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Lhasa Potala and Jokhang

butter lamps, shrines and Buddhism; Barkhor, yaks and dancing

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September 30th Lhasa, Tibet
After an interesting breakfast (very much a Chinese/ Tibetan one) consisting of, for us, the Tibetan version of porridge, we took our meds (mainly diamox) and set off for the morning tour of the Potala Palace. Our guide had taken our passports the previous day to get our timed tickets.

Potala Palace, named after Mount Potala, originally the abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara, is now a museum. The site was used as a meditation retreat by King Songtsen Gampo, who in 637 built the palace to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang dynasty (618-907) of China. Lozang Gyatso, the famous 5th Lama, started the construction of Potala Palace in 1645 after a spiritual adviser, Konchog Chophel, pointed out the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. Potala Palace is the highest ancient palace in the world and is named after a holy hill in South India, meaning in Sanskrit "Abode of the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy)." Legend has it that in the 7th century, to greet Princess Wen Cheng, King Songtsen Gampo built a 9-storey palace with 1000 rooms up on Red Hill and named it Potala. The palace was mainly made of stones and woods, and decorated with special local willow branches called Baima Grass. Later, with the collapse of the dynasty, the ancient palace was almost destroyed in wars. What we now see is the architecture of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and continuous extensions since the 17th c. Potala Palace is a symbol of the cultural and economic communication of Tibet and the Tang Court. Now, with high historical value, the palace is very important to China. The Palace is composed of 2 parts, the Red Palace as the centre and the White Palace as two wings.

Red Palace (Potrang Marpo) is the central and highest part and devoted to religious study and Buddhist prayer. It was painted to red to represent stateliness and power. It consists of a complicated layout of different halls, chapels and libraries on many levels with an array of smaller galleries and winding passages including the Great West Hall, Dharma Cave, Saint's Chapel, Tomb of the 13th Dalai Lama etc. The 725 m2 Great West Hall is the largest hall, with beautiful murals painted on its inner walls. Around the Great West Hall are 3 chapels; East chapel, North chapel and South chapel. Dharma Cave and Saint's Chapel are the only two remaining constructions of the 7th century, with statues of Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng, and Princess Bhrikuti inside.
549109a0-bbb8-11eb-bd48-87dd2e4def8b.pngWhite Palace (Potrang Karpo) once served as the office of Tibet’s local government and the living quarters of the Dalai Lama. Its wall was painted white to convey peace and quiet. The Great East Hall on the fourth floor, occupying a space of 717 m2, was the site for important religious and political events. The fifth and sixth floors were the living quarters and offices of the regents while the seventh floor, the top one, is the living quarters consisting of two parts named the East Chamber of Sunshine and West Chamber of Sunshine due to the plentiful sunshine Potala Palace enjoys. Annexes include the School of Buddhist Logic, seminary, printing House, gardens, courtyards and even the jail. Travel Tips
1. The route is set; use the east entrance, and queue for their time at the stone steps.
2. The visit is limited to 1 hour.
3. No liquid is allowed from outside. Water can be purchased at a cost of CNY10 for one bottle at the top.
4. Don't wear a hat or sunglasses; don’t step on the doorsill.

History of the Potala
Marpo Ri, the 130m high “Red Hill”, which commands a view of all of Lhasa, was the site of King Songtsen Gampo’s palace during the mid 7th century, long before the construction of today’s Potala. There is little to indicate what this palace looked like, but it’s clear that royal precedent was a major factor in the 5th Dalai Lama’s choice of this site when he decided to move the seat of his Gelugpa government from Drepung Monastery. Work began first of the White Palace (Kharpo Podrang) in 1645. The 9-storey structure was completed 3 years later and in 1649 the 5th Dalai Lama moved to his new residence. However, the circumstances surrounding the construction of the larger Red Palace (Marpo Podrang) are subject to some dispute. It is agreed that the 5th Dalai Lama died in 1682 and that his death was concealed until the completion of the Red Palace 12 years late. In some accounts, the work was initiated by the regents who governed Tibet 1679-1703, and that the foundations were laid in 1690 (ie after his death). In other accounts the Red Palace was conceived by the 5th Dalai Lama as a funerary chorten and work was well underway by the time of his death. In any event his death was not announced until he was put to rest in the newly completed Red Palace. There is scholarly debate concerning the Potala’s name. The most probable explanation is that it dervies from the Tibetan name for Chenresig’s ‘pure land’ (paradise), known as Potala. Given that Songtsen Gampo and the Dalai Lamas are believed to be reincarnations of Chenresig this connection is compelling. Since its construction the Potala has been the home of each successive dalai lama, although since construction of the Norbulingka summer palace in the late 18th century, it served as a winter residence only. It was also the seat of the Tibetan government, and with chapels, schools, jails and even tombs for the Dalai Lamas, it was virtually a self contained world. The Potala was shelled briefly during the 1959 popular uprising against the Chinese, but the damage was not extensive. The Potala was spared again during the Cultural Revolution, reportedly at the insistence of Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier, who is said to have deployed his own troops to protect it. The Potala was reopened to the public in 1980. A quota system is in place to manage the volumes of tourists and pilgrims. Our guide had to go to the office at the southwest gate the day before with passports to get a reservation slip with time slot for the next day, as only 2800 people can visit on a day (limited to 1 hour inside the palace itself).
Around the larger site:
! Shöl village- nestled at the southern foot of Marpo Ri (Shöl means ‘at the base’), the former village of Shöl was once Lhasa’s red light district and the location of a prison, printing press and ancillary government buildings. The reconstructed buildings include a pub and a medieval torture chamber. Give it a miss!
! Treasures of Potala Exhibition- This new exhibition hall was really worth the visit; inc a stunning 15th century Vajradhara mandala and fine 3rd floor ritual implements including the largest key we've seen
! Deyang Shar (courtyard). Entry to the Potala is up 2 steep access ramps that we took carefully in the oxygen starved air. View from first flight of steps above. The stairs lead past the ticket office to the large Deyang Shar, the external courtyard of the White palace. At the top of the triple stairs leading to the White Palace, the golden handprints of the 5th Dalai Lama were on the wall to the our left. Murals to the north depicted Songtsen’s original Potala, the construction of the Jokhang and transfer of the Jowo Sakyamuni statue there. Originally 22 horse-skin drums were beaten here to mark the evening closure of the Potala’s gates.

54883000-bbb8-11eb-80a1-7324be1a2224.pngWhite Palace
Having zig-zagged up the stairs we arrived at the first courtyard outside the White Palace; went through the first set of rooms and came to the top (actually a roof). We headed right for the private quarters of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lama, who would have watched festival dances performed in the courtyard below from the hidden balconies of these personal chambers.
The first room we came to was the throne room (Simchung Nyiwoi Shar), where the Dalai Lama received official guests. The large picture on the left of the the throne room is of the 13th Dalai Lama; the matching photo of the 14th Dalai Lama has been removed. There were some fine murals here, including one of the Chinese Buddhist mountain Wutai Shan and the mythical paradise of Shambala on either side of his entry; and a depiction of Bodhgaya (where Buddha achieved enlightenment) at the far exit.
The trail continued clockwise into the reception hall (Dhaklen Paldseg). Next came the meditation room, which still displays the ritual implements of the present Dalai Lama on a small table to the side of the room. Protector gods here included Nagpo Chenpo (Mahakala), the Nechung oracle and Palden Lhamo. The final room, the study of the Dalai Lama (Chimey Namgyal) has some personal effects of his on show, such as his bedside clock, The mural above the seat is of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa order of which the Dalai Lama is the head. The small door leads into the Dalai Lama’s bedroom.
East section White Palace; watchtower west section 1675 monks living quarters Namgyal Dratsang (1 hall reserved Oracle Tanma)
White Palace courtyard by Desi Sonam Rabden 17th Century
Senior Seminary on the east side of the eastern courtyard by the 7th Dalai Lama in 1754 to train monk as officials; “Prosperity gate” to the White Palace carved with the 8 Auspicious Symbols and 7 lions (representative of the 7 Royal Emblems). The tablet above the gate reads Gate of Prosperity in Sanskrit and Tibetan characters. Eastern Audience Hall of the White Palace. aka Chapel of Fulfillment. From 1650 all celebrations/ religious ceremonies were held in his hall. The tablet above throne was given by Qing Emperor Tongzhi in 1867 and reads Blessing of Abundance Lights all directions.
The Portal of the White Palace leads to the upper part of the White palace. The 4 columns and 8 beams are carved with a tiger, garuda, lion, dragon, and 8 Medicine Gods; West Sunshine Hall aka Meritorious Hall, used for the daily prayers, chapel and bedchamber of the Dalai Lama; Dalai Lama study or Chamber of Eternal Life

