drafting compass and enscribe three roughly equal-sized arcs: the first south from the Kuen Lun mountains, the second south-west from Kokonor and the third due west from Dhartsedo, (or just draw three circles from those points) they will intersect around the lower Changtang in the vicinity of the great Namtso Lake. As smack in the middle of Tibet as you could have placed it, even if you were not doing it on purpose.

For all those attempting to relocate Shangri-La to Kashmir, Pakistan or anywhere else, no advice would be more pertinent than Conway’s plea to his friends to put aside arguments about where they were and acknowledge their actual situation: “Merely that we are in Tibet, which is obvious.”

But obviousness does not seem to be a deterrent to Communist party cadres and modern businessmen in China. In the mid 1990s, Shangri-La fever gripped southwest China with the news that the Himalayan utopia had finally been found. A Naxi (jangba Tib.) musicologist, Xuan Ke, claimed that James Hilton had been inspired by articles written about upper Yunnan and Lijiang by American scholar Joseph Rock in the National Geographic Magazine. In 2002, by official decree from Beijing, three counties in upper Yunnan were officially renamed Shangri-La County and the largest town Zhongdian became Shangri-La town. The whole thing has now become big business with Shangri-La brand cigarettes, soaps, hotels, restaurants, discos, travel agencies, and what have you, but even an entire Shangri-La theme park.

The problem with Xuan Ke’s theory is that the only National Geographic article written by Rock prior to the publication of Lost Horizon (1933) was on two areas in Sichaun province (Muli and Yading). He never wrote an article on Zhongdian or Upper Yunnan, and only mentions those places in his book The Ancient Nakhi Kingdom of South West China published in 1947. Veteran Tibet guidebook author Michael Buckley recently came out with Shangri-La: A Travel Guide to the Himalayan Dream, which deals with the whole Shangri-La phenomenon – players, places and controversies – in an entertaining and informative manner.

And anyway Zhongdian (Gyalthang), Muli (Mili),  Upper Yunnan and Western Sichuan are all Tibetan areas. Even Beijing’s power to reorder the truth cannot really pull Hilton’s dream valley too far away from its essential Tibetan orientation, without killing the utopian vision outright.

I know some Tibetan readers will be annoyed with me for wasting time and energy disputing Tibet’s claim to Hilton’s Shangri-La. “Let Kashmir, Pakistan or Beijing have it if they want,” they will say “The whole thing’s been more of a nuisance than it’s worth.” In a way I couldn’t agree more. Whenever something positive or agreeable appears about old Tibet in print, film or discussion, it doesn’t take long for leftist intellectuals or China apologists to cry out in protest against another Shangri-La delusion being foisted on a gullible Western public to cover up the truth about Tibet’s horrible past.

In a conference in Beijing in 2001, Tom Grunfeld assured his hosts that this particularly reprehensible kind of deception was finally coming to an end in America. I reproduce a quotation from his statement, which was widely circulated in Xinhua, The People’s Daily, Worker’s World and other media organs of the far left.  “The Dalai Lama’s description of the Tibet under his serfdom rule as “Shangri-La” has led to an infatuation with Tibet, which is a fad that will soon fade and become inconsequential in American history.”[2]  The fact that the Dalai Lama has never once described Tibet as Shangri-La in any of his talks or writings, or for that matter has probably never read Hilton’s book, in no way seems to deter Grunfeld or other of Tibet’s critics (Michael Parenti, Barry Sautman et al.) from this line of attack.

Yet having one of the most archetypal of all utopias or lost worlds identified with your own country is undeniably “cool”, as my daughter, Namkha, put it when I explained the whole thing to her. The appeal gains in allure with the knowledge that this archetype has been incorporated into the most successful novel in this genre, and is, reputedly, the book that began the paperback revolution. It is no wonder we have Salman Rushdie claiming it for his native Kashmir or Tom Grunfeld trying his best to wrest it away from Tibet and pass it on to Pakistan[3], America’s staunch ally in the fight against global Islamo-fascism, or whatever it is being called right now. But the bottom line is that whether Tibetans or their detractors approve of this image or not, the fact remains that James Hilton clearly placed his Shangri-La in Tibet, and even if this appears to be only an inconsequential bit of business, it is not for us or for anyone else to change it one way or the other to suit emotional, ideological or commercial needs.

And come to think of it, this might be the correct guiding philosophy to adopt whenever having a discussion about old Tibet.  Even if there is some trivial, insignificant or even embarrassing detail about old Tibet, it is important that we value it enough to be rigorously truthful about it. Whatever it may have been, it is, for better or for worse, a part of our own collective past. Whatever good there was in old Tibet (and there was much) are legacies we should cherish and pass on to our own children. And that for me includes stories and legends – even those written about us by other people. The shortcomings of our forbears must certainly be acknowledged, but not with shame or denial, but rather with understanding, a sense of humour and most importantly, an eye to reform.

Anyway, why should Tibetans be apologetic about their past or feel self-conscious when Shangri-La is mentioned? If English theatre-goers can enjoy an exciting play by Shakespeare about an absolute monster of a king, Richard the Third; and if Americans can mythologize a cold-blooded young killer, William Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid, (among a whole slew of other murderous frontier heroes) then why should Tibetans have to act conscience-stricken if the  Shangri-La mystique provides a little extra mileage to the cause?

It really doesn’t matter if an Englishman created this myth for us. When Meji Japan drastically discarded much of its traditional way of life in an effort to create a modern state, Lafcadio Hearne, pretty much single-handedly foisted the romantic vision of feudal Japan, not only on a grateful Western reading public, but on Japanese posterity, which now gratefully remembers his contribution with a small museum at the seaside town of Matsue, and in school textbooks where his wonderful stories of “ghostly” Japan still live on.

It is especially important now for Tibetans to adopt a “no retreat no surrender” position on all such issues as Beijing has launched a full-scale assault on our history and national identity. It started earlier this year, with the declaration on March 28th of a new national holiday, “Serf Emancipation Day”,  which has received a higher-order of  examination in the three preceding postings (on this site) by Warren Smith, Tsering Shakya and Elliot Sperling, and also with China’s official commemoration of the “50th Anniversary of Democratic Reform in Tibet”. This was celebrated with “cultural” programs, functions, parades and speeches all over Tibet and also a major exhibition in Beijing, where Chinese girls wearing blue silk chubas guided foreign and Chinese visitors through the exhibitions of the horrors of “feudal” Tibet.

So from now on if the question is ever posed to me (especially by fenqing types or inji “running-dogs”) about whether Tibet was really Shangri-La under the rule of the Dalai Lama, I am going to reply, very truthfully, that old Tibet definitely had it shortcomings (and that I am probably the most outspoken native critic of Tibetan conservatism and leadership, past and present) but compared to Chinese occupied Tibet (over a million people dead, many thousands of temples and monuments destroyed, sacred art looted by the thousands of metric tonnes, judicial torture, secret police, laogai camps, informers, etc. etc. etc.) it certainly was  Shangri-La, without the miraculous longevity bit, of course. And then I would back it all up with facts, figures and entertaining anecdotes.

For some time now I have been collecting information for a series of essays on various aspects of old Tibetan society and civilization that I feel requires rigorous evaluation and discussion without the usual academic consideration for Beijing’s reaction. There is of course the topic of “feudalism” itself, and whether Tibet was in the strict sense of the term actually a feudal society, and other related topics such as “taxation and land ownership”, “law and punishment” and so on. I would also like to do something on children’s education (non-monastic) in old Tibet, women’s place in society, “national” healthcare (or lack thereof), traditional environmental consciousness, and so on. A few years ago I came out with a five-part essay on the modernization of traditional Tibetan society and language, which I am enlarging and eventually hope to bring out as a book.

The first one of these essays on old Tibet that I hope to have out in a couple of weeks is tentatively titled “The Evolution of Legal Punishment in Old Tibet”. I think such a study would be timely as Beijing has now revived its old charges (that it conveniently dropped in the 80’s and 90’s in order to woo the Dalai Lama and exile Tibetans to accept Beijing’s rule in Tibet) about slavery, cruel punishments, scorpion-filled dungeons and so on, and has put photographs and related objet trouve on display in the Tibet Exhibition in Beijing. I am aware that one bit of writing is not going to even dent the surface of China’s propaganda machine (the party secretary in Lhasa called my writings “the wings of a fly beating against a rock) but just for myself, for my own personal satisfaction, I will have set the record straight on this, once and for all.



[1]. A. Tom Grunfeld, “Tibetan History: A Somewhat Different Approach” Tibetan Review, June 1981.

[2]. Workers World, October 2, 2003

[3]. Actually the claim for northern Pakistan comes about because Hilton visited the Hunza area on a trip to India. But then he also visited a number of other places in the Himalayas at the time including the Darjeeling area, which he alludes to in his novel.  It has been claimed that the isolated valley town of Weaverville, California, in far northern Trinity County, was an inspiration, but this is the result of a misinterpretation of a comment by Hilton in a 1941 interview, in which he said that Weaverville reminded him of Shangri-La.


150 Replies to “Searching for Old Tibet”

  1. Maybe that Chinese official didn’t realize the fly’s wings are made of metal. One need not apolotise for the topic. It does us good to expand our interest beyond political aspects of our nation—-
    I confess that I enjoy this sort of writing more

  2. Thank you for saying all that. You’re right on the money, Jamyanglaa, when you say that the pressing need to counter Beijing propaganda has sometimes produced some real howlers, even some that are deeply idiotic. Not just from the people who say that Old Tibet was a totally non-violent place or a Shangri-la. But also from those who say that he (the Father Land, or Pha-yul, being masculine after all) had no hunger and no disease. (I don’t want to name names, but I have real instances in mind, even one person who once spoke on NPR.) Anyone who deals with sources in any language on Tibetan history notices that there were famines (mu-ge) and smallpox epidemics (‘brum-nad). Tibetan biographies are particularly rich in references to these facts of life. Nothing special here, since famines and epidemics were happening in every part of the Eurasian continent. I’m hoping the Tibetans-in-exile and Tibet supporters will learn, those who haven’t learned already, that it’s not a shouting contest, not a game of tit-for-tat retorts. (And not a contest pitting total perfection against irredeemable evil.) One side ought to be reasonable and reasonably truthful, getting things straight about both the past and viable plans for the future. Since it’s not going to be the party currently running the PRC it’s got to be us.

