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The Historical Polity of Repgong

The Basics

Repgong (reb gong)[1] is presently the name of a county (Ch. Tongren) that might be best described as the cultural heart of northern Amdo. The core region of Rebgong is known as the Golden Valley (Gser gzhung), carved out by the Gu River (Dgu chu), which runs north into the Ma River (Rma chu, Yellow River). Although the agricultural landscape in the valley is fairly dry, resembling the Rio Grande in central New Mexico as it passes through the native American Pueblos there, the upper elevations of the surrounding mountains are often more wooded, while the regions to the south, east and west are nomadic grasslands. The region has a long history of strength in higher education, which started with the introduction of the Sakya traditions here in the thirteenth century, and continued with the transformation of the main monastery of Rongwo into a Gelukpa seat of higher learning. The strong Rnying ma lay tradition of the numerous Mani Halls (Ma+ni khang, Sngags khang) also have a long history, as well as more recent (18th c) influences by the Mindroling traditions of Central Tibet. Moreover, several villages of a distinct ethnic population now called Monguors (in Upper and Lower seng ge gshon, Sgo dmar, gnyan thog) have specialized for centuries in a vibrant thanka painting tradition that has been passed down within households to the present day. Its protected location south of the Yellow River--away from the parts of Amdo ravaged by Muslim rebellions in the nineteenth century--allowed the rich traditions to flourish into the second half of the twentieth century. Even during the Cultural Revolution, Rebgong educators were exceptionally successful in managing to continue to teach Tibetan effectively, using Mao's Little Red Book in Tibetan translation. This has meant that many great poets of the past and great writers of the present have come from this region, most notably Shar Skal ldan rgya mtsho (17th c), Zhaps dkar tshogs drug rang grol (19th c), Dge 'dun chos 'phel (20th c) and pad+ma 'bum (20th-21st c). In the past, Repgong (reb gong) was an important polity in Northeastern Tibet (Amdo) dominated by the Rongwotsang (rong bo tshang) family, also referred to as the Rongwo Nangsotsang (rong bo nang so tshang). Its religious leader was the Shartsang (shar tshang) incarnation, while its Political Ruler was referred to as a Nangso (nang so).

Names of Repgong

The name of this place is spelled in a number of ways: reb gong, reb kong and re skong. A saying in the area claims that the Repsa (reb sa) Valley was inhabited earlier than Repgong ("reb gong ma chags reb sa chags") and that the name of Repgong originated from Repsa.  Repsa is now a part of Repgong, and some sources say this place was named rep gong as it is located “above” (Tib. gong) the three Repsa valleys in lower Repgong.  Other sources say this place was named reb kong as inhabitants of this place are believed to be the descendents of Konpo (kong po), in southeast Tibet. Finally, re skong is a name derived from a noun, meaning "fulfilment of wishes."  At present, Tünrin (thun rin, Ch. Tongren, 同仁) is the official name of Repgong County given by the Chinese Communist government and is the capital of Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture (TAP), Qinghai province.

The Early History and The Rise of the Rongwo Nangso

According to local oral historical sources, the Tibetan inhabitants of this region are the descendants of generals and their armies who were sent from central Tibet during the imperial period (approximately between the 7th and 9th century). One of the communities in Repgong (reb gong), called Gartsé (mgar rtse), claims they are descendants of Lönpo Gar (blon po mgar), minister of the king Songtsen Gampo (srong btsan sgam po604-650 CE). After the demise of the Tibetan empire, Repgong was not under a single ruler until the centralized ruling institution called the Rongwo Nangso (rong bo nang so, described in detail below) was established in the early 14th century.

All Tibetan sources agree that the history of the institution of the Rongwo Nangso (rong bo nang so) began with Lharjé Draknapa (lha rje brag sna pa), a disciple of Sakya Drogön Pakpa (sa skya ‘gro mgon ‘phags pa, 1235-1280). Sakya Drogön Pakpa sent Lharjé Draknapa to spread the Dharma and to rule over Repgong. Lharjé Draknapa arrived in Repgong with a retinue of three hundred people around the mid 13th century[2]. He settled in Lönché (blon che), bordering Triga (khri ka) and Chentsa (gcan tsha).  Tibetan sources show that by the time Lharjé Draknapa arrived in the region, Repgong's rule was divided among many local leaders, including Sakhyil Dawaihu (sa khyil da bai hu), who donated a piece of land to one of Lharjé Draknapa's grandsons to found Rongwo (rong bo) monastery in 1342.