Red Palace
After leaving the White Palace we continued on up into the Red Palace. The tour of the main building starts from the top and descends through the bowels to the exit on the ground floor. The gilded Buddhas, intricate mandalas and towering funeral stupas we passed en route rank were highlights of the Potala.
Third Floor
Oddly (but mainly because you start from the roof), you begin the Red Palace from the Third Floor. The first room was the Chapel of Jampa (Jamkhang) which contained an exquisite image of Jampa (Maitreya/ Future Buddha, commissioned by the 8th Dalai Lama; it stands opposite the Dalai Lama’s throne. To the right of the throne, in the corner, is a wooden Kalachakra mandala. The walls are stacked with the collected works of Tsongkhapa and the 5th Dalai Lama. The chapel was unfortunately damaged in a fire in 1984 and many valuable thangkas were lost.f5a60670-c6de-11eb-ab43-ab0d39007b95.pngf60823a0-c6de-11eb-9fc7-87039e97b163.png
Jampa; Mandala of Tantric deity Guhya Samaja (erected 1749)
Continuing clockwise (of course) was the Chapel of Three-dimensional Mandalas (Loilang khang) which housed the spectacular jewel encrusted mandalas of the 3 principal Tantric deities of the Gelugpa sect. These are essentially 3-d versions of the mandalas you see painted on thangkas and act as mediation maps for the mind. The Chapel of the Victory over the Three Worlds (Sasum Namgyal) housed a library and displays of Manchu texts. The main statue is a golden 1000-armed Chenresig, while the main thangka is of the Manchu emperor Qianlong dressed in monks robes, with accompanying inscriptions in Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian and Manchurian. Next was the Chapel of Immortal Happiness (Chimey Dedan Kyil), once the residence of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, whose throne remains, now dedicated to Tsepame (Buddha of Longevity) by the window.
Chenresig (Chapel of Victory); Tomb of 13th Dalai Lama; Image in Lamo Lhakhang
Next to him, in the corner, was the the Dzogchen deity Ekajati (Tsechigma) with an ostrich feather hat and a single fang. The Chapel of the Stupa of the 13th Dalai Lama came next, followed by, in the northwest corner, the Lamo Lhakhang and the Golden Tomb of the 7th Dalai Lama (Serdung Tashi Obar Khang) aka Stupa of Auspicious Light, constructed in 1757 and encased in 1/2 tonne of gold. To the right stands a statue of Kalsang Gyatso, the 7th Dalai Lama.
In the northwest corner, steps led up into the small but very important Chapel of Arya Lokeshvara (Phagpa Lhakhang). Allegedly this is one of the few corners of the Potala that dates from the time of Songtsen Gampo’s 7th century palace. It is the most sacred of Potala’s chapels and the sandalwood image of Arya Lokeshvara inside is the most revered image in the Potala. The statue is accompanied on the left by the 7th Dalai Lama and Tsongkhapa, and on the right by the 5th, 8th and 9th Dalai Lamas. The chapel, as it dates a long way back, is quite undulating on the floor, partly due to ground movements, but mainly due to centuries of pilgrims feet!
Relics include stone footprints of Guru Rinpoche and Tsongkhapa. The last 2 rooms on this floor were the towering jewel-encrusted tombs of the 8th and 9th Dalai Lamas, the former built in 1805 and over 9m tall. The corridors are beautifully decorated here- note the rows of lions over the lintels.
Corridors and 8th Dalai Lama Stupa of Merciful Light and 9th Dalai Lama Stupa of Happiness of the Three Realms.
From here we went down the wooden staits to access the second floor. We took advantage of the reception hall in the middle of the 2nd floor with seating and bought our amazing Potala book (which we collected later).

Second Floor
The first chapel on the 2nd floor is the Chapel of Kalachakra (DukhorLhaklang), aka the Wheel of Time, noted for its stunning 3-d mandala, over 6m in diameter and finely detailed with over 170 statues. Then it was the first Chapel of Sakyamuni (Thubwang Lhakhang), which housed a library, the throne of the 7th Dalai Lama (photo on next page), 8 bodhisattvas and some fine gold painted calligraphy. Tibetan or umê script wa traditionally invented by Thonmi Sambhota, a minister of Songtsen Gampo, c600 AD.
e9615bc0-c6ee-11eb-b2f9-a17b95c33041.pngBased on Indian scripts it is an alphabetic one, where symbols (letters) correspond to sounds (like our own, but different from Chinese logograms)
In the Chapel of Nine Buddhas of Longevity (Tsepap Lhakhang), we noticed the murals by the left window; the left side depicted the interesting lama Tangtong Gyelpo (15th century) who built iron bridges, as well as being a medic and the inventor of Tibetan opera, often shown white haired and his celebrated bridge (now destroyed) over the Yarlung Tsangpo near Chushul. The images of coracle rafts halfway up the wall add a nice touch. There are 9 statues of Tsepame here, as well as a green and white Drölma. The 2nd Chapel of Sakyamuni / Zegya Lhakhang was closed for restoration, but our guide said it was of less interest. We continued along the beautifully decorated corridor towards the northwest corner. Although busy, we still had a great view. Whilst we waited D pointed out the different clothes and hair styles of Tibetans from different areas. It is considered a religious duty to make kora in Lhasa (especially the Jokhang and Potala) at least once.
Throne of 7th Dalai Lama, Corridor Mural
We continued to the northwestern corner to access a small corridor that lead to King Songtsen Gampo’s Meditation Chamber (Chogyal Drupuk), which along with the Chapel of Arya Lokeshvara, is one of the oldest rooms in the Potala. The most important statue in here is of Songtsen Gampo himself, to the left of the pillar. To his left is his minister Tonmi Sambhota (inventor of the Tibetan script) and to his right his Chinese and Nepali wives. A statue of his Tibetan wife, Mongsa Tricham (the only one to have a son), is in a cabinet by the door. The 5th Dalai Lama lurks behind (and also on) the central pillar, and Gar Tsongtsen, the Tibetan PM (and Songtsen’s right hand man) who travelled to the Tang court to escort Princess Wencheng to Tibet. The dark (over time and with many yak-butter lamps) beams and furnishings gave a cave-like look to the rooms and they are also referred to as the Cave of Chogyal.
Statue Songtsen Gampo; Thonmai Sambota, KhongTsan, Prince Khongru, Kong Sontsen Gampo; bottom- 3 princesses from left Tristsun, Mongsa Tricahm (holding Prince Khongru), Wencheng
The last 3 rooms on the 2nd floor are interlinked and chock full of 3000 pieces of statuary (and pilgrims), many donated by a Khampa business man in 1995.
First Floor
The first floor was shut to visitors.
Ground Floor
This floor, which we accessed last, was covered with beautiful murals that told the story of both Tibet and the Potala Palace. To complement this were sets of beautiful embroidered thangka depicting various kings, deities and religious people. Below is a selection of these.
The Royal Palace is built- 7th C King Songtsen Gampo builds a palace on Red Hill and the queen's palace on Iron Hill; Spirits send favours to the palace; The 5th Dalai Lama’s tomb is erected; Annual festival; To celebrate the palace completion Tibetan, Han, and Mongolians take part in their traditional games
As we rounded the steps to the ground floor of the Red Palace (so we were still a long way up), we entered the magnificent Western assembly hall (aka Chapel of Fulfillment), which is the largest hall in the Potala, and its physical centre. We noted the fine carved pillar heads. The large throne that dominates one end of the hall was the throne of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsanyang Gyatso. Four important chapels framed the hall.
The first is the Chapel of Lamrim. Lamrim means ‘graduated path’ and refers to the graduated stages that mark the path to enlightenment. The central figure is Tsongkhapa, with whom lamrim texts are usually associated. Outside the chapel, to the left, a fine mural of the Forbidden City commemorated the 5th Dalai Lama’s visit to the court of Emperor Shunzhi in 1652.
The next chapel, the long Rigzin Lhakhang, is dedicated to the eight Indian teachers (gurus) who brought tantric practises and rituals to Tibet. The central figure is a silver statue of Guru Rinpoche (one of the 8), flanked by his consorts Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyel (turquoise headdress), as well as statues of the 8 teachers to the left and a further 8 statues of him in different manifestations on the right.
In the west wing of the assembly hall a highlight of the Potala, is the awe inspiring Chapel of the Dalai Lamas Tombs (Serdung Zamling Gyenjikhang), dominated by the huge 12.6m high chorten of the great 5th Dalai Lama, gilded with 3.7kg of gold and covered with precious stones. Flanking it are 2 smaller chortens containing the 10th and 12th Dalai Lamas, who both died as children. Richly embossed, the chortens represent the concentrated wealth of an entire nation. One of the precious stones is a pearl said to have been discovered in an elephant’s brain and thus, in a brilliant understatement, ‘considered a rarity’. Eight other chortens represent the 8 major events in the life of Buddha.
The 8 Great Stupa: Lotus Blossom (Sugata stupa); Enlightenment (Stupa of the Conquest/ Mara); Stupa of Many Doors; Stupa of Miracles/ Conquest.
Stupa of Descent from God Realm; Stupa Complete Victory; Nirvana stupa