  3. Jamyang la, enjoyed the article, and am encouraged to know that there will be new materials coming to use to fight the on coming renewed Chinese assault on Tibet’s history and culture. Very much looking forward to your coming essays.

    thank you

  4. Let me propose a simple answer to this complex myth. The name ‘shangrila’ had to come from somewhere, a place that was real or imagined. I have a sense that it is in fact a reference to a mountain pass. This is obvious from the two syllables, RI:mountain and LA:pass.I haven’t read the novel, but I imagine the author asking a local directions and the local in Tibetan telling him to cross that mountain pass. So the answer to the mystery of this place lies in this mountain’s name: SHANG. The problem is that there is no such mountain anywhere along the Himalayan or Kunlun ranges. So, I guess that the name actually is JHANG which means ‘north’ in Tibetan and that it came out SHANG to a foreigner’s ear. This theory is very probable as Tibetans don’t often name mountains, but refer to them according to their direction from the village or town.

  5. jamyang la, I am with you too.

    Just one thing to ask: The other day I met HHDL’s personal biographer and he is quiet confident that the present Tibet’s national anthem Sishi Pendhen was composed by late Trijang Rinpoche during the regency of Tagdak rinpoche, prior to 1959. But in your Tibet Independent booklet, it is mentioned that it was composed in exile.

    How certain are you?

  6. Mipham la,
    I got my information from a close disciple of Trichang Rimpoche. He told me that it was written after we got to India and that Surkhang,who was the senior kashag minister at the time requested Trichang rimpoche to write it. But many of these memories are not 100% reliable, so if your informant, HHDL’s personal biographer, could provide more details to verify his statement I would be most grateful. I will recheck with my source. J

  7. Wings like that started many revolutions, movements and consequently swallowed tyrant governments in the past.

    To Party Secretary- don’t underestimate ‘wings’ like that; you might have to stand trail for crime against humanity when these very wings becomes so powerful that one United flap will rumble the existence CCP.

  8. the chinese have designated parts of so-called yunnan province as the site of james hilton’s shangri-la. Jamyang la, you are right his holiness has never claimed old tibet as shangrila with no faults. but i do agree tibet was an earthly paradise. it was a shangrila. but since chinese occupation, this shangrila, or we can say, tibetan culture, is on the brink of extinction. in the recent india today conclave held in new delhi, his holiness, while delivering his keynote address, said, “if the issue of tibet is not resolved, tibetan culture, or to me shangrila, will be finished in 10-15 years”.

    personally i found my own personal shangrila, in my tibetan refugee settlement in orissa, where i was born…please read the story below, about my journey to phuntsokling (land of abundance) tibetan settlement during this tibetan new year…(the story was published on, the official website of the tibetan government in exile)

    It’s dawn. I could see a vast open field from my train windows; the sun has just arisen, its colorful rays illuminating the entire space. It is peaceful, serene, and all green. Not a soul exists. It appears
    paradise has descended here. Far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this must be the place where Gods dwell. Such a vast open field; perhaps historical battles might have been fought here between the ancient Hindu kings. Birds fly in the open and borderless sky. I wish I could spread my wings and join them.

    A station finally arrives. Nature seems to be shedding its tears; it’s dusty and gloomy. Torn papers were littered all around. Electric poles stand in line, as if they are guarding the local Indians attending the nature’s early call.

    Just stepped into the borders of Orissa; passengers around me dabble in Oriya. All are cheered up and are at the top of their wits. Is it because, they are closer home or due to the arrival of lunch? Perhaps a combination of both methinks.

    Arrived in Berampur. Paid a call at Girija restaurant, the city’s pride, where some of the world’s most delicious chickens are served. Spoons, forks are NO NO. You got to use your ten fingers to fully enjoy the delicacy. A glass of lassi outside the restaurant completes a fine lunch. Of course, the threat of mosquitoes, and, because of it, the malaria, is always there. People still smile, and life goes on!

    Anarakali lodge, another pride of Behrampur’s, breathed its last. The global economic recession seems to have its deadly impact here as well. The hotel has been converted into an insurance company. The lake nearby, as expected, is parched and dry. Rukmini and Gautam seems to
    have lost their sheen, as they only show Oriya films. Paramjoti still reigns, as it showed a latest Bollywood movie of Sharukh Khan…

    We spent the night at the Hotel ROYAL CASTLE, supposed to be the most opulent in the city. Contradiction has reached its zenith here. It’s air-conditioned, but infested with mosquitoes. Fans smeared with dust, there was no running water, and the phone is dead as ever. ROYAL CASTLE, THE NAME REALLY CONNED US!

    Hired a taxi home; arrived in Phuntsokling. Everything seems a plenty, including the mosquitoes. Just had a chat with young Tibetan lads of this settlement, about Tibetans boycotting the New Year. Some say the boycott is done to oppose China’s ongoing violence in Tibet; some say it is done to remember our fifty years in exile, while some say it is to mourn the death of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s brother, a staunch Rangzen activist throughout his life. I thought, “Well here are some sincere and well meaning young Tibetan boys who are not affected by the germs of Middle Way and Rangzen split”.

  9. This is a very interesting and illuminating line of reasoning. It amazes me, though not surprises me, that even fictional accounts of “Old Tibet” are being assaulted or twisted around so as to claim that such accounts are not of Tibet at all. It is as if all fictions except the PRC’s favorite propaganda lines, are being deliberately denied.

    I have heard the tired American leftist cliches about old Tibet and about how the current Tibetan resistance is misguided, etc etc etc. When I explain that I understand Marxist terminology and blast the propaganda to refute them, they get pissed off and simply repeat their assertions. They refuse to admit that anyone who admires or supports the Tibetan struggle would be even just a little informed of facts on the ground or even of the history of Tibet. They use the Shangri La idea as a strawman, as if supporters of Tibet are really just deluded and have no merit and buy into a fantasy.

    It is funny how a people’s struggle to be free can be thought of by leftists as yearning for a fantastic historical fiction. But this shows where many leftists stand clearly: they see Tibetan nationhood as a fiction. They buy China’s view, lock stock and barrel. Whole hog, even.

    Speaking of hogs, it reminds me of pigs at the trough. I guess I shall keep my steel toed boots on. There is much more kicking of pigs to be done.

  10. please write a paper on the so called leftists and china apologists “feudal tibet” and set the record straights. Thank you NG

  11. thanks hugh, I was just going to provide the links to newgeneration about the running dogs. Newgeneration, you will enjoy those articles thoroughly.

    I am also very eager to read the upcoming articles about old Tibet, good or bad. I don’t think we have anything to apologize for in our history. It has been relatively benign in all aspects of its life compared to most of the other countries. Thanks for this article. It also reminded me of the situation where people start attributing the ‘message of peace’ that Jesus brought to the middle east to Hinduism or Buddhism as it was rather a foreign concept in that region for a long time before Christ. I guess everybody wants to have a piece of the mythological pie. haha.

    Wazayak, good to see you here and hear one more of your ideas.

  12. another appropraition that gets on nerve is the term ‘living buddha’. I think its a misnomer and makes the tibetan system of reincarnation sound stupid.

  13. My point in putting up this letter is twofold. First most people here are likely to write to Seabrook. Second, the letter illuminates an aspect of old Tibet that was not perfect but was better than most of the rest of the world, including the so called enlightened nations.
    We all know how women were treated in the rest of the world not very long ago.

    Pasting the content here screwed up the paragraphing but you all can see the general content of the letter. I hope all of you will write to his gentelman. Thanks.

    Mr. Larry Seabrook,
    3687-A White Plains Road
    Bronx, New York 10467

    April 25, 2009
    Dear Councilman Seabrook,

    The five member delegation you met in March was a Chinese propaganda mission designed to deflect international scrutiny of the human rights situation in Tibet.

    If there is any distortion of information, it is from the Chinese side and not from Tibetan refugees. Many Tibetans have risked their lives to get out of Tibet. It is hard to get information out of Tibet but if you search for “Nangpala pass shooting” online you will see what risks Tibetans have taken to get out since 1959.

    The U.S. is a nation built on the principles of human rights, democracy, liberty and freedom and it should be a friend to the victims and not the perpetrators of colonialism.

    As someone who fled Tibet because of lack of freedom there, I was disappointed that you accepted the Chinese version of the situation in Tibet expressed by a few Tibetans who were allowed jobs by the occupying power, whereas the vast majority of Tibetans know that their situation was much better before the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army occupied their homeland and suppressed their language and gave work only to Tibetans who knew Chinese and would repeat the formulas that came out of Beijing. The reality is there are no human rights, no democracy, no liberty, and no freedom in Tibet.

    If their claims about the situation in Tibet were true, then why is the world media prevented from going into Tibet?

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you for taking an interest in Tibet. We always stress that people should hear information from both sides (unfortunately people in China and Tibet only get one-sided information as you know). I would like to request you to meet any Tibetan (whose family cannot be persecuted in Tibet) in New York City to find out the true situation in Tibet. There are Tibetans in New York who have suffered torture in Chinese prisons for participating in peaceful protests.

    I urge that you make an effort to visit Tibet for yourself but do so without being part of a government-sponsored tour.

    Tibetan women before the Chinese occupation enjoyed rights exceeding their counterparts even in the West. Tibetan women were not victims of social ills such as dowry system or binding of feet. Tibetan girls are not aborted when they are fetuses. Women of Tibet do not have to change their names to the husband’s after their marriage. Of course women everywhere deserve more rights than they have now, including Tibetans, but it is wrong to accept the Chinese government propaganda that Tibetan women suffered more before the Chinese invasion.

    With thanks for your interest in Tibet, looking forward to your response,


  14. again, there seems to be misunderstanding here. speaking from another perspective, rushdie was right in claiming that “shangri la” once belonged to “kashmir”. because historical research has proved that Uddiyana, the land where guru padmasambhava was born, includes modern day pakistan’s swat valley and parts of today’s kashmir.

    thats academic part, the real Shangrila is a search for love within oneself…for that you need to acquire the “third eye” or “sixth” sense…as Hollywood directors are quite aware of…

  15. it still doesn,t prove that the so called Shangrila referred to Kashmir or the Swat valley. Uddiyana was where Guru rinpoche was born and so were other famed scholars. In fact Guru rinpoche had later requested Trisong deutsen to send for teachings to be brought back from there. Prof. Namkhai norbu writes that the dzogchen scripts probably originated from there.It was apparently a shining jewel as far as the tantras and buddhist scriptures were concerned. Sadly today its the mother of all taliban strongholds. These gun toting bearded pathans with false Rayban sunglasses have no idea about hte great civilization of their ancestors.Tsk! Tsk!