Lharjé Draknapa was an accomplished Buddhist master and medical practitioner (lha rje in Tibetan means "doctor"). His medical skills and religious knowledge were highly appreciated by one of the local leaders or makpön (dmag dpon). Thus, one of Lharjé's sons, Rongwo Dodé Bum (rong bo mdo sde ‘bum), married the leader's daughter. Rongwo Dodé Bum rose to power and built a two-storey assembly hall with a religious community of 80 members from both the Ben (ban) and the Nak (sngags) schools (ban sngags brgyad cu) in Lönché (blon che).  Ben refers to Jowoi Luk (jo bo’i lugs, ཇོ་བོའི་ལུགས), the Kadam (bka gdams) school, also known as Atisha's (a ti sha) school; and Nak refers to the Sakya (sa skya) school.  Dodé Bum had 12 ministers under him so the polity under his control was known as the 12 divisions of Repgong[3] (reb gong shog khag bcu gnyis), covering what is now Repgong County (Ch: Tongren) and Tsekhok (rtse khog) County (Ch. Zeku).  In addition to the 12 inner divisions, another 18 outer divisions were also considered part of Repgong.

In the early 13th century (according to the Tibetan calendar, the mid-5th Rabjung), the Mongol emperor of China sent an invitation to Rongwo Dodé Bum, via Uchiti (u ci thi), king of Hor (hor), to come for an audience.[4] During the audience, Rongwo Dodé Bum was given the title of nangso (nang so).[5] Rongwo Dodé Bum thus became the first Rongwo Nangso and moved his base from Lönchö (blon chos) to Gyetang (gyal thang), now known as Rongwo (rong bo, Ch: Long wu), the capital of both Tongren county and Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture and established his Nangso House (ནང་སོའི་ཁྲིམས་སྒོ་གཞུང་ཁང་ཆེན་མོ) there. It was from this time onwards that Repgong had a centralized ruling institution, i.e. the Rongwo Nangso, that was continued until the Chinese Communist Party’s rule in the area.  At one point in the history of Repgong, the Nangso House was known as Yamön (ya mon, Ch. Ya men) to the locals.[6]

The Rongwo Nangso family was successful in expanding and legitimizing its ruling power in the area by using its connections with both the Tibetan and Chinese governments. We can see this through the official positions and titles conferred on members of the family by both the Lhasa (lha sa) government and by various Chinese emperors.

Rongwo Dodé Bum had nine sons. His third son, Lodrö Senggé (blo gros seng ge), became one of the religious advisors/teachers of the Shundi emperor (Toghan-Temür, r. 1333-1370) of the late Yuan dynasty.  In 1333, the emperor elevated him to the position of guo shi, ‘Dynastic Preceptor’ (弘修妙悟国师).[7] Lodrö Senggé expanded the territory of Repgong by establishing two other nangso: Marnang Nangso (mar nang nang so) in lower Repgong, and Dobi Nangso (rdo sbis nang so), located in present day Xunhua Salar Autonomous County.

In 1342, the family founded Rongwo Dechen Chökhorling (rong bo bde chen chos ‘khor gling), the main monastery in Repgong, next to the nangso house.  Rongwo Samten Rinchen (rong bo bsam gtan rin chen), the eldest son of Dodé Bum, became head of the monastery.  Rongwo Samten Rinchen was a disciple of Chöjé Döndrup Rinchen (chos rje don grub rin chen)[8] (1290-1364), Tsongkhapa's (tsong kha pa) teacher.  Tibetan historical sources record the existence of numerous small monasteries in Repgong before Rongwo monastery was established.  Chöjé Döndrup Rinchen built a few village temples in Repgong during this period.[9]

Under Lodrö Senggé’s rule, the Rongwo Nangso (rong bo nang so) family boosted the monk population of Rongwo (rong bo) Monastery, during this period a Sakya (sa skya) monastery, by ordering that all households with three sons must provide one boy to become a monk.[10] The family carried out population and housing censuses in all parts of Repgong and collected tax and regulated both monastic and lay communities with new rules.  It is recorded that Rongwo Samten Rinchen established 18 other Sakya monasteries in Repgong, including Dobi Dratsang (rdo sbi grwa tshang), where Dobi Geshé Sherap Gyatso (rdo sbi dge bshes shes rab rgya mtsho) was to study at end of the 19th century.[11]