Stupa-tombs of Dalai Lamas
5th DL A Gem of Jambudvipa. a relic of Buddha and tooth of Tsong Khapa housed within; 10th DL Superior Jewel of the 3 Realms; 12th DL Light of Longevity; Famous White Stupa on the Red Hill
9th DL Happiness of Three Realms; 11th DL Light of Well Being; 13th DL Wish Fulfilling Virtue

The Chapel of the Holy Born (Trungrab Lhakhang) has in its corner the statue and chorten of the 11th Dalai Lama, who died at 17. There are also statues of the eight medicine buddhas with their characteristic blue hair, a central golden Sakyamuni and 5th Dalai Lama (silver), a Chenresig, Songtsen Gampo, Dromtönpa (founder of the Kadampa sect) and the first 4 Dalai Lamas.
10th, 11th and 12th Dalai Lamas (died young)

Potala Kora: the pilgrim path that encircles the foot of the Potala made a nice walk; it took us about 1⁄2 hour. From the large western chorten (formerly the city’s west gate), we followed the prayer wheels to the northwest corner, with its 3 large chortens. The northeast corner had several rock paintings and a prayer hall with chanting nuns. Just past here I span a large prayer wheel of the rebuilt Phurbu Chok Mani Lhakhang, past the Chinese style square. We passed 3 18th century doring (stele); 2 on the north to victory over the Central Asian Dzungars (1721) and Nepali Gorkhas (1788/ 1791). King Trisong Detsen is said to have erected the single southern obelisk in the 8th century.

Tibetan Independence 14th-18th C
With the decline of the Yuan dynasty, Central Tibet was ruled by successive families 14th-17th c. Tibet was de facto independent from mid- 14th century for nearly 400 years. In spite of the weakening of central authority, the neighbouring Ming Dynasty of China made little effort to impose direct rule, although it made nominal claims to Tibetan territory by establishing the U-Tsang Regional Military Commission and Do-Kham Regional Military Commission in 1370s. They kept friendly relations with some Buddhist religious leaders known as Princes of Dharma and granted some other titles to local leaders including the Grand Imperial Tutor.
Phagmodru(pa) Dynasty (ཕག་མོ་གྲུ་པ་) was a dynastic regime that held sway over Tibet from 1354-early 17th c. It was established by Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen of the Lang family at the end of the Yuan dynasty. The dynasty had a lasting importance on the history of Tibet; it created an autonomous kingdom after Mongol rule, revitalised Tibetan culture, and brought about a new legislation that survived until the 1950s. Nevertheless, the Phagmodrupa had a turbulent history due to internal family feuding and strong localism among noble lineages and fiefs. Its power receded after 1435 and was reduced to Ü (East Central Tibet) in the 16th century due to the rise of the ministerial family of the Rinpungpa. It was defeated by the rival Tsangpa dynasty in 1613, and was formally superseded by the Ganden Phodrang regime founded by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1642. In that year, Güshi Khan of the Khoshut formally transferred the old possessions of Sakya, Rinpung and Phagmodrupa to the "Great Fifth”. The monastic principality Phagmodru ("sow's ferry crossing"), which was founded as a hermitage in 1158 by the famous scholar Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo (Kagyu school/sect) was situated in Nêdong district southeast of Lhasa. After his death in 1170, his disciples organised a monastery, called Dansa Thil 1198. Phagmodru evolved into a large and wealthy estate around the monastery, which was governed by members of the Lang family. They maintained a variant of the Dagpo Kagyu school of Buddhism known as Phagdru Kagyu. The area had already been associated with the Lang (Rlang) family, and with the waning of Ilkhanate influence it was ruled by this family, within the Mongol- Sakya framework headed by the Mongol appointed Pönchen (Dpon chen) at Sakya. When Mongol rule was imposed on Tibet in the mid-13th century, Phagmodru became an appanage under Hülegü Khan (1251), forming one of the 13 myriarchies (divisions) of Central Tibet. The areas under Lang administration were encroached upon in the late 13th/ early 14th c.
Jangchub Gyaltsän (1302–64) saw these encroachments as illegal and sought the restoration of Phagmodru lands after his appointment as the Myriarch in 1322. After prolonged legal struggles, the struggle became violent when Phagmodru was attacked by its neighbours in 1346. Jangchub Gyaltsän was arrested and released in 1347. When he later refused to appear for trial, his domains were attacked by the Pönchen in 1348. Janchung Gyaltsän was able to defend Phagmodru, and had military successes, until by 1351 he was the strongest political figure in the country. Military hostilities ended in 1354 with Jangchub Gyaltsän as the unquestioned victor, who established the Phagmodrupa Dynasty in that year. He continued to rule central Tibet until his death in 1364, although he left all Mongol institutions in place as a formality. As Mongol ruler Toghon Temür had local troubles he preferred to confirm the acquisitions of Changchub Gyaltsen and conferred the titles darakache and tai situ (grand tutor) on him. Yuan control was waning in Tibet. The Sakya regime, centered in Tsang (West Central Tibet) had hitherto wielded power over Tibet on behalf of the Mongols. However, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen superseded Sakya in the period 1354–1358, recreating an autonomous Tibetan state. Power remained in the hands of the Phagmodru family until 1434. The rule of Jangchub Gyaltsän and his successors saw a new cultural self-awareness of the ancient Tibetan Kingdom. During this period reformist scholar Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) founded the Gelug sect which would have a decisive influence on Tibet's history. In 1372 the Hongwu Emperor conferred the title Guanding Guoshi on Changchub Gyaltsen's successor Jamyang Shakya Gyaltsen (1364–1373) together with a jade seal. The first rulers were lamas who did not marry, and the succession up to 1481 went via collateral kinsmen. The dynasty was divided into 3 branches or functionaries: the ruling desi, the spiritual masters (chen-nga) of the Dansa Thil and Tsethang monasteries, and the preserver of the family (dunggyu dsinpa) who sired children to continue the Lang lineage. While the first 4 rulers declined to take royal titles, being content with desi, the 5th ruler Drakpa Gyaltsen (1385-1432) appropriated the royal titles gongma (high one, superior) and chogyal. From 1354- 1435 the rulers managed to uphold a balance between the various fiefs. The early Phagmodrupa era was culturally productive, and been termed a "golden age". There was an intense interest in reviving the glories of the ancient Tibetan kingdom, and many supposedly ancient texts were "rediscovered". The monasteries gained increasing influence on the life of the Tibetans. This period included the work of the Buddhist reformer Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelug sect, and his younger kinsman Gedun Drub, posthumously counted as the 1st Dalai Lama.
1. Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen (1354–1364)
2. Desi Shakya Gyaltsen (1364–1373) nephew (with uncle abbot Jamyang Shakya Gyaltsen as regent)
3. Desi Drakpa Changchub (1373–1381) nephew
4. Desi Sonam Drakpa (1381–1385) brother
5. Gongma Drakpa Gyaltsen (1385–1432) cousin
6. Gongma Drakpa Jungne (1432–1445) nephew
At length the Phagmodrupa were crippled by internal dissent in the Lang family. A brief civil war in 1434 weakened their position. Powerful feudatories took the opportunity to increase their power, in particular the Rinpungpa family who came to dominate Tsang. In 1481 one of their line, Donyo Dorje, managed to have king Kunga Lekpa (1448–81) deposed. The Rinpungpa tended to associate with the Karmapa sect of Buddhism while the Phagmodrupa favoured the rival Gelug sect. In the political landscape at this period it was important for rulers to find alliances with powerful monasteries and sects. Kunga Lekpa's grandnephew Ngawang Tashi Drakpa (1499-1554, 1556–1564) pushed the Rinpungpa from the Lhasa area in 1517/8. He was the last effective king of the dynasty, keeping good relations with the 2nd and 3rd Dalai Lamas, but his influence was mainly restricted to Ü. As he grew old, infighting beset the family, and his death in 1564 was followed by a long interregnum until his grandson Ngawang Drakpa Gyaltsen was placed on the increasingly hollow throne in 1576. Though largely powerless, he maintained some importance as a focal point around whom the various noble and clerical factions of Tibet balanced. At the same time a new powerful dynasty, the Tsangpa (1565–1642), arose in Tsang who overthrew the Rinpungpa and increased their territory in Tibet. Like the Rinpungpa they allied with the Karmapa sect. The history of the Phagmodrupa after the death of Ngawang Drakpa Gyaltsen in 1603/04 is obscure as they were eclipsed by other political factions. They were defeated by the Tsangpa in 1613 and 1620, and the final incumbent expelled from Lhasa in 1635. After his victory over the Tsangpa in 1642, the 5th Dalai Lama maintained friendly relations with the last titular lord of the line. Some years after the latter's death in 1671, Nêdong was given to an outsider and the Lang family lapsed into obscurity.
7. Gongma Kunga Lekpa (1448–1481) brother
8. Gongma Ngagi Wangpo (1481–1491) nephew
9. Tsokye Dorje (1491–1499) regent from the Rinpungpa line
10. Gongma Ngawang Tashi Drakpa (1499–1554, 1556/57–1564) son of Gongma Ngagi Wangpo
11. Gongma Drowai Gonpo (1524–1548) son
12. Gongma Ngawang Drakpa (1554–1556/57, 1576–1603/04) son
13. Mipham Wanggyur Gyalpo (1604–1613) grandnephew (?)
14. Mipham Sonam Wangchuk Drakpa Namgyal Palzang (d.1671, r.1613) grandson Ngawang Drakpa Gyaltsen