    I think i remeber reading that there was reference to a place in gyalthang very much resembling the scene described by Hilton in his book and had probably been influenced by it.
    While i am still here would like to request JN to share his opinions on the origins of the gesar saga although we would be diverting a little away from our main topics of discussion.

  16. patans came from middleeast so guru rinpoche was not their ancester. during his time, the valleys were inhabited by bhuddhist indians.
    to the amdos “gesar” was a amdo warrior king but to the khampas, gesar was a khampa warrior king but to the chinese, gesar was a chinese war god. but the truth is, gesar was an epic story written by some tibetan buddhist lama doptop as much as “ramayan” was composed by vasudeva. lord ram or rama never happened historically so is the case with “gesar”.
    but this gesar story is works wonders to boil the enthusiasm/blood of tibetans to rise up on the horison and dash towards the enemy with the sword of truth and justice. it creates a warrior environment on everyday basis. it’s different from modern military.
    people are brave, patriotic, reliable in danger, honest, straighforward, and proud. but sometimes there is bloodshed.

  17. also tibetans believe gesar was the reincarnation of dalai lama and denma-the reincarnation of karmapa and aku tothoong-the reincarnation of sakya lama.
    but some say gesar was a sort of spirit that sometimes enters some lonely sheperdress in the wilderness but we are not supposed to say it’s a just a spirit so coz it hurts the sentiments of those who believe that gesar was a reincarnation of a buddha. similar to shugyi story.

  18. How could gesar be the reincarnation of dalai lama? The dalai lama is a much later institution.Gesar has been around for at least 2 millenia.Aku tothoong sakya lama thats a laugh!Actually most people say guru rinpoche is a manifestation of gesar.There are many who know the gesar epic including mongolians, Bhutanese, sikkimese, Ladakhis, buryats, hunza , some turkic tribes(black uighurs) mostly the narrations vary. I read a very interesting book about the saga written by a german scholar who spent decades in amdo till the advent of the chinese communists.He argues that the saga could have its origins revolving around a kingdom in this area.Between kham and amdo.He puts the date of its happening or the saga itself between 400BC to 200BC which is much earlier than what most people would have us believe.He makes many good arguments for his theory and by the way the book is also not lacking in historical insights into the tibetan culture. Actually the book is quite old and published in german.
    Also let me mention that guanyin is chinese god of war. They chinese later tried to equate him with gesar so as to fit him into the tibetan pantheon.Also I dont think that the terms amdo and khampa existed at the time of gesar or at least at the time that the legend took its roots.Not too sure though.I dont think gesar was written by a lama dobtob. I think in fact its a much older saga preceeding buddhism by at least a few centuries. Of course through the ages its contents have been changed to suit the prevailing circumstances. Pretty sure about that!

  19. JIGME,
    The term “guanyin” (or guanshiyin) was introduced to north China through translated Sanskrit Buddhist text in the 4th century. It was depicted as a male since the introduction then somehow gradually changes to a female in appearance. Guanyin belief is widely accepted in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam; guanyin is definitely not a god of war in East Asia Buddhism instead it represents compassion and mercy.

  20. gesar..2 millinium? 200 bc? 400 bc? gesar story was about rooting out forces against buddhism. du akyung(a giant hindu in and around himachal pradesh)..jangsadang dyalpo(a giant muslim(36 feet tall) in the north..three times bigger than du akyung..atleast 12 feet tall)..therung lama( a bonpo lama)..etc and buddhism came to tibet from india in 700 century ad. so how can gesar be earlier? many believe gesar was born and raised in markham between 9th century ad to 10 century ad).and a reincarnation of cheresi who was a deciple of the fourth buddha 2600 years ago. cheresi and dalai lama are believed to be same. guru rinpoche and cheresi are same. cheresi–more peaceful form and guru rinpoche-a little stern form and tamdin–the wrathful form. in essence they are all believed to be same.

  21. I once read somewhere that Gesar is some sort of adaptation of of Caesar. If Roman culture and letters were not so alien to Tibetans in the past I would have found credibility in that insinuation … That the C was read as K sound.

    But then the story of Caesar would have spread to Tibet in those days.

  22. In my opinion it is perverse to claim Guru Rinpoche as reincarnation of Gesar or vice versa. After all Guru Rinpoche was supposed to have gone to Tibet propagate Buddhism. Gesar legend is suppose to predate the historical Tibetan kings which means he was Bonpo. Later on Buddhists modified and turned him into a Buddhist.

  23. Jigme, well said.

    I think Manchu emperors and Chinese worshiped Gesar as a form of war-god Kuan-ti instead of Guanyin.
    Also, I think the Mongolian Gesar epic is very different from Tibetan version.

  24. Lhagon,

    That makes sense, JIGME must be thinking Guan-Di (Kuan-ti in Wade-Giles) instead of Guanyin. I don’t think Manchu emperors and Chinese worshiped Gesar as a form of war god, in fact Gesar story is not widely known in China at all while Guan-Di worship in China has more than one thousand years history. It is quite possible that the Guan-Di belief was introduced to Tibet in the Mongol Yuan Dynasty and somehow blended with Gesar legend. According to a Chinese language website there is a Guan-Di Temple in Lhoka (TAR) with mixed Chinese and Tibetan elements.

  25. Religion is Medicine,
    If it was the case that the Kuan-Ti belief was introduced to Tibet from China, why there is no slight mention of the name of Kuan-Ti in Tibetan epic of King Gesar of Ling?

    I read even the Mongol version of Gesar Khan Epic being developed after Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Mongolia.
    In 18th century Khangxi commissioned to wood block printed the Mongolian Epic of Gesar for his reverence for the war-god Kuan-ti and wished that Kaun-ti is King Gesar.

    Tibetans King Gesar Epic was heroic tales of primitive Tibetan tribal period, and is rich of Tibetness and has been told for centuries orally.

  26. The Guan Di (or Guan Yu) cult probably came to Tibet with the Manchu occupation. In 1792 The Amban in Lhasa erected the small Guan Di (god of war) temple in Bamari west of the Potala, to commemorate victory over the Gurkhas.

    Tibetans called the place “Gesar temple” because the images of Guan Di, Liu Bei and other Chinese heroes wear suits of armour and carry weapons like Gesar and his warriors. English visitors as Charles Bell were told by their guides that the temple was dedicated to Gesar and compounded the mistake by writing about the Chinese god as Gesar. The temple actually has nothing to do with Gesar or Tibet. It is a purely Chinese style temple with yarrow sticks for divination and an old copy of the I Ching for consultation.

    After the expulsion of the Chinese from Lhasa in 1912, the 13th Dalai Lama appointed a monk to look after the temple – out of respect for a place of worship – even a foreign one. If I am not mistaken, all the statues and stuff in the Temple was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.

  27. this is a very insightful article but i have some reservations:
    it is very modest to see others narrative of oneself with “an eye of reform” maybe….but it presupposes an acceptance of the other’s representation of the self
    it would be merely strategic and not logical to accept the myth of shangrila for tibet…”a mileage to the cause”
    what should be the parameters of accepting narratives on tibet? there are narratives by chinese as well…

  28. Sorry for the mistake. It is Kuangti that i meant to imply. As JN says it was the manchus who wanted to ingratiate themselves with the tibetans and tried to equate kuangti with gesar. Again ther is misconception in my view that every thing else except buddhist past is right or good. In fact it was th e time when Tibet or the cultural tibet was most strong when it wasnt buddhist. Infact there is little evidence to suggest that the graet religious kings were really against Bon and this is apparent in that Langdarma himself was a great patron of bon. This couldnt have happened if Buddhism was the true state religion. Later historians will paint a buddhistic picture of everything.Also note that in the gesar epic there is no mention of the great yarlung kings. Surely this period of 250 years which shaped the cultural and political history would have been mentioned or at least shaped the course of the epic?Morover the amdo versions of the epic are apparently unadulterted if i may use the word. There is no mention of gesar and his men fighting for the dharma or the buddhist deities. Yes there is no doubt that there is mention of him fighting the Hor as being believers of the Bon religion.Apparently Bon was followed in other places and there was a shamanistic religion preexisting Bon in the tibetan cultural sphere.It is i think generally accepted that the turks were the Hor referred to in Gesar.There seem to be certain turkic tribes who still consider themselves to be the descendents of hor and enemies of gesar.In short gesar was defending this prebon religion against bon which later did spread and amlgamate with the lokal shamanism in tibet.Since buddhism came much later there was the need to accomodate it and so there are versions of gesar as dharma protector etc. The Kaiser theorie does not seem to hold much water but it is fascinating for many westerners who would like to see it that way.Gesar is homegrown alright with influences of course from neighbours.The kingdom of lingtsang claim descent from gesar. It was already in existenxe when the dege kingdom was being formed in 10th century.When the ling kingdom in the 16th century along with Beri state were conquered by the gushri khan and the 5 horpa states created both these kingdoms were bon at that time . It is said they were descendents of a half brother of gesar.

  29. Jigme,
    I heard A German scholar named Hermann wrote on Amdo version of Gesar Epics, DO you know if there is a English transaltion of his?

  30. I’m anxious to read Jamyang Norbu La’s extensive upcoming work on old Tibet.

    Also I’ve a question for Jamyang La about William of Rubruck’s 13 line description of Tibetan people and our belief system.

    He described Tibetan people as cannibals and said Tibetans used to eat their dead parents’ corpse and spared only bowels for the sake of religious belief. Then he goes on and said even Today (1253-1255) they make good handsome drinking bowls from their dead parent’s skull. Then he said I heard this from someone who saw it. Further down the line he said he saw many misshapen Tibetans by himself.
    1 Do you know what/who was his source of information on Tibet ?
    2 Was there some else earlier than him who wrote similar on Tibet?

  31. Yes Prof Hermanns wrote an amdo version -Das National Epos der Tibeter-The national epic of the Tibetans.I dont know if there is an englissh version. Will check out with my library and let you know.The version has however only understandably one chapter .I suppose otherwise it would have been too long.

  32. Also I believe that Prof namkhai norbu had wriiten or is writing a history of Tibet upto the beginning of the yarlung dynasty or till the reign of Songtsen gampo -not sure.Three volumes. That might shed some light on things too.However I dont seem to be able to get my hands on it.

  33. wazayak,
    SHANG. The problem is that there is no such mountain anywhere along the Himalayan or Kunlun ranges. So, I guess that the name actually is JHANG which means ‘north’ in Tibetan and that it came out SHANG to a foreigner’s ear.

    In Amdo dialect,it is pronounced as ‘Shang’ for north.