At the same time Konchok Gyeltsen (dkon mchog rgyal mtshan), nephew of Dodé Bum, went to Lhasa and was awarded the title ‘Nangso Guru’ (nang so gu ru) by the Lhasa government.  In the second year of the reign of Emperor Shundi (Toghan-Temür, r. 1333-1370), he went to China and was given the titles Beile (Tib, be lu nang so) and Da guoshi by the emperor.[12] 

Konchok Gyeltsen’s son Dondrup Rinchen (don grub rin chen) went to China twice to receive titles. Dondrup Rinchen’s son Lodrö (blo gros) had seven sons the eldest of whom, Lodrö Chokdrup (blo gros mchog grub), went to China and received from the emperor the title of Da guoshi. He also received a title from Sakya. Lodrö ’s fourth son, Lodrö Döndrup (blo gros don grub)also received the nangso title and went to China four times. He became a general for the emperor and recruited Tibetan soldiers for the southern area of China. Because of this deed, he was given the title of Da guoshi and the sixth rank of general in the army. Lodrö Döndrup’s son Lodrö Penden (blo gros dpal ldan) went to China twice and was given the title of ‘commander guardian of the southern area’ (Tib. lho phyogs srung mkhan gyi dmag dpon). He was also reaffirmed in his previous title of Ta shi (Ch. Da [guo] shi), and was given the title and office of 'chief commander of the southern area' (Tib. lho phyogs kyi mnga’ bdag bka’ babs kyi gtso’ bo).[13]

Establishment of the Shartshang Institution and the Geluk School in the 16th and 17th Centuries

The power of the nangso institution diminished in coincidence with the waning power of the Ming dynasty in late 16th century.  In response to this, the Rongwo family attempted to maintain its power in the area through a newly emerging ruling power in Repgong – the Shar Kelden (shar skal ldan) lineage of the Geluk (dge lugs) school.  Establishment of the Shartsang (shar tshang) institution coincided with the rising influence of the Mongols in the area and their interests in the Geluk school.[14]

Tibetan sources show that the Rongwo Nangso family tried to increase its influence among the Mongols by establishing the Geluk school in the Repgong area in the late 16th century.  Rongwo Nangso Penden Guru (rong bo nang so dpal ldan gu ru) sought patronage from the Mongols and established a patron-priest relationship with the Mongol ruler Ta’i chang chu khur.  In 1601 Chöpa Rinpoché (chos pa rin po che, 1581-1659), also from the Rongwo Nangso family, went to central Tibet as part of the entourage of the fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso (yon tan rgya mtsho), from Mongolia.  On his return, Chöpa Rinpoche insisted that his young stepbrother Shar Kelden Gyatso (shar skal ldan rgya mtsho) should become a Geluk monk.[15] This remark from Chöpa Rinpoché indicates that he saw the strategic advantage he could gain from Shar Kelden establishing the Geluk tradition in Repgong for his own rise to power.

In 1618, Chöpa Rinpoché took the 11 year-old Shar Kelden Gyatso to Ganden (dga’ ldan) monastery in central Tibet to study the Geluk tradition.  On his return in 1627, Shar Kelden Gyatso repeatedly declined requests from Chöpa Rinpoché to establish a College of Philosophy (Tib. mtshan nyid grwa tshang) at Rongwo Gönchen (rong bo dgon chen).  Shartsang (shar tshang) was devoted to meditation practice and he was keen on staying in retreat in remote areas.  Under pressure from Chöpa Rinpoché, in 1630 he founded the College of Philosophy and reluctantly became the 1st Tripa (Tib. khri pa, abbot or head lama) of Rongwo Gönchen.[16]  With the founding of this college, the influence of the now Geluk Rongwo Gönchen started to gain firm ground among the conservative Khoshud Mongols under the Mongol chief Erdeni Jinong Tsewang Tenzin (tshe dbangs bstan ‘dzin, d. 1735), who was a descendant of Gushri Khan.

