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An Introduction to Wendu Township


Wendu (bis mdo, "Bindo" in Standard Tibetan Pronunciation) Township is in the eastern part of Qinghai Province. It consists of three valleys intersecting in a common juncture: Shongyül (gshong yul lung pa), Mangyül (mang yul lung pa), and the valley with its lower part called Halung (ha lung lung pa) and upper part called Kyinkhor (dkyil 'khor). The township seat is located at the juncture, and is generally referred to as “Wendu,” although it is close to the village of Rashong, which people treat synonymously with it. There are roughly twenty villages located throughout the township, and livelihoods are mostly based upon agriculture. As of 2010, Kyinkhor has about seven villages, while Halung has about nine villages.

The Kyinkhor Valley was not part of Wendo in the past.  Thus at least as of 2010, those villages were not allowed to host the annual sport meeting during Losar (lo sar, the Tibetan Lunar new year), though all other villages in the township can host (the Kyinkhor villagers are allowed to participate otherwise). The stated reason is that they do not want “outsiders” to host these important communal activities, and thus not a single committee member of the organizational group is from Kyinkhor, while all the other villages take turns hosting the event. Mangyül Valley is also called "Rigongwar" (ri sgong bar).


Most villages adhere to the Geluk (dge lugs) sect.  The largest monastery is now a Geluk monastery (formerly it was Sakya, sa skya) located in Shongyül valley. Every Losar, a large prayer (mönlam, smon lam) festival is held at the monastery, which attracts participants from other nearby townships. One village – Böntsangma – once adhered to the Bön (bon) tradition, but currently there is no Bön temple or monastery. The township (Mangyül in particular) is  most famous for being the birth place of the Tenth Panchen Lama, Artini Chökyi Gyeltsen (chos kyi rgyal mtshan, February 19, 1938 – January 28, 1989), one of the most famous religious and political figures in Tibet of the twentieth century.


The township is almost exclusively inhabited by Tibetans who speak an Amdo (a mdo) agrarian dialect (a mdo rong skad). In contemporary times people identify themselves as “Amdo”; beyond that, they used to describe themselves as belonging to the Repgong (reb gong) area, but now are far more likely to identify themselves in terms of the contemporary county and township – Xunhua Wendu or "Yadzi" (ya rdzi) Wendu in  Tibetan. The region is dominated by Salwar Muslims, which results in significant ethnic tension.


The township has forests in its valleys’ upper reaches, but not in their lower areas. The forests are quite diverse (stag pa, gyer pa, son shing, shug pa), and the wildlife includes wolves.


Wendu's seat is located about thirty minutes car ride from the Repgong prefectural seat. It is also situated about thirty kilometers from the Yadzi County town.

An Introduction to Wendu Township

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Collection Essays on Places
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)
Author Pakpa Dondrup, David Germano
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