Rinpungpa ཪིན་སྤུངས་པ་ Tibetan regime dominated Western Tibet and Ü-Tsang 1435-1565. During the period around 1500 the Rinpungpa lords came close to having the Tibetan lands around the Yarlung Tsangpo River under one authority, but their powers receded after 1512. The Rinpungpa belonged to the Ger clan, which traced back to the days of the Tibetan Empire. One of their line, Namkha Gyaltsen, served as nanglon (minister of internal affairs) under Phagmodrupa ruler Jamyang Shakya Gyaltsen. He was appointed dzongpon (governor) of the fief Rinpung in Rong, a region in Tsang c1373. His political position was strengthened by his marriage to Phagmodrupa princess Sönam Palmö. Their daughter was later married to Phagmodrupa prince Sangye Gyaltsen, and gave birth to the later ruler Drakpa Jungne (1432- 45). The son of Namkha Gyaltsen was Namkha Gyalpo who took over the Rinpung estate. He was succeeded in 1413 by his young son Norzang (1435-66), a strong personality who expanded the fortunes of the family on a Tibet-wide level. He increased his control over territories in Shang, Tag, Ling and Kyur and was the patron of the Jamchen Monastery, founded 1427. The Rinpungpa took advantage of a family feud within the Phagmodrupa Dynasty in 1434. Norzang seized Samdrubtse (Shigatse) from the governor of the Chonggye family in 1435 or 1446. Samdrubtse was a strategic spot and key to power over Tsang. Norzang expanded his influence over Tsang, Rong and Shang. His kinsman, Phagmodrupa king Kunga Lekpa (1448-81) was born from a Rinpung princess and in turn married a Rinpungpa. He was not able to stop the advances of his powerful vassal. Norzang married Kunga Lekpa's sister, furthering the elaborated net of kinship ties between the two families. While still acknowledging the Phagmodrupa, the Rinpungpa subsequently built up a strong position, bearing the title desi (regent). The increasing importance of the Buddhist sects in this period made it crucial for secular rulers to seek support from religious networks. The Rinpungpa became patrons of the Karma Kagyu school, which was sometimes opposed to the Gelugpa. However, early Rinpungpa lords supported other sects such as Sakya. After the death of Norzang in 1466 the fortunes of the Rinpungpa took a downturn for a while under his obscure son Kunzang (1466-c79). He was succeeded by his son Donyo Dorje(c1479-1512), a powerful figure. While pursuing an aggressive policy to achieve domination over Central Tibet, he was also a religious patron, sponsoring the foundation of Yangpachen Monastery for the Shamarpa hierarch of the Karma Kagyu sect. His policy towards the Phagmodrupa was one of confrontation. King Kunga Lekpa lived in a conflict-ridden marriage with the Rinpung princess. Donyo Dorje eventually invaded the central domain in 1480 and Kunga Lekpa was forced to abdicate in favour of a nephew, a relative non-entity. The Rinpungpa proceeded to defeat various regional lords and increase their power. In 1485 they attacked the important estate Gyangtse and captured the lord of Yung. In 1491 Donyo Dorje’s uncle Tsokye Dorje took power as regent in the Phagmodrupa seat Nêdong (1491–99) during the minority of the heir Ngawang Tashi Drakpa. The years around 1500 saw the high tide of Rinpungpa power, and the authority of Donyo Dorje was almost absolute, supported by the Karmapa and Shamarpa hierarchs. In 1499 the important kingdom of Guge in Ngari (West Tibet) acknowledged Rinpungpa. Due to pressure from the Rinpungpa, who favoured the Karma Kagyu, the Gelugpa school were forbidden to participate in the great Monlam ceremony in Lhasa 1498- 1517. After the deaths of the powerful princes Tsokye Dorje (1510) and Donyo Dorje (1512), however, the power of the Rinpungpa declined. In spite of Rinpungpa patronage the hierarchs of the Karma Kagyu, Karmapa and Shamarpa, were adverse to being closely controlled by the secular lords and strove to re-establish Phagmodrupa rule. In the early 16th c Ngawang Tashi Drakpa of Phagmodrupa managed to regain a degree of influence, pushing out the new Rinpung lords Zilnonpa and Ngawang Namgyal (1512-44), a grandson of Norzang, from Lhasa. He was friendly to the Gelugpa leader Gedun Gyatso (posthumous 2nd Dalai Lama), which at this stage did not exclude relations with the Karma Kagyu. The direct power of Rinpungpa in Ü (East Central Tibet) was henceforth limited. An agreement between the factions of Ü and Tsang was reached in 1518. The nominal head of the Rinpungpa, the boy Zilnonpa, asked the king for investiture as dzongpon, which was given. In fact the Rinpungpa continued to wield power over Tsang. The following decades under Dondup Tseten Dorje (1544-?) were marked by a confusing succession of clashes and temporary reconciliations. The waning of Rinpungpa power was marked by an abortive invasion of the Mangyül Gungthang kingdom in West Tibet in 1555. In 1557 a retainer of the Rinpungpa, Karma Tseten, governor of Shigatse, rebelled. In 1565 the cultivated Rinpungpa ruler Ngawang Jigme Drakpa (?-1565) brother of Dondup, was defeated by Karma Tseten, who founded the new Tsangpa Dynasty which would rule Central Tibet to 1642. The Rinpungpa survived in their heartland Rong and periodically tried to revive their fortune. They staged an abortive attack on Kyishö in Ü in 1575 and quarrelled with the Tsangpa ruler. After the Tsang-Rong war of 1589 their power was exhausted, and they were forced to capitulate in 1590. Local Rinpungpa princes are known up to the early 17th century.