By the late 1660s, Erdeni Jinong invited the 1st Shar Kelden to his mother's funeral and there promised to extend support to Rongwo monastery. In 1670, Erdeni Jinong offered more than a hundred Mongol monks with further gifts for the enthronement ceremony the 3rd abbot of Rongwo monastery.[17]  Erdeni Jinong continued this patron-priest relationship with the 2nd Shartsang.

In 1702, the 6th Dalai Lama conferred the title and seal of Nomönhen on the 2nd Shar, Ganden Achitu Erteni Nomönhen (dga’ ldan a chi thu er te ni no mon han).  By the early 18th century, Erdeni Jinong and his wife Namgyel Drölma (rnam rgyal sgrol ma) invited the 2nd Shartsang to give religious teachings.  In 1732, the 2nd Shartsang established the Rongwo Mönlam Chenmo (rong bo smon lam chen mo, the Great Prayer Festival of Rongwo) and he was awarded the title of Dharma King (Tib. bde chen chos kyi rgyal po).  Erdeni Jinong’s son Mergen Daiching (me rgan da’i ching) showed great respect and paid homage to the 2nd Shartsang and left his son in the Shartsang's service.  In his later life Mergen Daiching offered a shabinar (sha bi nar), that is, a territory with both Mongol and Tibetan residents, to the 2nd Shartsang.[18]

The Shartsang lineage is listed as follows:

  1. Shar Kelden Gyatso (shar skal ldan rgya mtsho) ཤར་སྐལ་ལྡན་རྒྱ་མཚོ (1607-1677)
  2. Nawang Trinlé Gyatso (ngag dbang 'phrin las rgya mtsho) ངག་དབང་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྒྱ་མཚོ (1678-1739)
  3. Gendün Trinlé Rapgyé (dge ‘dun ‘phrin las rab rgyas) དགེ་འདུན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རབ་རྒྱས (1740-1794)
  4. Lopzang Chödrak Gyatso (blo bzang chos sgrags rgya mtsho) བློ་བཟང་ཆོས་གྲགས་རྒྱ་མཚོ (1795-1843)
  5. Lopzang Trinlé Gyatso (blo bzang 'phrin las rgya mtsho) བློ་བཟང་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྒྱ་མཚོ (1844-1858)
  6. Kelden Lopzang Tenpai Gyeltsen (skal ldan blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan) སྐལ་ལྡན་བློ་བཟང་བསྟན་པའི་རྒྱལ་མཚན (1859-1915)
  7. Kelden Trinlé Lungtok Gyatso (skal ldan 'phrin las lung rtogs rgya mtsho) སྐལ་ལྡན་འཕྲིན་ལས་ལུང་རྟོགས་རྒྱ་མཚོ། (1916-1978)
  8. Tenzin Jikmé Kelden (btsan 'dzin 'jigs med skal ldan) བསྟན་འཛིན་འཇིགས་མེད་སྐལ་ལྡན (1979- )

Since the enthronement of the first Shartsang as abbot, Repgong was ruled under a system of joint religious and political rule, through the Shar lineage of Rongwo Gönchen and the nangso institution.  In the beginning, it is clear that the nangso family attempted to have direct control over both institutions.  For example, the second Shar Kelden was recognized within the nangso family and the second abbot of Rongwo monastery was also from nangso family. 

Repgong in the 18th Century

After the death of Nangso Nawang Lopzang (nang so ngag dbang blo bzang), with whom the 2nd Shartsang discussed the establishment of the Rongwo Mönlam Chenmo, it is recorded that his reincarnation was also recognized – the first time that a reincarnation was recognized as an individual nangso.[19] There followed a lengthy power struggle over the nangso position. As a result, the system of nangso was regulated by deciding that the position of nangso should be held in turn among different members of the Repgong Nangso family. The duration of each nangso’s reign was set at between three and five years. The historical records also state that during that time the nangso position was made hereditary and no one other than members of Rongwo Nangso family were entitled to hold the nangso position.[20]  There is no mention of anyone outside the family ever having held the position before this rule was made.  According to Tashi Namgyel (bkra shis rnam rgyal, 1923-1998), the last Rongwo Nangso, the title nangso could only be conferred on a person who used to be a monk within the nangso family.[21] Amdo (a mdo) scholars disagree on the meaning of the term nangso, and Gendün Chömpel (dge ‘dun chos ‘phel) states nangso is a Tibetan official title given to the ministers at the border land.  He claims ministers who kept an eye on foreign enemies were called chiso (Tib. phyi so, "outer watcher") and ministers who watched the domestic enemies were called nangso (Tib. nang so, inner watcher).[22]  Looking at the sources, no woman from the family was ever given this title, and one can also claim that no one outside the family ever held the position before this rule was made. 