  34. Wasn’t Shang Shung one of the kingdoms within Tibet? Wasn’t one of Songtsen Gonpo’s wives from there?
    Didn’t Thomi Sambhota meet a man from Shangshung who gave him one of the letters he needed to make up our thirty letters?

  35. French scholar Alexandra David-Neel and Lama Yongden published “La Vie surhumaine de Guesar De Ling” The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling. Says it was published in 1930.

  36. Actually the complete title is: La Vie Surhumaine de Guesar de Ling
    Le Heros Thibetain (Tibetan Hero)
    Recontee par les bardes de son pays. (As told by the bards of their country)

  37. @Lhagon- i too wonder where from such images of tibet come- cannibalism to think of!!
    an extract from chapter 1 of HH DL autibiography ‘freedom in exile’will be intresting:
    “once, i remember being told, there was a terrible famine in nearby China. As a result, many poor Chinese people were driven over the border in search of food. one day, a couple appeared at our door, carrying in their arms a dead child. they begged my mother for food, which she readily gave them. then she pointed at their child and asked whether they wanted help to bury it. when they had caught her meaning, they shook their heads and made clear that they intended to eat it. my mother was horrified and at once invited them in….”

    i guess if cannibalism was a practice in tibet, HH dalai lama’s mother would not have been shocked even when the Chinese couple intended to eat the dead baby out of survival instinct.

  38. Shangshung was definitely one of the powerful kingdoms in west tibet encompassing parts of present day india like lahaul spiti kinnaur etc and seemed to be a bonpo citadel too, like Yarlung itself . However it seemed to have collapsed after Songtsen gampo crushed the revolt there annexed it and never seemed to rise again. Theres talk of a script having existed before thonmi sambhota in the Shangshung scriptures. Not proved though but very probable according to Prof. Namkhai Norbu. Much of the descruction during the wars and civil strife seemed to be so thorough leaving our history with huge gaps.

  39. Well, these are two different things; a practice of humans eating human flesh as food (cannibalism) and at a time of famine and drought one eats human flesh for survival.

    I used a read some extracts from a book called Tombstone (Mùbēi), written by a Chinese reporter named Yang Jisheng, the extracts were about people eating dead people’s flesh out of unbearable hunger during the great famine in china during the Great Leap Forward Movemen(1958-1963)that caused death of over 36 million people in china according to his report.

    Also at the time of his interview in one location in inner China, some of the famine survivors told him saddest stories of their own how hunger forced them to eat sometimes their own dead kins.

    But what Friar William from the village of Rubruck tried to depict Tibetans as cannibals are mean and baseles, and is a lie.

  40. I this cannibalism in Tibet is a tribute Goldstein’s distortion and invention. He must be feeding on her diverced wife in Ohio. Anyway, goldtein’s report so baseless because he saw a dead baby was found somewhere, and he jumped to the conclusion that human sacrificial, even cannibalism was practised in Tibet. I want to make one point fdor those who were born in Tibet and only rely on third party sources. In amdo, in my home town, usually dead bodies of older people are cremated. But when babies die, it does not get cremated, instead, the dead body of the baby is wrapped in khata and other new clothes and put in a hole close to the place where dead bodies are cremated. Then the holes are blocked well. As a child, I used to be afraid to go in that direction after darkness because dead bodies are cremated and little bodies are busied. I think, Goldstein might it as a human sacrificial ceremony if he sees it.

  41. Lhagon that is the point that i am also making. if that what Friar William or Goldstein paint were to be the truth…if cannibalism was a practice in tibet, HH DL’s mother would not have been shocked to learn that the chinese couple could eat the dead baby since it would have been intrinsic to her culture then.
    it is about narratives from different perspectives…as newgenerationtb also suggests, the narrative of death in tibet must have been misread by those who see it from the others narrative.
    a departure from this, can anyone tell me what should be the parameters of accepting texts as tibetan literature: the ethnic origin of the author, the location of the author or the subject of the text?

  42. Lhagon that is the point that i am also making. if that what Friar William or Goldstein paint were to be the truth…if cannibalism was a practice in tibet, HH DL’s mother would not have been shocked to learn that the chinese couple could eat the dead baby since it would have been intrinsic to her culture in case.
    it is about narratives from different perspectives…as newgenerationtb also suggests, the narrative of death in tibet must have been misread by those who see it from “the others eye”.
    a departure from this, can anyone tell me what should be the parameters of accepting texts as tibetan literature: the ethnic origin of the author, the location of the author or the subject of the text?

  43. In the eyes of Goldstein and his kind, everything about Tibet is ugly, naive and insignificant, yet fun to mess around.

    For him, Sera, Drepung and Gaden are gathering places of Tibetan thugs.

    For him, Lhasa government was run by a bunch of illiterate bums.

    For him, Tibetan culture is insignificant and trivial, yet fun to be around.
    For him, Tibet,Tibet,Tibet–man! Somehow, I really enjoyed you, see you again and again , my dear .

    About his Demise of Lamaist State:
    Jamyang Norbu said; it is a black book
    Mr.Cathy says, it’s my bible
    I say; it’s too much arrogant.

  44. In the enlightenment of Goldstein and his kind, everything about Tibet is ugly, naive and insignificant, yet fun to mess around.

    For him, Sera, Drepung and Gaden are gathering places of Tibetan thugs.

    For him, Lhasa government was run by a bunch of illiterate bums.

    For him, Tibetan culture is insignificant and trivial, yet fun to be around.

    For him, Tibet,Tibet,Tibet? man! Somehow, I really enjoyed you.

    About his Demise of Lamaist State:
    Jamyang Norbu said; it is a black book
    Mr.Cathy says, it’s my bible
    I say; it’s too much arrogant.

  45. I read Sir Goldstein’s book.
    It was like a movie of old Tibet.
    It’s neither a black book, nor a white book, it’s a book of mixture of five tastes and bled of five colors.

  46. Goldstein is totally biased. I read his book and tried to reason with his train of thpought but there is no end to it. He uses everything thats negative and spins it into something macabre. His latest joint venture with other comrades about the nyemo incident is same. All his sources are supposedly interviewed. You can well expect in the circumstanes what responses they would be willing to offer. The bbritish ruled india for 200 years . They apparently helped or tried to eradicate infanticide, sati thugeeism(is this correct?) Does this justify their rule? In the same way china has and is using the faults in tibetan society to justify their rule. There is nothing more barbaric in a culture priding itself as a great civilization in the name of liberating someone else-letting loose the forces of colonisation and weighing down a people by sheer weight of numbers to totally inundate them (knowingly or unknowingly as his holiness likes to say) with the final solution. Mr. Goldstein -go to hell!!

  47. Hey, I agree with you. They had more social problems in their own country than we had. Typical of them to see spinters in others eyes but not seeing the beams criss crossing they eye balls…

  48. Sir Goldstein’s source when writing the book on Lama govement is real, he met real people and wrote a real book, you people are immensely biased and talking about your feelings and sentiments. I read hSir Goldstein’s book on Lama government of old Tibet 10 times and it reveals me vividly and convincd me totally that old Tibet government is dark, cruel and ugly.

  49. Before studying Goldstein’s work, it is important to know who he is and how he got his information. Goldstein’s work was partly due to the niavety of Tibetan’s credulous nature. Goldstein was son in law of Tibet when he married one of the Kudra ladies. Tibetans usually live on rumors and people often tend to do believe in rumors, so is Goldstein. Since Goldstein was the husband of Surkang. These ignorant yet rumor monger kudras told all their rumors to Goldstein, on Goldstein’s part, he recorded all these rumors and tried to present them as a truth. He also took advantage of time during which knowledge about Tibet remained only in the realm of shangrila imagination in the west. Goldstein remained on loose without be challenged to verify his facts.

    Another important aspect of Goldstein is, he was the only western researcher who got the previllege to access Tibet without any restrictions while other scholars and researchers banned to do independent research. It is interesting that Goldstein got permission from a totalirian government, but not others!

    Goldstein was the sole person who tried hard to shut down TGIE through his staunch argument to US government, thus in his view, Tibetan exiles would remain irrelevant to the development of “Chinese motherland” (No wonder, he turned surkhang into a bitch and dumped her, yet surkhang and her families and relatives are the sole collaborator of Goldstein knowingly or unknowingly).

    When protest broke out across Tibet last year, Goldstein once again stated his intention, he said, “best way to deal with Tibet is to bypass Tibetan Government in exile, Dalai Lama and exile community”. It is so obvious, but still certain Tibetans are working with Goldstein in the form of certain project on Tibet while Goldstein’s demonic intention is still running loose and at times appears in public here and there. The good news is, today Goldstein and like-minded running dog propagandists do not have a free hand to write on Tibet because Tibetans not just migrated to the west, but also equally intellectually competent. Still, we need to keep an eye on Goldstein although his death surely approaches sooner than later.

  50. goldstein–ex-husband of surkhang? which surkhang lady? yangchenla-the ex-wife of tigyala?

    yangtsokyi..people like goldstein are very intellectual. they wont call you names or curse you or anything of that sort.

    they would look very humble/reasonable here and there but he will fork you …in a very subtle way that you wouldn’t realize until your behinds are thoroughly messed up and its time for you to go to a bathroom for a good soap wash! wipe it dry!
    but by then goldstein or shitstain is gone!
    he is paid around usd500,000 a year for his work by the ccp.

  51. Yangtso Ki first wrote:

    “It’s neither a black book, nor a white book, it’s a book of mixture of five tastes and bled of five colors”

    then followed up with:

    “I read hSir Goldstein’s book on Lama government of old Tibet 10 times and it reveals me vividly and convincd me totally that old Tibet government is dark, cruel and ugly.”

    Doesn’t sound like it had five tastes and five colours at all but a sleazy book for Chinese Ultra-nationalists to wallow in. If instead of reading Goldstein 10 times over, Yangtso Ki read some other books about Tibet -especially books by Tibetans and especially books about what is happening in Tibet right now – s/he might decide that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is darker and uglier than anything that has ever happended in Tibet before.

  52. Garuda, we need to some rearch on these traitors and expose them in public forum. They live in Ohio if not moved away after the grand divorce. There are few Tibetans in Ohio including some Lhasan folks, they should have the information. If we cannot separate wolves from sheeps even if we are aware of them, then we are doomed fail! Now it is time to pay for the wrongs. There are some other bitches of so called academicians, but so far I did not see anything damage was done to Tibet. If don’t believe, check virginia university and ask the few tib folks living there!