Tsangpa གཙང་པ dynasty dominated large parts of Tibet 1565-1642, the last Tibetan royal dynasty to rule in own name. The regime was founded by Karma Tseten (1565–99), a low-born retainer of the Rinpungpa Dynasty and governor of Shigatse. During the 16th c Tibet was fragmented among rival factions, along religious as well as dynastic lines. The Phagmodrupa Dynasty lost any semblance of power after 1564 and its rival Rinpungpa was also unable to achieve unity. Among the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karma Kagyu school competed against the Gelug (headed by the Dalai Lama). Karma Tseten raised the standard of rebellion in 1557 and defeated the Rinpungpa in 1565, facilitated by simmering discontent with the Rinpungpa among several vassals. Known as the Depa Tsangpa or Tsang Desi, he became king of Upper Tsang and allied with Köncho Yenlak, the 5th Shamarpa of the Karma Kagyu. Wangchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa Lama, met him on several occasions and transferred tutelary deities, a ritually important act to legitimise the new regime. Karma Tseten also patronised the Nyingma, Sakya and Jonang sects. The rise of the dynasty should be seen against the anxiety of outside intervention in a deeply divided country. The alliance between the 3rd Dalai Lama and Altan Khan (1578) aroused the fear of aristocratic families in Ü-Tsang and of non-Gelug schools. This motivated the Karmapa (title of the head of the Kagyu sect) to seek protection with the Tsangpa rulers. The new dynasty strove to keep Tibet free from Mongol incursions in the late 16th/ early 17th c. The last remains of Rinpungpa authority vanished in 1590 as they were forced to capitulate their heartland Rong to Karma Tseten. Sources from this period are mainly concerned with religious affairs and do not disclose much about the Tsangpa. The basis of their power is still insufficiently understood, and nor is the history of Karma Tseten's closest successors well known (Khunpang Lhawang Dorje c1582 1605 older son, Karma Thutob Namgyal c1586-1610, younger son), but in the early 17th century the dynasty is frequently mentioned as a competitor for power over Tibet. The family was generally opposed to the Gelugpa/ Dalai Lamas, whose power was increasing in Ü. The Tsangpa ruler Karma Tensung (1599-1611), brother of Karma Thutob Namgyal, (or nephew Karma Phuntsok Namgyal) reacted by invading Ü in 1605 and attacking Drepung and Sera Gelugpa Monasteries. 5,000 monks are said to have been massacred. The Tsangpa army expelled the Mongol troops that assisted the 4th Dalai Lama, himself a Mongol prince by birth. The Dalai Lama fled and the Tsangpa ruler was close to becoming king of Tibet. He was less successful against Bhutan, where his enemy, Ngawang Namgyal, prince-abbot of Ralung Monastery in Tsang and one of the reincarnations of 4th Gyalwang, Drukpa Kunkhyen Pema Karpo (Drukpa Lineage), had taken refuge. In 1618, the Tsangpa Gyelpo pushed further into Ü and defeated the local leaders of Kyishö and Tsal. By now Karma Phuntsok Namgyal (1611-20), son of Karma Thutob Namgyal, was virtually the ruler of Central Tibet and was consecrated as such by Chöying Dorje, 10th Karmapa. In 1619, the West Tibetan kingdom of Mangyül Gungthang was conquered and Karma Phuntsok Namgyal returned to Ü in order to eliminate the last possible obstacle to his authority. Nêdong, seat of the impotent Phagmodrupa Dynasty, was besieged and forced to yield. Tsang forces occupied the entire Yarlung Valley. The hegemony of Tsangpa was, however, brief. Their position as an upstart family without aristocratic roots made their authority tenuous. After 4th Dalai Lama Yonten Gyatso's death, his successor, the 5th Dalai Lama (1617–82), received help from the Mongols, who pushed into Ü in 1621. The new Tsangpa king Karma Tenkyong (1620-42), son of Karma Phuntsok Namgyal, was defeated and besieged at Chakpori Hill by Lhasa, and his army only escaped annihilation through the intervention of the Panchen Lama. An agreement was made whereby the Gelugpa regained their authority in Ü. The abbot of the important Drigung Monastery in Ü, allied to the Tsangpa, was abducted by the Tumed Mongols in 1623. In retaliation Karma Tenkyong brought his troops to Ü and occupied the Lhasa region. Karma Tenkyong sought the assistance of the Choghtu Mongols, whose prince Arsalan invaded Tibet in 1635 to attack the Gelugpa positions.
Tibetan Autumn colours
However, Arsalan declined to support the Tsangpa, leading to an unsatisfactory conclusion for Karma Tenkyong and the Karmapa and Shamarpa hierarchs. In 1641 Güshi Khan, leader of the Khoshut Mongols, attacked the king of Beri in Kham (a practitioner of the Bon religion who persecuted Buddhist lamas). After defeating Beri, he invaded Tsang, saying they were eradicating the Gelugpa. The Dalai Lama was opposed to a Mongol invasion which would have devastating effects on Central Tibet. The Tsangpa stronghold, Shigatse, was captured after a long and bloody siege in 1642. Karma Tenkyong was taken prisoner and kept in custody near Lhasa. After a revolt by Tsangpa supporters, Güshi Khan ordered Karma Tenkyong placed in an oxhide bag and drowned in a river. Güshi Khan presented Ü, Tsang and East Tibet to the Dalai Lama to rule. In this way began the religious Ganden Phodrang regime that would last until 1950.