However, the Rongwo Nangso family’s power was limited by the growth of Labrang (bla brang) monastery.  The growing power and influence of Labrang is shown in sources, which record the gifting of monasteries from the Rongwo Nangso territories to Labrang. During the time of the 3rd Shartsang, it is recorded that the Lower Repgong Nangso (Tib. reb gong mar nang nang so) offered the Shingleka (shing las ka) monastery (Shingleka Trashi Chödzong, Tib. shing las ka bkra shis chos rdzong) to Jamyang Zhepa (‘jam dbyangs bzhad pa), the head of Labrang monastery. In 1780 this was formally agreed upon at Kumbum (sku ‘bum) by the 3rd Shartsang in the presence of the Panchen Lama Lopzang Penden Yeshé (pan chen bla ma blo bzang dpal ldan ye shes, 1738-1780), who was on his way to China.[23] It is recorded that Dobi Nangso, the third nangso branch of the Rongwo Nangso also offered a monastery in Sechang (bse chang) to Jamyang Zhepa.[24]

In order to increase their political and religious influence, the Rongwo Nangso family tried to find a way to build closer connections with the Chinese emperor and the Tibetan government.  For instance, the succeeding reincarnations of the Shartsang lineage were found within other influential families, including the family of Changkya Rölpai Dorjé (lcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje, 1717-1786), who was one of the most important lamas from Amdo with influence in the Qing court. This family was the source of the fourth through seventh incarnations of the Shartsang lineage.

The 3rd Shartsang, Gendün Trinlé Rapgyé (dge ‘dun ‘phrin las rab rgyas, 1740-1794) was born into the Nyentok (gnyan thog) family in Repgong.[25]  In 1764, Shartsang met Changkya Rölpai Dorjé (lcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje, 1717-1786) in Gönlung (dgon lung) and the following year, he sent two people to Beijing to request an imperial title through Changkya.[26] According to Dorjé (rdo rje, Ch. Duo ji), the nephew of the 7th Shartsang, in 1767 the 3rd Shartsang received the title of Huthukhtu guoshi (呼图克图宏修妙悟国师) with a seal[27] and a Tibetan source claims that the Rongwo Nangso at that time also held the title of Da guoshi.[28] However, a Chinese source states that the title Da guoshi was removed and replaced with the title qianhu (thousand household chieftain) by the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).[29]

In 1787, the 3rd Shartsang went to Central Tibet and met the 8th Dalai Lama. The Tibetan government conferred on him the title and seal of Nomonhan that was given to the previous Shartsang by the 6th Dalai Lama. 

Repgong in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Tibetan sources show that the Rongwo Nangso also tried to boost the family's power through building a direct connection with the Changkya family in Chupzang (chu bzang), in what is now Huzhu County in Haidong prefecture, Qinghai. The 4th Shartsang, Lopzang Chödrak Gyatso (blo bzang chos sgrags rgya mtsho, 1795-1843) was born into the same family that had given birth to Changkya Rolpai Dorjé. Later he entered into a patron-priest relationship with Qinwang Tashi Jungne from Sokdzong (sog rdzong, Ch. Henan).  At the same time, through Chupzang Rinpoché (chu bzang rinpoche), a relative of Changkya Rinpoché (lcang skya rin po che), Rongwo Nangso Penden Döndrup (rong bo nang so dpal ldan don ‘grub) settled his conflict with Labrang to take control over Marnang Nangso (mar nang nang so) and Dobi Nangso (rdo sbis nang so) after his return from participating in the enthronement of the 8th Panchen Rinpoché Tenpai Wangchuk (bstan pa’i dbang phyug, 1855-1882) in central Tibet in 1856.