  53. there is a tibetan phd bitch(some dolma tsang?) in germany….going and writing “tibetans in tibet want only “middle way”…”genuine autonomy”…”meaningful autonomy”…”autonomy”…”minimal autonomy”..”chinese autonomy”…blah..blah…
    this kind of distortion of ordinary tibetan’s political dreams and wishes that is rightfully ours is a crime that must be fitted with punishment. this middle way and independence clashes will go on until those few insensitive slaves in power start respecting the majority’s desire to struggle for independence and sovereignty of tibet for happiness, peace and dignity of tibetans as a people, culture and nation.

  54. Tibet and threw out all the ugliness in light.
    If you still don’t see things in the brightness, that’s your problem. If you were saying; you don’t want to see things as they are, that’s also your problem.
    However, don’t always be carried away by sentiments and rumors, do some research and find your own tastes.

  55. Each society has two sides, a dark side and a light side. Old Tibetan society has more darker sides than light sides. Sir Golstein is a pioneer who went inside the deep dome of old Tibet and threw out all the ugliness in light.
    If you still don’t see things in the brightness, that’s your problem. If you were saying; you don’t want to see things as they are, that’s also your problem.
    However, don’t always be carried away by sentiments and rumors, do some research and find your own tastes.

  56. Yangsto ki
    Are you a chinese parading as a tibetan. Well at least learn to do it properly. Do your homework. No Tibetan and I reiterate -No tibetan would say what you did referring to gaden phodrang as lama government not out of respect or anything but you wouldn,t know -would you? You are too busy reading Sir goldsteins fabrications.Was he knighted by Hu Jin Tao?
    I will give you another piece of advice gratis -You would be more convincing of you changed your name to Yangtso instead of yangsto.Ha !!Ha !! Caught you CCP spy
    Enjoy reading your favourite Knights fairy tales¨¨
    bY the way I take you up on your challenge Goldsteins Book. Just let me load my cartridge-I’ll be firing from the hips!

  57. Dawa,
    By the way I think Songtsen Gampos sister was married to the Shangshung king but he never consumated the marriage and the sister eventually helped her brother to attack Shangshung successfully. Another correction. It seems shangshung existed as a vassal state for at least another century -middle of the 8th century. Also another interesting thing is the sister was supposed to have sent a message to her brother -songtsen gampo in the form of a verse which also says there was no need for her to send a written message.So does this hint at the existence of a script already? Thonmi’s script would have taken some time to have been learnt and spread or the queen might have had a super IQ.

  58. Goldstein might have some truths in his depicture of Tibet, but the way he put things in lines is very disrespectful and way too much arrogant.
    I know a group of young generations in Tibet attempted to translate his book of mountains of arrogances and lies into Tibetan language, if this is the case , we have to prepare refutations in Tibetan as well.

  59. Jigme,
    As a historian student, how do you locate the kingdom of Shang-Shung (The territory of Shang-Shung) in Today’s geographical sphere?

  60. I think shangshung is in western Tibet, namely Ngari Kor sum. I did a study about my family name, although we are at the extreme east of Amdo bordering with China, the same family name is also found in ngari which was also known as shangshung. We are proud descent of warriors of tsenpo era! This is my little research by conversing with family members and reading stuff.

  61. There was a mentioning of SILVER CASTLE OF GARUDA VALLEY as the headquarters of Shang-Shung kingdom in his Searching for Shangri_La by Charles Allen if I was not mistaken, he tells about his trip there in his book of narrations. I thought it was a well written book. I was in vain to retrieve any memories of his descriptions of the valley as I read them long time ago.

  62. About the Shang Shung Kingdom and the existence of their scripts, it is well documented in Chinese history that they established a diplomatic relationship with China in 631 A.D. (Tang Dynasty) just a few years earlier than the first official contact between China and Tibet (634 A.D.), in that year Songtsen Gampo through his envoy (mgar stong btsan yul srung) made a request to marry a Chinese princess. The link attached below is a painting made by a Chinese official Yan Liben (閻立本) to portrait the scene of meeting, the first left is a translator, next to him is mgar stong btsan yul srung. It is hard to believe this important marriage proposal was conveyed only verbally without an official letter from Songtsen Gampo, but if Tibetan script was not ready at the time and the official letter did exist then the letter is likely written in a foreign script most familiar by Tibetan at the time (Shang Shung script).

  63. Yangsto Ki,

    If there’s a ‘sir’ among the authorities on Tibetan history and culture, that man was Sir Charles Alfred Bell, the British representative to Tibet when India was under Britain and Tibet was an independent country. Sir Bell knew about Tibet so extensively, perhaps Mr Goldstein may not know that much about his own Jewish heritage.

    Melvyn Goldstein may have ‘interviewed’ Tibetans in the post-colonized Tibet for his so-called ‘books’, but Sir Charles Bell had lived in Tibet and wined and dined with every Tibetan from the 13th Dalai lama to an ordinary nomad while the history and culture of Tibet unfolded before his naked eyes.

    Read Sir charles Bell’s four voluminous books on every thing about Tibet and Tibetans prior to China’s invasion of Tibet and Mr Goldstein attempt to distort Tibet’s history:-

    1. Portrait of Dalai lama
    2. Tibet – past and present
    3. The Religion of Tibet
    4. The People of Tibet

    And, when you read these books, let me know how much Goldstein knew about Old Tibet and tried to sell his soul for $$ from China by re-writing the history of a harmless country and people, to suit CCP’s ‘explanation’ of invasion of Tibet.

  64. Jigme, Thank you for the information about Songtsen Gompo’s sister. It’s awesome (I mean it in the old fashioned way) that she took such an important role.
    I think you will get some more idea of where shangshung was in the book:

    “Records of Tholing” A Literary and Visual Reconstruction of the ‘Mother’ monastery in Guge by Roberto Vitali. Published by High Asia in 1999.

    By the way, in Lhasa we have a different handle for Sir Goldstein. It’s Mevy la.

  65. this goldstein is a jew! perhaps the death of 6 million jews under the hands of hitler is enough for him? to respect tubetans situation.

  66. NewgenerationTB la

    I was checking out Tibetan language intensive study courses and found Virginia University runs a summer school in Lhasa. Potential applicants were informed that they would be on a tight leash.

    Does the Virginia University Tibetology department play an active role in collaborating with the occupation? It sounds like it has one of those arrangements with the Party that could steadily push it from quietism to active collaboration.

  67. Bilk, Virginia university Tibet Study Program is one of the most expensive programs in the nation. The program itself is built in collaboration with Tibetologists from Tibet. Of course, any kind of educational exchanges between any western universities with Tibet University in Lhasa has the blessing of CCP. However, so far VU is solely concentrated on language. Tashi Rabgey is director of the program, you should ask question to her.

    China’s blatant lies about Tibet’s past that often appear in CCP news channels are written by those Tibetanologist, and occassionaly echoed by these academicians.

    Do more research!

    Bog Gya Lo

  68. Lhagon,
    Unfortunately i am not a history student. So my knowledge is pretty limited . I,m just beginning to make some discoveries that may be general knowdege for others. About the location of Shangshung it seems that most scholars agree that it includes spiti , kinnaur, Zanskar , Ladakh and of course Toe Ngari as its center.Shangshung was said to have 18 kings but I think theres mention of only 2 of them historically.Another interesting thing which might support the theory is that some well read Kinnauris who have read some ancient scripts in the Shangshung language but written in Tibetan (I think) can understand the language fairly well.So is the language of the kinnauris the language of ancient Shangshung?Also note that there were several small kingdoms (all tibetan) existing at the same time at the start of songtsen gampos reign. Shangshung, Kongpo, Dagpo and Tu-Yu-Hun(Azha) who were the forbearers of the kokonor amdos .In fact the kongpo kingdom could be much older because even among tibetans they are the oldest to be inhabiting the plateau. And Songtsen was the first to unite the tibetans in its history much like what Shih Hwang Di did in China a few hundred years back among the warring chinese fiefdoms.Of course songtsen and his descendants seemed to have conquered other areas which were definitely non tibetan like Baltistan,Gilgit, in Pakistan and thats why the baltis speak an arcaich form of tibetan although they are muslims and look like indians or middleeast.They seemed to have controlled for the most part the gansu corridor and managed to keep the turks (divided at the time in to western and eastern turks) under a tight leash-at times controlling the important silk route garrison cities of Khotan Kashgar, Samrkhand and I forgot the fourth one.The Tang empire the greatest Chinese empire ever in history apparently ended up more often than not with a bloody nose when it came to songz and his merry men.Historians also say that had it not been for the tibetan power at this crucial time in history we would have a much more islamised demography in our part of the world .why ? The arabs were at the height of their power and quite simply unstoppable-well almost.So much of the info we get about tibetan history at that time is actually based on chinese tang court records and arab historians and also Dun Huang scrolls.

  69. Dawa
    Thanks for the reading recommendation.
    I almost didnt get the Melvyn joke. I said it out loud 2 times and started laughing .Ha ha. Religion is poison and Yangsto didnt get it so I,ll do the explaining. Mevyn means exalted being(or maybe not) and the la is honorific title like sir.Ha ! ha!ha!

  70. Incidentally there were these two articles in National geographic in the May edition tackling the Shangrila issue and it was also the cover story.One about Shangshung and the other about Gyalthang .JN you seem to be in tune with the times

  71. Just a request. Folks can we not use bad words like ‘bitch’ etc… I understand the frustrations but it somehow just cheapens the arguments, and also I can’t share this blog with my kid.

    thanks. Otherwise keep up the lively discussions.

  72. JIGME,

    “Shangshung, Kongpo, Dagpo and Tu-Yu-Hun(Azha) who were the forbearers of the kokonor amdos”

    One important contributor to Amdo Tibetan stock you forgot to mention is Qiang (羌), a people sandwiched between China and Tibet who occupied a land that mostly overlap with modern day’s Amdo area. They were assimilated into either Tibetan or Chinese in the past one thousand years and with less than 200,000 in China who still claims their ethnicity.

  73. Qiang (羌) is one of the earliest records in Chinese.
    When you look at the character itself, it gives you impression that it is either shepherd or sheep-headed man. So, my understand is that Qiang (羌) was used to refer to all northwestern nomads at the time or Chinese inlanders’ name calling for nomads at the time.
    Recently Tibetan writer Hortsang Jigme came out with 6 volumes on Amdo History. I heard soon they will be available to read on internet as well.
    The gigantic work is a product of a decade’s research and is based on about 500 existing works in Tibetan, Chinese and English. His work must be an eye-opening.