Ganden Phodrang 17/18th C
The Ganden Phodrang was the Tibetan regime/ government established by the 5th Dalai Lama with the help of Güshi Khan of the Khoshut in 1642. Lhasa became the capital of Tibet in the beginning of this period, with all temporal power conferred to the 5th Dalai Lama by Güshi Khan in Shigatse. The rise of the Dalai Lama is intimately connected with the military power of Mongolian clans. Altan Khan, king of the Tümed Mongols, invited Sonam Gyatso, head of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism (later the 3rd Dalai Lama), to Mongolia in 1569 and 1578. Sonam Gyatso publicly announced he was a reincarnation of the Tibetan Sakya monk Drogön Chögyal Phagpa (1235–80) who had converted Kublai Khan, that Altan Khan was a reincarnation of Kublai Khan (1215–94), and that they had come together to cooperate in propagating the Buddhist religion. While this did not immediately lead to a massive conversion of Mongols to Buddhism (this happened in 1630s), it did lead to the widespread use of Buddhist ideology for the legitimation of power among the Mongol nobility. Altan designated Sonam Gyatso as "Dalai" (a translation into Mongolian of the name Gyatso, meaning "ocean"). As a result, Sonam Gyatso became Dalai Lama. Since this title was also posthumously given to Gendun Drup and Gendun Gyatso (considered Sonam Gyatso's previous incarnations), Sonam Gyatso became the 3rd Dalai Lama. Below- 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dalai Lamas.
1st Gedun Drupa (1391–1474) considered posthumously the 1st Dalai Lama. He founded the major monastery of Tashilhunpo at Shigatse, which later became the seat of the Panchen Lamas (2nd only to the Dalai Lama).
2nd Gendun Gyatso Palzangpo 1475–1542 posthumous 2nd Dalai Lama. Legend has it that soon after he learned to speak, he said his name was Pema Dorje, (birth name of Gendun Drup) and his father was Lobsang Drakpa Tsongkapa (founder of the Gelug school c1390, half Mongolian, half Tibetan). When he was 4, he told his parents he wished to live in the Tashilhunpo monastery (next to Shigatse and founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup) to be with his monks. He was proclaimed the reincarnation of Gendun Drup as a young boy.
3rd Sonam Gyatso, head of Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism (later the 3rd Dalai Lama), claimed to be Gendun Drup and Gendun Gyatso’s reincarnation.
4th Yonten Gyatso (1589–1616), 4th Dalai Lama and non-Tibetan, the grandson of Altan Khan. He died in 1616 in his mid-twenties. Some people say he was poisoned but there is no real evidence one way or the other.
5th Lobsang Gyatso (1617–1682) “Great” 5th Dalai Lama, the first Dalai Lama to wield political power over Tibet. His regent Sonam Rapten unified the Tibetan heartland under the control of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating rival Kagyu and Jonang sects and the secular ruler, the Tsangpa prince, in a civil war. His efforts were successful in part because of help from Güshi Khan, leader of the Khoshut Khanate. Sonam Rapten, being a fanatical and militant proponent of Gelugpa, persecuted the other schools. However, before leaving Tibet for China in 1652 the Dalai Lama issued a proclamation banning sectarian policies and ordered their reversal. The 5th Dalai Lama and his intimates, especially Sonam Rapten (until his death in 1658), established a civil administration referred to by historians as Lhasa state or Ganden Phodrang. In 1652, the 5th Dalai Lama visited the Shunzhi Emperor (Qing dynasty). He initiated the construction of Potala Palace, and moved the government there from Drepung. The death of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1682 was kept hidden for 15 years by his assistant, confidant, Desi Sangye Gyatso.
6th Tsangyang Gyatso (1683–1706) 6th Dalai Lama. He was a Monpa by ethnicity. born at Urgelling Monastery, India. Although the 5th Dalai Lama had died in 1682, the Regent Desi Sangye Gyatso kept his death a secret to continue the stable administration. Monks searched Tibet to find the next incarnation, but concluded that 6th Dalai Lama was born outside Tibet in a valley whose name ended with "ling". He had grown up a youth of high intelligence, fond of pleasure, alcohol and women, and later led a playboy lifestyle. As a Dalai Lama, Tsangyang often went against the principles of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. For example, he decided to give vows to Lobsang Yeshe, 5th Panchen Lama at 18 instead of the normal age. The Panchen Lama, who was the abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery, and Prince Lhazang, the younger brother of the Po Gyalpo Wangyal, persuaded him not to do so. He visited the 5th Panchen Lama in Shigatse and renounced the vows of a novice monk. He ordered the building of the Tromzikhang palace in Barkhor, Lhasa. Tsangyang Gyatso rejected life as a monk, although this did not mean the abdication of his position as Dalai Lama. Wearing normal clothes and preferring to walk than ride a horse or use the state palanquin, Tsangyang only kept the temporal prerogatives of the Dalai Lama. He visited the parks and spent nights in the streets of Lhasa, drinking wine, singing and having relations with girls. Tsangyang lived in a tent in the park near Potala Palace. He disappeared near Qinghai, possibly murdered, on his way to Beijing in 1706.
Religious Gate "Enlightenment" to Red Palace columns and beams carved with 5 objects of senses and images Buddhe. tablet reads Path to Perfect Spiritual Enlightenment; The 6th Dalai Lama composed poems and songs that have become popular in modern Tibet, and all across China.
7th Kelzang Gyatso (1708–1757) 7th Dalai Lama. Kelzang Gyatso was born in Eastern Tibet. At that time, the Dalai Lama's throne in Lhasa was occupied by Ngawang Yeshey Gyatso, who had been installed by Lha-bzang Khan as "the real 6th Dalai Lama" in place of Tsangyang Gyatso. Ngawang Yeshey Gyatso still held this position (though most Tibetans did not consider him the legitimate Dalai Lama) while a monk at Litang monastery, where he channelled Nechung Oracle, identifying Kelzang Gyatso as the reincarnation of Tsangyang Gyatso. Since this presented a contradiction of Lha-bzang Khan's choice, it was potentially dangerous to the child. Subsequently, the Tibetan leader of a delegation from Lhasa confirmed that the child was Tsangyang Gyatso's reincarnation and he was quietly taken to Litang monastery for protection. In 1715, the Kangxi Emperor sponsored Kelzang Gyatso's entrance into Kumbum Monastery. This entrance was marked by formal ceremonies due to a Dalai Lama and thus signified a public challenge to Lha-bzang Khan's Dalai Lama. He was ordained by Ngawang Lobsang Tenpai Gyaltsen. His reign started when he was 12.
Sacred mountains behind Lhasa- site of sky burials.
8th Jamphel Gyatso (1758–1804) 8th Dalai Lama. Born in 1758 in Upper Ü-Tsang region of Tibet his parents were originally from Kham. He was escorted to Lhasa and enthroned as leader of the Tibetan people in Potala Palace when he was 5. He built Norbulingka Park and Summer Palace in 1783 on the outskirts of Lhasa.
9th Lungtok Gyatso (1805–15) 9th Dalai Lama. He was the only Dalai Lama to die in childhood and was first of a string of 4 Dalai Lamas to die before reaching 22. During the period of the short-lived Dalai Lamas (9th-12th incarnations), the Panchen lama filled the void left by the four Dalai Lamas who died in their youth.
10th Tsultrim Gyatso (1816–37) 10th Dalai Lama. After Lungtok Gyatso died in 1815, eight years passed before the new Dalai Lama was chosen. The politics are murky, but finally Palden Tenpai Nyima intervened and used the Golden Urn (from which names of candidates were picked) for the first time as part of the tests for the choice of the new Dalai Lama. In 1822 the 10th Dalai Lama was placed upon the Golden Throne. He reconstructed Potala Palace and set about overhauling the economic structure of Tibet but, unfortunately, died soon after.
11th Khedrup Gyatso (1838–56) 11th Dalai Lama. He was recognised as Dalai Lama in 1840, having come from the same village as Kelzang Gyatso, 7th Dalai Lama. During his life, wars over Ladakh weakened the lamas' power over the Tibetan Plateau. The First and Second Opium Wars and Taiping Rebellion weakened Chinese influence on Tibet. In the last years of his reign the Nepalese invaded Tibet, but were defeated in the Nepalese Tibetan War (1855–1856). He died suddenly in Potala Palace.
12th Trinley Gyatso (1857–75), 12th Dalai Lama. His short life coincided with major political unrest among Tibet's neighbours. Tibet suffered from the weakening of the Qing Dynasty which had previously provided it with support against the British Empire. Tibet banned Europeans from entering the country because of wars Britain was fighting against Sikkim and Bhutan, both of whom were controlled to a considerable degree by the lamas in Lhasa. These wars were seen as efforts to colonise Tibet, something unacceptable to the lamas. Trinley Gyatso was enthroned as Dalai Lama 1873 but could not stamp his full authority on Tibet because he died of a mysterious illness 1875.
2 long bokchak of tiger skin pattern velvet hung on both sides main entrance DL chambers to symbolise power/ prestige
13th Thubten Gyatso (1876–1933) 13th Dalai Lama. In 1878 he was recognised as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. He was escorted to Lhasa and given pre-novice vows by the Panchen Lama, Tenpai Wangchuk, and enthroned at Potala Palace, but did not assume political power until 1895. Thubten Gyatso was an intellectual reformer and skillful politician. He countered the British expedition to Tibet, restored discipline in monastic life, and increased the number of lay officials to avoid excessive power being placed in the hands of the monks.
14th Tenzin Gyatso (1935-) 14th current Dalai Lama of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, formally headed by the Ganden Tripas. From the time of the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties. The 14th Dalai Lama was born in Tibet, and was selected as the tulku (reincarnation) of the Dalai Lama in 1937. His enthronement ceremony was held in Lhasa 1940, and he assumed full temporal (political) duties 1950, at the age of 15, after the People's Republic of China's incorporation of Tibet. The Gelug school's government administered an area roughly corresponding to the Tibet Autonomous Region just as the nascent PRC wished to assert control over it. During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India.
An interesting note; not only is the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama reborn, but so are their teachers. In theory they are reborn in different generations, so an older man can “teach” the younger one and he can learn about his former life. This was tricky at the time of the short lived Dalai Lama, but did work for the current one.

We went down, down, down, to leave the Potala complex, and had a reasonable view of the interesting Lhasa Zhol Pillar, which dates c764 AD and is inscribed with the oldest known example of Tibetan writing. The pillar contains dedications to a famous Tibetan general and an account of his services to the king inc campaigns against China which culminated in the brief capture of the Chinese capital Chang'an (Xi’an) in 763 when the Tibetans temporarily installed as Emperor a relative of Princess Jincheng Gongzhu (Kim-sheng Kong co), the Chinese wife of Trisong Detsen's father, Me Agtsom.
db8adee0-bbb8-11eb-a607-c7364b7cce25.pngChakpori/Chagpori Hill (Yao Wang Shan) Rising up beside Potala Palace, the spired peak of Chakpori Hill (Yao Wang Shan) is 3,725 m high. Looking over to the winding path to the top, one can see figures of Buddha, gods in different poses, and Buddhist scripture in Tibetan characters engraved on the cliff. There is a well preserved grotto with a history of over a thousand years on the southeast mountainside. There are 69 stone statues engraved on the rock. At the north foot of the Chakpori Hill is a spring named "Holy Water". During the middle of 17th century, in the early Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), a temple was erected on top of the Chakpori Hill. In this temple was placed a sapphire figure of a Tibetan Medicine King. Legend has it he was the avatar of Sakyamuni, able to treat patients no matter what the disease or how difficult the cure.

Also visible from the Potala is the Monument to the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet 2002 (51st anniversary 17-point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet). The 37-m concrete monument is shaped as an abstract Mt Everest and its name engraved with the calligraphy of former president Jiang Zemin, while an inscription describes the developments in Tibet in the past 50 years.

It had been a long morning, so we headed back to Barkhor to find somewhere for lunch. D recommended Lhasa kitchen and although the service was VERY slow it was tasty. S ordered some weird naan type thing, which he quickly regretted as it had sweet sour yoghurty stuff on.
Then it was a few minutes walk to Bharkhor Square to visit Jokhang Temple.