Despite fixing the reign of each nangso at between three and five years, the next nangso, Tuppa Rapsel (thub pa rab gsal), normally known as Nangso Khanak (nang so kha nag), acted as nangso from 1857 to 1878.  Nangso Khanak went to Beijing to meet the Chinese emperor and took more subjects and territory from Hortsang (hor gtsang) and Tsö (gtsos) in present Kenlho (kan lho, Ch. Gan nan) in Gansu province. In 1878 the Rongwo Nangso family built The Nine-storey Temple of Tsö (Tib. gtsos spen mkhar dgu thog, Ch. Hezou) and consolidated its power in the area.  It is reported that Nangso Khanak received a title and letter from Tibetan government and went to central Tibet to meet the 12th Dalai Lama.

After the 4th Shartsang who was born into the Changkya family, the succeeding reincarnations of Shartsang, except the present, were also from Chupzang Ralotang (chu bzang rwa lo thang), in Huzhu County.  The 6th Shartsang, Kelden Lozang Tenpai Gyeltsen (skal ldan blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1859-1915) continued to expand his influence in Sokdzong (sog rdzong) by giving empowerments.  However, in 1883 a fight broke out between Repgong and the Sokpo Chinwang (sog po chin wang, hereditary prince) and one of the famous nangso of the time was killed in the fighting along with some other influential figures from Repgong.

Around that time, the 6th Shartsang went on a pilgrimage to Wutai shan and Beijing but there is no mention in the sources of him receiving any titles from the emperor.  In 1887 the Shartsang met the 13th Dalai Lama in Lhasa and the Tibetan government conferred on him the title Er ti ni ho thog thu mkhan po, as had been conferred on his previous reincarnations.

During the time of the 7th Shartsang Kelden Trinlé Lungtok Gyatso (skal ldan ’phrin las lung rtogs rgya mtsho, 1915-1976), the Qinghai Muslim generals, notably Ma Qi and Ma Bufang’s political power reached Repgong.  It is well known that Rongwo Nangso, Gyelpo Pönpo (rgyal bo dpon po, the chieftain of the villages of Gyelpo,) and the treasurer of the Shartsang were executed publicly on the same day in Rongwo by Ma’s army.  A Chinese source says that, by 1937, Ma Bufang had complete control over the forestry resources in Repgong and about 100 Repgong people were killed challenging Ma’s control the following year.[30]

Religious Associations

Rongwo Gönchen is the main monastic seat of the Shartsang lineage and has 18 retreat centres and 35 branches throughout Repkong.  During the time of the 7th Shartsang before 1950, Rongwo Gönchen consisted of 31 temples, 43 lama’s residences and 303 monk’s cells.[31] At its peak, there were 2300 monks at the monastery.[32] Although the records show that there were power struggles and conflicts over the nangso position within the family, no Tibetan sources mention any bad relations between the Shartsang institution and the Rongwo Nangso family.  It is recorded that the 2nd Shartsang and nangso of that time received equal shares of the offerings made at the Great Prayer Festival (Tib. smon lam tshogs skal) until Nangso Kharbum Kyap (nang so mkhar ‘bum skyabs) offered some of his share to the 2nd Shartsang.  The connections between the Shar lineage and the Rongwo Nangso family have remained and the present 8th Shartsang’s father is the nephew of the previous Shartsang and his mother is from the nangso family. 

Shar Kelden’s religious leadership was never challenged, although Repgong hosts various other religious communities including the Bönpo (bon po) and the Nyingma (rnying ma) schools.  The reputation of the Nyingma school in Repgong, the Repgong Nangmang (reb gong sngags mang) extended to central Tibet, where one of Repgong’s Nyingma practitioners, Zhapkar Tsokdruk Rangdröl (zhabs dkar tshogs drug rang grol), was known as the second Milarepa (mi la ras pa).