  74. Religion is poison.
    Chiang seems to be the earliest descriptions of the origins of some tibetans according to the chinese but remmber that Tibetans are a very heterogenous race. As diverse as chinese is homogenous.

  75. Another thing is this notion that people have of tibetan language being similar to Chinese. In fact an european pressed me on this and i tried to convince her that the opposite was true. It seems a colleague of hers was a chinese and a student of linguistics and convinced her of the similarities in the languages. They were probably duped by the categorisation sino-tibetan group of languages. The tibeto-burman is a sub group apparently.I said I would like to dicuss this with her friend.I know as every tibetan does that there is as much similarity between hindi and english as there is between chinese and tibetan.Now the linguists and sit on a table and start categorising languages as they like but it does not reveal anything.There is more similarity between french and english than tibetan and chinese.When some chinese and some chinese linguists see this categorisation they are more convinced of this misplaced ^connection.I speak some chinese and its difficult to find even half a dozen similar words.the most similarities are found in the numbers as always.

    one , two , three, four, (english)
    chik, nyi, sum, shi (Tibetan)
    ichi, nyi, sam, shi (Chinese?) NO!! Japanese

    ee, aar, san, ser (Chinese)

    Moral of the story.
    Be wary of linguists.

  76. There are couple of more Jews who have no conscience at all, and if you wave $$$ before their eyes, i guess they will go to the extend to say Holocaust never took place. One among them who featured in “Barefoot experts” is Barry Sautman, some ‘professor’ who’s said to be teaching ‘social science’ in some Hong Kong University.

  77. Barry’s field of study is not economics or developmental economics, yet assumes as one. Often wears the coat of political commentatory. When he is cornered, he barks like mad dog which is suitable for him coz he is a “zou gou ” means”running dog” with little fact in hands. Regarding the fictionalized connection between Tibetan and Chinese Language is a sign of extremely desperate attempt to make a fictionalized political point. Well, I can debate with anyone who claims such. NG

  78. JIGME,

    Of course Tibetan is a heterogeneous group of people, that’s why I said Qiang contribute to Amdo Tibetan stock not to all Tibetans. Qiang people itself is also heterogeneous comprised hundreds of tribes who had been herding sheep raising horses in Amdo grass land since 200 BC, China was buying horses from them since warring state period (战国时代). There is a book written by a Taiwanese historian Wang Min Ke titled “Qiang, between Han and Tibetan” (羌在汉藏之间) first published in Taiwan then the simplified Chinese version came last year, no English version though; he presented evidence of some Qiang tribes assimilated into Tibetan.

    I am always puzzled by the Sino-Tibetan language group categorization but don’t want to make a fool of myself by commenting something I don’t know. Tibetan may have a lot loan words from Mandarin in recent history but hard to imagine how would you have earlier exchange of words because of geographic barriers.

  79. yangtsoki,
    i do agree with you that tibet under lama/kudrak govt was very dark and cruel.
    lamas/kudraks completely subjugated the tibetans esp those in utsang which includes upas, ngaripas, kongpowas, tsangpas, toepas. not one could raise their just voice. every one was crushed.
    to prove the point, the govt in lhasa celebrate the subjugation of tsangpas by forcing a tsangpa(with no safety hooks, just bare hands) every year to slide through a rope 300 feet high above the ground and 1000 feet in length attached to the potala palace.
    often times a tsangpa falls from the high rope and crashes to death on the hard rocks below and the lama/kudrak govt celebrate!
    and all forms of unimmaginable styles of torture.

    however, the sufferings that the tibetans underwent under the old system was just a drop in the ocean of sufferings under the ccp for the last 60 years now.

  80. I agree with not using cuss words, especially aagainst a daughter of a brave minister like Surkhang who is one of the few who did not sell out to the enemy.

  81. Religion is poison.
    I think if theres any connection with the chiang it might be referring to the Gyalrong people in what Tibetans refer to as Amdo. They have a distinct language though related to Tibetan.There were 18 ,kingdoms and they fought a 20 year war with the Manchu army in the late 18th century. They have a slightly different dresscode for the women. Most were staunch bonpos but some were also in Sera Gaden Drepung monasteries.
    There are other people who speak tongue twisting languages like the Tau longke und Gyaltham dialekt.

  82. Did you all see Fareed Zakaria’s GPS interview of HH on CNN. HH was asked about his “hell on earth” remark about what TIbetns in Tibet are facing but he didn’t elaborate on it. I hoped he would use this golden, no dimaond opportunity to let the world know what happened to the Tibetans inside Tibet after the protest last year.
    Heck maybe we are really Chinese.

  83. Yangsto Ki repeatedly used Sir Goldstein. Was he knighted by Beijing secretly or is she just his chamchas.

    Even when tourist are monitored even during their short stay in Tibet, how come Goldstein manages to stay for a long period of time in Tibet for last 2 decades.

  84. Dear all gracious and omni-intellects,

    Would like to quote a small bit of what CCCP has never replied to TGIE. It’s a part of my finding within my document dungeon located in my document basement.

    Time wasted from my life: “2 minutes and 23 secs”

    the quote is dated “December 17th 1987, from the Kashag, TGIE”

    “Again, as always, you state “the objective of separatism is the revival of feudalism.” Leaving aside the status of China-Tibet relations, the actual situation in Tibet before 1949 has been presented by the Chinese in an extremely exaggerated form. For example, as the basis of the argument for liberating Tibet, you have described pre-revolutionary Tibet as “extremely backward,” “extremely dark,” “extremely cruel,” and “extremely barbarian,” even to the point of considering Tibet’s old society hopeless.

    Recently the adjective “extremely” was omitted and “dark,” “oppressive” and “barbaric” were mentioned. [49] These days you are talking about how Tibetan culture has served the motherland.”

  85. Dear Jigme La,

    In blowing so much of Amdo legends related to Gesar or Cesar (as the Greeks says), have you forgotten the “Xi-Xia” the “Tanguts”? please tell us (me) some more?

    thank you,

    Jampa Choephell

  86. It just goes to show how untrustworthy the Chinese are. His Holiness in his attempt to find a pragmatic solution has just about done everything short of saying that Tibet was ,is and always will be a part of China.Where has it landed us? I guess HH has to look four dimensionally and poor folk like us capable of two dimensions only.Anyways the old age adage-that the tibetans live on hope and that chinese are always suspicious still holds true. All you chinese people visiting this blog know that the ONLY i repeat ONLY reason Tibet is a part of China is because You guys hold a big gun to our heads. I think i could accept a Chinese saying they are gonna colonise Tibet and subjugate it. What i cant stand is this serf liberation bullshit and hypocrisy. China should liberate its bonded labourers we see every once in a while.India a democracy still has bonded labour in certain parts of the country. Is the CCP gonna liberate them. The funny thing is that the CCP has the most crooked group of friends: The most democratic Junta of Burma, The personal fiefdom of Kim il jong, the murderous sudanese regime, Robert Mugabe(This guy never gives up does he-even if Inflation hit 1 million percent). It surely says something about the CCP?

  87. Lu Zhawa

    That photograph is of a Chinese agent provocateur dressed up as a Tibetan. Small wonder he can’t dress himself properly.

  88. it does look staged but i dont understand why china-one who is so crazy about putting up a very stable image in the international arena–would go to the extend of staging riots and arsons and the whole nine yard prices–just to make tibetans look violent with a sword or two? they lose more than gain by this.
    if violent image is what they want to give us, then they can easily stage something more horrible than taliban can imagine.
    this way they can gain on two things “victimization” from the west and “national pride” from the 1.4 billion chinks.
    i just dont get it.

  89. So far, I read over 50 books on Tibetan history in Enlish, none even is closer to Sir Goldstein’s book on lama government in authenticity and depth of research.
    millions of copies of his are sold out in China, both Chinese and Tibetans of young generation love them, I don’t understand why Tibetan exiles try to shun their past.
    No matter how much you try to escape, still all are yours.
    Im still waiting for you to disprove Sir Goldstein’s extensive research on lama government in your own findings , line by line, point by poin.

  90. ki ki, could you stop referring to Goldstein as sir. It’s a title conferred on British subjects for notable achievements.

    This sychophantic word pawing over goldstein is beginning to get nauseating. If you get your nose too brown people may mistake you for a grizzly and may land you in the Alaska governor’s living room.

  91. Jigme,

    You are correct in your assertion of “beware of linguists.”

    Comparative linguistics is not really much ado about anything but people getting off on supposed connections. I have gone through much of their work, from Sapir and Whorf, on up to present day enthusiasts and much of their conclusions are simply assumptions without any evidence to back up their notions.

    if anyone wants proof, give me two languages, and give me word lists or glossaries or dictionaries from both. and i can construct tree charts to show you how they must be related and how many words are similar.

    i could make Irish and Chinese look related if i had the time to.

    the point: comparative linguistics is just as bad as general semantics (which is another crock field that i could go on about)


    You really believe that? Or are you lying to make a point?

    Goldstein’s work is racist. Funny how Chinese nationalists will use White racist works to prop up their ideas about “old” Tibet, and yet turn around and reject White racist works on pre-communist China. Can we say “selective bias”?


    You wrote:


    So far, I read over 50 books on Tibetan history in Enlish, none even is closer to Sir Goldstein’s book on lama government in authenticity and depth of research.
    millions of copies of his are sold out in China, both Chinese and Tibetans of young generation love them, I don’t understand why Tibetan exiles try to shun their past.
    No matter how much you try to escape, still all are yours.
    Im still waiting for you to disprove Sir Goldstein’s extensive research on lama government in your own findings , line by line, point by poin.


    this is disingenuous of you to even write this. are you new to the internet? do you not do searches on websites and blogs you visit? don’t give me any BS about not having time. If you have time to post and front yourself, you have time to check out the articles and blog postings. So get to it, young shoneen.

    Oh….I will make it easier on you, because you are a noob.


    Now, read up.

    As to your insistence that someone do a line by line refutation, you know that is simply being ninny brained. How about you refute Hitler’s Mein Kampf line by line and prove that Chinese are not inferior to the white Aryans? Do you catch my drift now?

  94. Since the publication of Sir Goldstein’s book on lama government, readers in and abroad acclaimed its scholarly beauty and literary handsomeness. … It’s a historical digging of a century long buried rotten society of Tibet hidden at inner most of Himalayas.
    Sir’s book was like a roar of thousand thunderbolts shaking entire universe of Tibetan Diaspora then and now. Some acclaimed, some wailed.
    The author of so called ‘black annals’ took two decade’s refuge in Sir’s captivate work, Suddenly.. last year.. he was revealed a necessary rebellion , what a story!