Jokhang Temple (Tsuglagkhang) is a fusion of Tang dynasty (618-907), Tibetan and Nepali styles and is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. The Tang Dynasty was characterised by economic prosperity and great progress in politics. China was considered the cultural and political centre of the world, and King Songtsem Gampo (617–50, 33rd king of Tibet/Tubo) wanted to develop friendly relations. He married Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty. When the two wives arrived there, each brought a statue of Jowo Sakyamuni (alternative name of Buddha, he was part of the Shakya clan). During this time, most people lived in tents and there were few palaces. To house the Buddha brought by Princess Wen Cheng, Songtsem Gampo constructed Little Jokhang (Ramoche). Princess Bhrikuti asked Gampo to build a Jokhang for her Buddha (Mikyoba Akshabhya) as well and in 647 the giant complex was built. The original complex included 8 shrines. After multiple renovations, most notably during the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the complex grew to today’s scale. The temple has been enlarged many times over the centuries and now houses statues of King Songtsan Gambo and his two famous foreign brides. However, the original statue of Jowo Sakyamuni Buddha that Princess Wen Cheng brought from Chang’an over 1300 years ago is definitely its most sacred and famous possession, and the most venerated religious artefact in Tibet. It was moved from Ramoche for its protection, and hidden in the Jokhang by Queen Wencheng. The image has remained in the Jokhang ever since (Jokhang or Jowokhang means chapel of the Jowo). The temple, a splendid 4-floor building facing west under a gilded rooftop, is on Barkhor Square in the centre of old Lhasa. Standing in Bharkhor square, one can view the entire complex. On the square there are two stele, one recording an alliance between the king of Tibet and the Tang emperor, the other portraying the teaching of the local people to prevent and treat smallpox. In the eastern section of the yard there are rows of votive lights, which provide a path leading all the way to the main hall. The main hall, over 1,300 years old, is the oldest shrine of the complex. Above the major entrance, there is a Dharma Wheel (chakra) flanked by 2 deer. This represents the unity of all things and symbolises Sakyamuni himself. On both sides of the passageway, paintings showing the building of Jokhang Temple, and renderings from the 7th century are adorned on the wall. The statue of Sakyamuni at age 12 sits in the middle of the hall. It has been gilded many times and decorated elaborately with jewels typical of Tibet. Statues of Songtsem Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng and Princess Bhrikuti are on the 2nd floor. On the top floor, there are four gilded bronze tile tops crafted in the emblematical Tang style. The statue of Sakyamuni is a rare treasure. When he was alive, he disagreed with 'personal worship' and did not allow likenesses of himself to be created. Only 3 statues, designed by himself, were permitted to be sculpted during his life-time. The first is a likeness of him at age 8; the 2nd at age 12 as a prince of India; and a 3rd as an adult. The statue in the Jokhang Temple is the statue at age 12.
1. Main gate
2. Kyamra Chenmo courtyard
3. Namtar Gosum Lhakhang (Buddha of Infinite Light)
4. Lutsang courtyard
5. Lutsang Gate
6. Chotrikhang
7. Drolma Lhakhang gate
8. Drolma Lhakhang
9. Nangkor
10. Sera Tago Khangsar
11. Sera Tago
12. Gate
13. Kitchen
14. Odepug gate
15. Ngakhang gate
16. Ngakhang complex (Chapel of 9 Buddhas of Longevity Tsepame; Chapel of 7 Buddhas)
17. Sungchora gate
18. Sungchora throne
19. Shira courtyard
20. Kitchen
21. Storage
22. Shira gate
23. Willow tree
24. Sin-Tibetan stele
25. Garage
26. Meru Nyingpa
A. 4 Guardian Kings
The Jokhang is also known in Tibetan as the Tsuglhakhang (chinese, Dazhao Si), the most revered religious structure in Tibet. Thick with the smell of yak butter, the murmur of mantras and shuffling of wide-eyed pilgrims, the Jokhang is an unrivalled Tibetan experience. For Tibetans the city’s 3 koras (pilgrimage circuits) are Nangkhor, Barkhor and Lingkhor, holding the key to the city’s soul. Remember- clockwise!

Jokhang Temple was built on the site of Lake Wothang. According to legend, the site was chosen after many failed attempts to build a temple; every time a monastery was built, it would collapse. Princess Bhrikuti turned to Princess Wen Cheng for help, who advised they must fill and level the lake using 1,000 goats to carry soil from a mountain far away. Princess Wencheng chose Lake Wothang (perhaps because she was upset at living in ‘barbarian’ Tibet). When the construction work was done, it was called Ra-Sa-Vphrul-Snang ('ra'= goat and 'sa'= earth in Tibetan, and etymologically associated with Lha-sa) to commemorate those goats. A well in the precincts of the Jokhang is said to still draws its water from the old lake. A sacred white goat soon entered the legend! We found a small image of the goat (a natural part of the stone and you need the torchlight to shine the exact right way, but belief is everything) peeking out from the Chapel of Jampa on the south wall of Jokhang’s ground floor inner sanctum. Whether the legend is true or not, Jokhang Temple brought Buddhism into Tibet and became an inseparable part of Tibetan history and culture. The city of Ra-Sa grew around the temple and over time, become known as Lhasa, holy land.

Exterior front
A wall encloses the front of the complex. The stumps of willows, contained within the enclosure, were planted by Queen Wen Ching at the time of its consecration. The willows are known as the Jowo Utra (‘Hair of the Jowo’). In front of the entrance to the Jokhang is a forecourt that is perpetually crowded with pilgrims polishing the flagstones with their protrations. Two doring (inscribed pillars) outside the temple, flanking its north and south entrances, are worshiped by Tibetans. The first monument, dated March 1794 was an edict known as the "Forever Following Tablet", and records advice on hygiene to prevent smallpox; some parts have been chiselled out by Tibetans who believed that the stone itself had curative powers. The second, far older, pillar is 5.5 metres high with a crown in the shape of a palace and an inscription dated 821 or 822. The "Tang Dynasty Tubo Peace Alliance Tablet" has an inscription in Tibetan and Chinese. It is a treaty between the Tibetan king Ralpacan and the Chinese emperor Muzong delineating the boundary between their countries. This Sino-Tibetan treaty reads, "Tibet and China shall abide by the frontiers of which they are now in occupation. All to the east is the country of Great China; and all to the west is, without question, the country of Great Tibet. Henceforth on neither side shall there be waging of war nor seizing of territory. If any person incurs suspicion he shall be arrested; his business shall be inquired into and he shall be escorted back”.

Ground Floor
We entered through the side gate to the open Shira Courtyard. It was through the far left corner (to ensure clockwise kora) that we entered the main temple. Just inside this entrance were statues of the Four Guardian Kings (Chokyong), 2 on each side. Beyond this was the main dkhang (assembly hall), a paved courtyard open to the elements, and during festivals this is the focus of ceremonies. The throne on the left wall was formerly used by the Dalai Lama.
Shira Courtyard and Assembly Hall
From here we took the left clockwise route round the inner prayer hall of the Jokhang which houses some important images and chapels. Most prominent are 6 larger-than-life statues that dominate the central prayer hall. In the foreground and to the left is a 6m statue of Guru Rinpoche. The statue to the right is of Jampa (Maitreya), the Future Buddha, with an ornate crown. At the centre of the hall, between and to the rear of these 2 statues, is a 1000-armed Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara). At the far right are 2 more Jampa statues, one behind the other, and to the far rear (you see it later), is another statue of Guru Rinpoche encased in a cabinet. Encircling this enclosed area of statues is a collection of chapels, which Tibetan pilgrims visit in a clockwise direction. Although there was a queue for the popular Chapel of Jowo Sakyamuni, we waited until we could enter. Pilgrims rub the doorways, walls, chain mail curtains, touch their heads to revered statues, throw seeds as offerings and pour molten yak butter into the heat of a 1000 prayer lamps. The chapels, following a clockwise route:-