The practice of taking personal names from Gönpo Gur (mgon po gur), the dharma protector of the Sakya school who was brought by Lharjé Draknapa (lha rje brag sna pa) to the region, is still popular among the people of Repgong. Repgong people who are on pilgrimage in central Tibet feel strongly about visiting Sakya because of Repgong’s historical connections with the Sakya lineage.  In 1957 the last nangso Tashi Namgyel (bkra shis rnam rgyal) went to meet Sakya Rinpoché and found a record of Lharjé Draknapa having been sent to Repgong by Dromgön Pakpa (‘gro mgon ‘phags pa).[33] 


Early primary Tibetan historical works for this polity include the lta ba mkha khyab phyogs bral (The History of Rongwo Nangso) by Gyapzai Geshé Chöpa (rgya bza’i dge bshes gcod pa) in 1749; nang so’i lo rgyus kha skong (Appendix to the History of Rongwo Nangso) by Geshé Könchok (dge bshes dkon mchog) around 1927.  The public has no access to these two books but these are frequently cited by Jikmé Tekchok (‘jig med theg mchog) in his rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs (1988) and Lama Tsering (bla ma tshe ring) in his reb gong gi chos srid lo rgyus (2002).  The 1865 deb ther rgya mtsho (Mdo smad chos ‘byung) by Könchok Tenpa Rapgyé (dkon mchog bstan pa rab rgyas) is also a useful source of history on this area.


[1] Written with editorial assistance from Gray Tuttle.

[2] mdo smad chos ‘byung, 1982, pp. 303; rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988, pp. 729. 

[3] rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988: 733

[4] rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988: 732.

[5] Ibid. pp.

[6] rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988: 733.

[7] mdo smad chos ‘byung 1982: 304.

[8] Chönjé Döndrup Rinchen was born to the chief family of Shadrang (sha brang) village in Repgong.

[9] rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988: 93.

[10] Ibid., 1988: 97.

[11] Ibid., 1988: 94.

[12] reb gong gi chos srid byung ba brjod pa 2002: 17.

[13] Ibid., 2002:18.

[14] See the remarks made by the 1st Shartsang in the Gur style of spiritual songs (mgur) in rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988: 174.

[15] mdo smad chos ‘byung 1982: 310.

[16] For details about his reluctance to establish a college of philosophy see rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988: 143-145.

[17] rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988: 178-196.

[18] rong bo dgon chen gyi gdan rabs 1988:762-763. Shabinar is a Mongol word roughly meaning servants.

[19] bla ma tshe ring, reb gong gi chos srid byung ba brjod pa 2002: 34. This would have been in the early 18th century. In 1767, the Qing dynasty recognized the Shartsang incarnation as a guoshi, which marks the Qing state's recognition of joint religious and political rule by the leading Repgong lama. See Pu Wencheng, Gan-Qing Zangquan Fojiao 甘青藏傳佛教寺院, Xining: Qinghai Minzu Chunbanshe, 1990: 431.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Zha xi an jia (Tib. bkra shis rnam rgyal), “忆我解放前后的经历和工作片段” in黄南文史资料 (第二辑) (རྨ་ལྷོའི་རིག་གནས་ལོ་རྒྱུས་ཀྱི་དཔྱད་ཡིག)  pp. 244.

[22] dge ‘dun chos ‘phel gyi gsung rtsom (deb gsum pa) 1994, pp. 219-220. Lasa: Xizang zangwen guji chubanshe.

[23] mdo smad chos ‘byung  1982: 347.

[24] mdo smad chos ‘byung 1982: 353.

[25] Nyentok (gnyan thog) is one of the villages at the lower (northern) end of the Repgong valley.

[26] mdo smad chos ‘byung 1982: 309.

[27] Zhao qing yang (赵清阳) and Duo ji (多吉), “爱国民主人士夏日仓生平” in黄南文史资料 (第二辑) (རྨ་ལྷོའི་རིག་གནས་ལོ་རྒྱུས་ཀྱི་དཔྱད་ཡིག),  pp. 90.

[28] Lama Tsering, "Personal communication."

[29]黄南藏族自治州概, pp. 16.

[30] Deng Jingsheng (邓靖声). “马步芳利用宗教统治各族人民” in 青海文史资料选辑 (第十辑). Xining Shi: Qinghai renmin chubanshe. 1982: 208.

[31] “Rong bo dgon chen” by Rig ‘dzin in klog pa po (Ch. Duzhe Zhiyou), vol. 22, Xining: Qinghai minzu chubanshe. 2005, pp. 38.

[32] Ibid.

[33] rong bo dgon chen gdan rabs 1988: 755.

The Historical Polity of Repgong

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Collection Essays on Places
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Author Sonam Tsering
UID mandala-texts-48361