  95. Yangsto Ki:

    You must have read the book written by MAO, uncle Chow En Lai, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, N Ram of Hindu Newspaper, CCP, Michael Parenti, Prachanda etc …..

    I can list more than hundred liars who are diehard communist or their supporter.

    You should know official Chinese Policy.

    See No Truth
    Hear No Truth
    Speak No Truth

    The use of word Sir is affront to Queen as she has the only right to knight a person as Sir however imperialistic it may sound.

  96. Christophe had exposed the stupidity of imposter yangtso….useless idotic detractors either be banned or ridicled to their bones!

  97. I said ‘REBELLION”, I’m talking about his president election “campaign”.
    Was it two decade’s after he felt it strongly?I don’t think he is that slow.
    was it the year of prophey by guru rinpoche?

    got my point, dude?

  98. Yangsto Ki,

    Why do you sound more like a monk who has failed in Ngondro exam and then hung out with some Inji women for the past few years than a China loving Tibetan girl from eastern Tibet that you seem to want us to believe?

  99. it is a waste of your precious time, people, Yangtso is a imposter. Their main aim is to waste people’s time and detract from the main point. I have been noticing that a lot lately. I guess the Olympic protest must have worked a lot better than I thought. LOL

  100. Yangtso, It might be a sign of weakness in certain cases, everyone here knew, you does not have much to share or contend in an intellectual way. I think your gibberish is just waste of bandwidth! Get away with your pseudo-scientific and pseudo-religous pretense.

  101. Yangsto Ki,

    I gave you a list of books on Tibet and Tibetans by the real SIR to read before you flap your sinicized tongue. But you keep coming back to prop up your phony ‘sir’ and his lies tailored to suit CCP’s demonisation of Tibetan race without reading them.

    Seriously, when will Chinese (their supporters too?) stop their nauseating behavior of refusing to acknowledge the truth???

  102. I had not read the article that post # 115 by christophe links to before yesterday. If any of you haven’t read it already I suggest you do it. I can’t understand why JN is not a contributor to the prominent paper’s or magazine’s on the subject of Tibet. He writes better than most of the prominent contributers. I don’t mean just the subject. His writing is superior to those of most journalist whose works get printed in all the well known papers.

    I think we will have a concensus on who the Etruscan crown bearing slave should be. Might I suggest she put on Cleopatra’s hanger-on’s robes and carry a whip in the other hand. Just incase Sir’s head swell too much to hear her whisphers.

  103. Hugh
    You couldn,t have put it better!

    Yangsto kyi
    The Bloggers here dont have a goldstein bible under their pillows like you do. So be patient. Maybe thousands and millions of Chinese are gloating over these fabrications but Tibetans? Please spare us the crap! Most chinese bloggers dont know a single Tibetan.
    Their version of history is what they are taught in the class(communist of course).
    By the way read Mao by Jung Chang. There are some mighty big revelations there -that the so-called liberation was an excuse for Mao to create land space for chinese immgrants. He was said to have perferred a much bigger uprising so that he could wipe as many people as possible. The so-called friendship and wooing of the young Dalai lama was all a ploy so that he could prepare the roads for the army .
    Then we,ll get back to your sir goldstein.

  104. By the way yansto

    I read 50 books on Tibet. And guess what ? All 49 were wrong. Except for a guy knighted by the CCP!!I guess i’ll have to believe him then.

  105. Jampa chomphel la,

    I missed your post. Sorry!
    Xixia it seems was a kingdom formed after the fall of the the great Tibetan Empire and came in part into being because of the strong political legacy of the Yarlung Kings. However geographically it was located on Ningshia Gansu and Shaanxi so that makes it more in the present chinese provinces. The rulers were called Tanguts by others like the mongols. The real origins are a subject of discusion. They could also have been the related to the so-called chiang who moved in to the Amdo area and become Tibetanised. What we do know is that they had produced a separate script, adopted certain chinese customs and the kingdom was relatively prosperous. It was peopled by all sorts of groups of people like turks, jurchen chinese etc. (Some mongols and turks do not distinguish between tanguts and amdowas. ) . The Tangut state religion was I guess Karma Kagyu because the rulers were said to have favoured the Karmapa. Dhusum Khyenpa is said to have visited.It was said to have a population of 5 million and was the first target of Chengis Khan. After having defeated Xixia , Chengiz turned his attention to other kingdoms like the Chin and later on the rest of central asia and The Tangut king became a vassal. However because of his refusal later on to supply troops during the Khans campaign in west asia the Khan ordered on his return the extermination of the Xixia although he was on his deathbed. So ended the kingdom of the Tanguts(1038-1227AD)

  106. Hi Pala!Im Namkha,Jamyang’s daughter.I hope I don’t get in trouble…I hope to help free Tibet in the future…

  107. …and how about this imperialistic whitewash from Robert Barnett from his shameless pro-Chinese article, stuntedly titled ‘Telling the Truth (sic) About Tibet’

    “Tibet can indeed be said to have benefited hugely in the last 15 years as a result of Chinese governmental policies. The economy is booming, the capital expands at the rate of several suburbs each year, hi-tech stores line the main streets offering computers and solar-powered heating, and there are new town houses by ornamental lakes in walled communities. I see more newly constructed hypermarkets in Lhasa when I go to work there each summer than exist in the area of Manhattan where I live.”

    To think that Tibetans considered this man a true friend of their cause. If you can tolerate any more of Barnett’s comments visit:

  108. You don’t have to be an expert to see progeresive developments in Tibet. Any one with proper eyes can see them just walking in streets of Today’s Lhasa and other places in Tibet, you needn’t to feel sorry for removing sick dogs, deformed beggars and smelling nomads from the old streets of Lhasa and put forth a new settings of high tech in lap of new Tibet.

  109. A paradise courtesy of the same occupying regime which forces sterilisations upon Buddhist Tibetan and Moslem Uyghur women. Progress at the end of a gun!

  110. One imagines a similar facism was imposed upon the Han Chinese when they were the subservient people of the occupying Manchu.

  111. Yangsto Ki,

    let me invade your house, keep your mom, sister and your daughter hostage, sexually exploit them but throw you out. I keep them firmly under my grip against telling anyone of wht i did, and to lull them by giving them good cloths and food. As i live in the house now, i whitewash it and repair it whenever needed.

    One fine morning as I’m watering flowers (i recently planted), i see you outside the house demanding that i vacate the house and free your family members. You tell neighbors I illegally invaded your house and kept your family hostage. I come out and say to you with no trace of shame on my face to shut up and stop telling lies to neighbors. I tell everyone that I remodelled the house, uplifted the living condition of your family and feed them good foods and good cloths. I say they all belong to me now. I tell the neighbors not to listen to your lies and ask ’em to go back to thier houses. Before i go in and slam door on you, i turn around and give you a warning that if i ever saw you again protesting I’m gonna kick your asss and have cops arrest you for trespassing ‘my property’.

    What are you going to do, will you suck it up and disappear? Or will you arm up and fight the injustice I’m perpetrating against you and your family?

  112. There’s a decomposing yak in the lounge, the stench, flies buzzing away, and meanwhile a pest-control guy telling you the problem is a blocked drain. You are stunned that he is observant to the point of blindness, and so unaware as to be oblivious to the mound of fur, bones and horns right there on the carpet. But sure as eggs-are-eggs this guy is casting his eyes around the room and every time they appear to alight upon the beast, his attention darts elsewhere to seek a solution to that sickening smell. All your efforts to alert him to the source of the odour seemingly hopeless, clearly he is refusing to concede the gut-wrenching truth. Perhaps he has a phobia of yaks and is demonstrating the classic signs of denial, his emotional condition unable to accept the reality before his eyes.

    Whenever faced with the facts of its brutal occupation in Tibet and East Turkestan the communist regime of China experiences a similar psychosis. The harrowing truth of the abuses, oppression and denial of political and civil rights it has forced upon Tibetan and Uyghurs cannot be admitted. Like any psychopath it projects responsibility elsewhere, indulging in denial and evasion, any course of action that will conceal the truth. Take the laughingly claimed ‘independent report’ set-in-motion with the sanction of the communist Chinese authorities, into the uprisings in Tibet since March 2008 conducted and recently published by the deliberately named ‘Open [sic] Constitution Initiative’, a supposedly non-governmental organisation “run by prominent lawyers and intellectuals in Beijing”.

    Let’s get one thing right here. There are no truly independent non-governmental organizations in communist China. Every facet of research, education, journalism, law and all other social and civil institutions and agencies exist only with the authority and supervision of the state. No dissent from the official line is tolerated and such bodies serve whatever propaganda purpose tasked to them by their overlords.

    The report is a clever piece of artifice that seeks to claim that the unrest, demonstrations across Tibet were born, not from a heartfelt desire for nationhood, but as a reaction to supposed corruption and economic disparities between Han Chinese and Tibetans. It asserts that last year’s Tibetan uprisings, which it judiciously describes as riots, (a favoured term used by the communist Regime, so much for an independent perspective then) were a result of decades of inefficient and corrupted economic and development policies. Interestingly, similar conclusions were peddled by both Robert Barnett and Tsering Shakya, who rather like the communist Chinese government, appeared reluctant to acknowledge the genuine objectives and reasons of the protests.

    Of course it is careful not to make the communist Chinese regime accountable for such a situation by claiming that Tibetans were marginalised and resentful, of what it is claimed as the emergence and corrupt practices of a supposedly “new aristocracy”. Now here’s the sting, who are these seemingly venal officials? Why there Tibetans of course, a new version of those nasty aristocrats that communist China swept away following its illegal invasion in 1950. In a further application of official gloss it refers to what it suggests are “rivers-of-money” invested in Tibet with the aim of securing stability. A failed policy, apparently due to the corrupt nature of the local political elite, who the report incredibly claims misrepresented, what we are told was simply ‘community discontent’ (what an application of generalising anaesthetic that is) as being “separatism”.

    “They use every opportunity to play the separatism card…And they will try hard to apportion responsibility on ‘overseas hostile forces’ because this is the way to consolidate their interests and status and eventually bring them more power and resources.” (Phun Tshogs Dbang Rjyal-quoted in the report).

    While there are indeed a range of severe economic disadvantages endured by Tibetans, which would naturally be generate resentment and frustration, these are the direct result of policies, economic, legal, and social, formulated, approved and ordered by the national communist government of China. Though local corruption may well contribute towards the various deprivations suffered by Tibetans, there can be no mistake that the tragedy of Tibet was authored by China’s blood-stained communist leadership. The slave labor, unfair trials, systematic torture, forced settlement of nomads, and campaigns of mass-sterilisations are engineered and endorsed by the State. To disguise the causal reasons why Tibetans rose-up in defiance of Chinese occupation, as being based upon a sense of economic grievance is a vicious perversion of the facts.

    The demonstrations which burned across Tibet throughout 2008 and into 2009 featured a common demand, Tibetan independence. In association with supportive calls for the Dalai Lama, the protests essentially spoke with one voice, freedom for Tibet. No flag championing greater employment opportunities, no slogans shouting for less corruption in local government, no banners were raised calling for an increase in economic parity between Han colonizers and Tibetans.

    Yet this report, with its cosmetic nod towards objective and independent analysis, would have the world believe such frustrations were the heartbeat of the unrest. With imperialistic arrogance its findings (and the phrase is applied loosely) imply that the otherwise obedient ‘natives’ will be satisfied with an improved economic condition. Such strategy has an ancient pedigree. It was Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu who counselled that the best way to keep a people simple and rustic was to “fill their bellies and empty their minds” How communist China would appreciate a docile population of Tibetans, spaced-out on the tacky excesses of Chinese occupation.

    Yet the uprisings for Tibetan freedom which began in March 2008, and still resonate today, demonstrated a unified desire for national freedom and an inspiring display of courage to oppose the oppression and illegal occupation of Tibet. Such convictions are forged from a profound sense of injustice, the loss of culture, a visceral sense of land and nation that cannot be diluted or distracted by the ephemera of economic circumstances, particularly when handed-out like sweets by those guilty of the oppression.

  113. Chinese bastards are taught a good lesson by Khans of Mongolians, Emperors of Manchus, ultimately needed to be liberated by British Opiums and Japanese Liberation armies had to debunk uncivilized CHinese culture, it took for to waste their bullets on Chinese war lords who were instigated by the debunked western communist imperialists. Oh yea, Eight United Countries or ba guo lian jun had to improve Chinese civilization through another compassioante military lesson! dang….cutting of Chinese melon!!!


  114. YANGSTO KI,

    You wrote:

    We practise force when it’s necessary, and progress can’t be a choice for these people.=========

    This summarizes imperialism and colonialism in a nutshell.

    You said it all there. You attitude is exposed for what it is: hatred

    Hatred for the “other.” Hatred for any people who are not like your own. And forcing any group of people that your nation controls to either assimilate (become like your people) or die.

    Colonialism masks its murder and slavery by claiming “progress” is being brought to the conquered people. You can try to keep up your denial and I would only expect you to do so, coming from a child of Qin Shi Huangdi, or a child of Caesar. (Doesn’t matter to me whether you would be Chinese-enthralled or Roman-enthralled. You would sing the same song, no matter.)

    The Romans claim to have brought the light to barbarian people, all the while killing hundreds of thousands and selling the survivors into slavery. There was also a claim to progress, and many European nations are still enthralled by the lies, even as archaeology now shows that though the Romans were impressive in their achievements, they built these upon the knowledge and achievements of those they had conquered.

    One thing about the long gone Romans, however, is that as imperialistic as they were, murdering and conquering, they weren’t racist about it. If a nation didn’t resist Rome, their people would be left alive to trade and carry on. (Little consolation to their victims, to be sure.) Unlike both ancient and modern China, which has displayed a very pronounced racism, even to the point of genocide on several occasions, even towards nations that had no fight with the middle kingdom. (In this light, the Tang dynasty, was an aberration, since it was cosmopolitan and almost became a truly multicultural nation-state.)

    Later European empires were very racist, as you very well know. China itself has been marked with its very virulent xenophobia and racism, and this cannot any longer be blamed on the Qing/Manchu dynasty, nor Japan, nor the Europeans, nor any “interference” from “outside” enemies.

    The People’s Republic claimed to be beyond that, but did the PRC stop the genocide of the Manchurians or the inner Mongolians? What about the Korean lands that the PRC took over and are now considered Chinese land? Did the supposed internationalist communists in the party stop their gov’t from sending the PLA into Tibet – to finally conquer what China could not up to then? Racists and imperialists are still what they are, no matter that they hid behind a red flag, or that they now hide behind modern technology and flashy market-based economies.

  115. Hugh,

    I agree with everything you said about the mentality of imperialism and colonialism, put myself in the shoes of the oppressed the conquered people I can not defend the actions imposed by the conqueror in the past or present, Roman or Chinese, no matter it is Chinese control in Tibet or British in Ireland or American’s westward expansion or Russian’s control of their near abroad are all the same. All cultures have elements of kindness, justice, equality but seem unable to apply them across the ethnicity, cultural boundary to other people. The sense of “otherness” and the urge to convert to assimilate other people almost like ingrained in DNA, the world is extremely Darwinian and I am pessimistic it will be like this forever.

    One minor correction about the Korean land you mentioned, my understanding is the current Chinese/Korean border was established in the early 7th century and was not changed since then.

  116. Religion is Poison,

    I was under the understanding that vast areas north of present day “North” Korea, were still Korean in ethnicity until recently. The PRC cannot be blamed wholesale for what happened there, much like what happened to Manchuria. Those processes were started and encouraged by the Qing/Manchu imperial government itself, as far as I know. But the PRC can be blamed for not stopping it, seeing as they claimed the be communists and communists were at one time supposed to be above the nationalism game.

    I think it sad that humans continue to practice what scientists call “pseudo-speciation,” which basically means we continue to think of “other human groupings” as non-human or subhuman. This may have been an adaptive advantage when we were all hunter gatherers and out-groups couldn’t be trusted like in-groups or kin groups. But as the agricultural revolution transformed our species, this sort of thinking became stripped of any evolutionary need for self preservation, and is now merely the tired and dangerously malicious thoughts of those who haven’t accepted that the human world has changed from our ancestral times.

    A word in English demonstrates the new human cultural paradigm which arose after the agricultural revolution in societies across the globe: “kind”

    Being kind meant originally to treat “others” as your kin. I believe wise people throughout human cultures sought to change or tame the earlier thinking and replace it with something better. We have yet to do so.

  117. Hugh,

    One of the Korean ancestral predecessors did originate from the area of modern day’s northeast China (Liaoning and Jilin) and northwest corner of Korean peninsular, their border with China and other non-Han nomads were constantly changes as a result of rise and fall of dominant powers. The current border with China (narrowly defined here as Han Chinese) was established in the 7th century, the border was later invaded by Khitan, Mongolian when Han Chinese lose control of that area, the border was reestablished in the 14th century and last until today. Han Chinese immigration to Northeast was banned by Manchurian in early Qing Dynasty until they realize they need people to populate the area to counter Russian incursion, ironically Manchurian sealed their own fate when they OK the migration of Han Chinese, there are now only a few dozen fluent Manchurian language speakers all in their 80s and the spoken language will disappear before the end of next decade. Two million ethnic Koreans (Chinese citizen) still live there mostly in Jilin, an area sometimes described as the third Korea, unlike Manchurian language Korean is still a language widely used by ethnic Korean today.

    I am not so optimistic about stop practicing “pseudo-speciation” by human being, Europeans maybe the most conscious about saving minority’s culture and language but the overall trend of losing language and culture worldwide will continue along with the pace of globalization. As sad as it may sounds I think the day when people will treat “others” as your kin is the day when we are either “blood brothers” (through inter-racial inter-ethnic marriage) or “sworn brothers” (religious or cultural assimilation).

  118. Stumbled on your posting by way of Twitter,of all things.I always thought that Shangrila was in the heart of Tibet.Was shocked when a friend of mine said he and family were returning to China again this year.I asked where and he said to Yunnan, flying into Kunming and then on to Shangrila. I was shocked to say the least since I know it by the proper names.Seems like some sort of Sino-Disney version of Tibet,The powers that be will not be happy until everyone speaks Mandarin and Han Chinese is the only way to be. Sort of a 1984 kind of thing. My friends purpose is to bring in Bibles and tracts and proselityze.Following the blog “In the Footsteps of Joseph Rock” I see that this is a rather Christian area.The Chinese seem to be hell bent on rewriting their version of history;but as far as the average American is concerned Shangri-la is in the heart of Tibet and Mickey and Minnie live at Disney World.

  119. Some may consider imposing ‘mickey mouse’, chinese marxism or christian myths upon the Tibetan people as constituting imperialistic aggression.

  120. To understand the true political history of Tibet, I urge everyone to read the eminent Tibetan historian Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa’s two-volume, hard cover book, titled ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND MOONS – AN ADVANCED POLITICAL HISTORY OF TIBET, to be released by BRILL Publications in September 2009.

    To view and pre-order the book, click on the Publisher’s link below:

  121. The proper name of the ancient western Tibetan principality in question is Xhangxhung, and not Shangshung. This we know from the story of Thumi Sambhota coming up with the 21st letter of the Tibetan alphabet, Xha. “where do you come from?” “I come from Xhangxhung”, so the story goes and the letter ‘Xha’ was added to the alphabet.Modern Tibetan transliteration practice render this letter as Zha, but I think Xha is closer to the sound. Sha is the 27th letter and does not figure when writing this name in Tibetan.
    Yang S. Toki
    You are no Yangtso Kyid!(Happy melodious Ocean)

  122. Newgeneration B,

    Before you decide to say anything, try to get your facts right. To set your record straight, Surkhang daughter was never married to Goldstein, she was married to Trigyel Lakartsang. She and family do not live in Ohio. Incidentally, watch your language or you are a disgrace to your GENERATION!

  123. It’s really good blog. I know more information about Tibetan. You are providing their meaning its really good. All are member. Thanks for all member, who are giving most useful information.

  124. I enjoyed the article especially the first part dealing with James Hilton and the location of Shangri-La. He is unquestionably right about that lamisary being located, at least in the book and in Hilton’s mind, in Tibet. As he has shown, there are numerous references in the book to Tibet.

    But I suspect that there was no specific location and it was a literary invention of Hilton’s. That is why he himself is so vague as to location. And it adds to the mystery, doesn’t it?

    And as regards the second part of this essay, that too can be explained by the text of the book: [The storm] will rage till every flower of culture is trampled”… Perhaps what the author of this fine article is attesting to in the second part of his article is little more than what Hilton had foreseen. Or in Hilton’s words, “all the loveliest things were transient and perishable”

    Often, prescient authors like Hilton (and George Orwell is another) have a greater insight into the future happenings of mankind than just about anyone.

    Thanks again for the essay.

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