Tsongkhapa was the founder of the Gelugpa order and he was seated in the centre of the Chapel of Tsongkhapa and His Disciples (1), flanked by his 8 disciples. Just outside was the large Tagba chorten. The 8 medicine Buddhas in the Chapel of the Eight Medicine Buddhas (2) are recent. The Chapel of Chenresig (3) contains Jokhang’s most imortant image after the Jowo Sakyamuni. Legend says the statue of Chenresig sprang spontaneously into being and combines aspects of King Songtsen Gampo, his wives and 2 wrathful protective deities. The doors of the chapel, fashioned by Newari artisans, are among the few remnants still visible of the Jokhang’s 7th century origins. This and the next 4 chapels are the most popular and all had queues.
Chenresig from Chapel 3
In the Chapel of Jampa (4) were statues of Jampa and 4 smaller bodhisattvas; Jampelyang (Manjushri), Chenresig (left), Chana Dorje (Vajrapani) and Drölma (Tara). Öpagme (Amitabha) and Tsongkhapa were also present, and 2 chortens, one of which holds the remains of the original sculptor. The image of Tsongkhapa is the Chapel of Tsongkhapa (5) was commissioned by the subject and said to be a perfect resemblance (central image on top of the steps of the wooden alcove).
The Chapel of the Buddha of Infinite Light (6) is the 2nd of the chapels consecrated to Öpagme (Amitabha), the Buddha of Infinite Light. The outer entrance, with wonderful carved doors, is protected by 2 fierce deities, red Tamdrin (Hayagriva, right) and blue Chana Dorje (Vajrapani, left). There are also statues of the 8 bodhisattvas. Pilgrims here pray for the elimination of impediments before viewing the most sacred image of the Jokhang, that of Jowo Sakyamuni, in the next chapel. On leaving, to our right were statues of King Songtsen Gampo with his 2 wives, and Guru Rinpoche (at the back).
The most important shrine in Tibet, the Chapel of Jowo Sakyamuni (7) houses the image of Sakyamuni Buddha at the age of 12, brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng. We entered via an anteroom containing the Four Guardian Kings, smiling (left) and frowning (right). Inside are
statues of protectors Miyoma (Achala) and Chana Dorje (Vajrapani, blue). Several large bells hung from the anteroom’s Newari-style roof. The carved door has been rubbed smooth by generations of pilgrims. The 1.5m statue of Sakyamuni is embedded with precious stones, covered in silk and jewellery and surrounded by silver pillars with dragon motifs. The silver canopy above was financed by a Mongolian Khan. Pilgrims touched their forehead to the statue’s left leg before being tapped on the back by a monk to move on. To the rear of Sakyamuni are statues of the 7th and 13th (moustache) Dalai Lamas, Tsongkhapa and 12 standing bodhisattvas. We had the 7th century pillars pointed out to us on the way out.
The Jampa (Maitreya or Future Buddha) enshrined in the Chapel of Jampa (8) is a replica of a statue that came to Tibet as part of the dowry if Princess Bhrikuti. Around the statue are 8 images of Drölma, a goddess seen as an embodiment of the enlightened mind of Buddhahood and one who protects against the 8 fears (hence the 8 statues). There are some fine door carvings here. On exiting we were surprised to see statues of the Hindu gods Indra and Brahma, though we could not find an explanation as to why!
In the Chapel of Chenresig Riding a Lion (9), the statue of Chenresig on the back of a sengye (snow lion) is first on the left (not the largest of the icons). Most of the other statues are aspects of Chenresig. Continuing upstairs, we spotted a small hole in the wall on the left, against which pilgrims place their ear to hear either the beating wings of a mythical bird or the lapping waters of Lake Wothang on which the Jokhang was built (we tried but it was too noisy to be certain).
Guru Rinpoche Shrine (10) contains 2 statues of Guru Rinpoche and 1 of King Trisong Detsen next to the stairs. Beside the shrine is a self-arising golden rock painting of the medicine buddha protected by a glass plate. Inside Tsepame Chapel (11) are 9 statues of Tsepame (Amitayus), the red Buddha of Longevity, in yabyum (sexual and spiritual union) pose. The Chapel of Jamba (12) holds the Jamba statue that was traditionally borne around the Barkhor on the 25th day of the first lunar month for the Mönlan festival. This yearly excursion was designed to hasten the arrival of the future Buddha. Jampelyang and Chenresig flank the Buddha. The chapel is also named Ramo Gyalmo (Chapel of the Sacred Goat) after the rough ‘self-arising’ (ie not human made) image of the goat emerging from the wall in the first corner beside Zhambhala, the god of wealth.
13th Dalai Lama
The Chapel of the Hidden Jowo (13) is where Princess Wencheng is said to have hidden the Jowo Sakyamuni for safe keeping after the death of her husband and the ensuing anti-Buddhism backlash; we saw the cavity on the eastern wall. Inside now is a statue of Öpagme (Amitabha) and the eight medicine buddhas with typical blue hair. The last of the ground floor chapels is Chapel of the Kings (14), with original statues of Tibet’s earliest kings. The central figure is Songtsen Gampo, flanked by Trisong Detsen and Ralpachen. Pilgrims touch their heads to the central pillar. On the wall outside was a mural of the original construction of the Jokhang and the Potala, alongside performances of Tibetan opera, yak dances, wrestling, stone weightlifting and horse racing.

First Floor
At this point we returned (clockwise) to the rear of the ground floor to climb the stairs to the upper floor. This inner sanctum is ringed with chapels. We passed several newly restored rooms that feature Sakyamuni (15,18), accompanied by his 2 main disciples and one with the Eight Medicine Buddhas (17). Lamrin Chapel (16), SE corner, features Pabonka Rinpoche, Sakyamuni Tsongkhapa and Atisha (Jowo-je).In the SW corner is Chapel of the Five Protectors (19) with fearsome statues of Tamdrin (Hayagriva) and other protector deities.
Next is the Chapel of the Three Kings (29), to Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen and Tri Ralpachen. It also contains statues of Songtsen’s 2 wives, various ministers and symbols of royalty such as the elephant and horse on either side.
Songtsen Gambo, Princess Wencheng, Princess Bhrikuti
The Chapel of Songtsen Gampo (21), was the principal Songtsen chapel in the Jokhang, positioned in the centre of the west wall (directly above the entry to the ground floor inner sanctum). A bejewelled king with a tiny Buddha protruding from his turban is accompanied by his Nepali wife to the left and Chinese wife to the right. Most of the other rooms were hidden behind grills, except the meditation cell of Chapel of Songtsen Gampo (22), which has an incredible carved doorway smeared with decades of yak butter. Murals to the right depict the Jokhang near an unusual row of carved beams that look like lion-monkey creatures. Back by the stairs notice the curved door frames of the Chapel of Guru Rinpoche (23) and Chapel of Samvara (24) showing Samvara with consort, both 7th century. In the south east corner, we went up a mezzanine to see 2 statues of the protectress Palden Lhamo, one wrathful (frog-faced), the other benign and a photo of the Nechung oracle. You can gain access to the Tantric Chapel on the 2nd floor from here.
We were then on the roof with stunning view over Barkhor Sq. The orange building on the north side once held the private quarters of the Dalai Lama. We finished with a walk around the Nangkhor pilgrim path which encircles the Jokhang’s inner sanctum, to see Drölma Chapel (25) featuring Drölma flanked by her green and white manifestations and others of her 21 manifestations; and Guru Rinpoche Chapel (26), a series of 3 interconnected shrines stuffed with images of Guru Rinpoche.
1. Secret chamber of auspicious objects
2. Chogyel Lhakhang (Songtsen Gampo chapel)
3. Access gallery
4. 14th C gallery
5. Closed stairs
6. Empty- formerly Jigje Lhakhang
7. Chogyel Zimpuk Lhakhang
8. Jowo Rinpoche chapel
9. Sheyre Lkakhang (note early murals)
10. Guru Tsakye Dorje Tsakhor Lhakhang
11. Staircase (access Pelha chok
12. Tubpa Tsokhor Lhakhang
13. wall

Buddhism takes Tibet
Demoness subduing Temples: Buddhism’s interaction with the pre- existing Bön, a shamanistic folk religion of spirits, ghosts and demons, combined with the wild and inhospitable nature of the Tibetan terrain, has led to many metaphorical fables about Buddhism’s taming of Tibet. The story of the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet is represented by the story of a vast, supine demoness whose body straddled the whole plateau. It was Princess Wencheng who divined the presence of this demoness. Through Chinese geomantic calculations she established that the heart of the demoness lay beneath a lake in the centre of Lhasa, while her torso and limbs lay far away in the outer dominions of the high plateau. The demoness can be seen as a symbol of both the physical hardships of Tibet, and the existing Bön priests hostility towards Buddhism; both had to be tamed before Buddhism could take root. It was decided that the demoness would have to be pinned down. The first task was to drain the lake in Lhasa of its water (ie. life-blood of the demoness) and build a central temple that would replace her heart with a Buddhist heart. The temple built was the Jokhang. A stake through the heart was not enough to put a demon of this size out of action and a series of lesser temples in 3 concentric rings, were conceived to pin down her extremities. There were 4 temples in each ring. The first are known as the runo temples and form a protective circle round Lhasa, pinning down the demoness’ hips and shoulders. Two are Trandruk Monastery (Yarlung Valley) and Katsel Monastery (en route to Drigung). The second group, the tandrul temples, pin down her knees and elbows. Buchu Monastery (Bayi, eastern Tibet) is one of these. The final group, yandrul temples, pin down the hands and feet. These last temples are in Bhutan (Paro and Bumthang), though the exact location is unknown.

We finished with a walk around the magnificent roof of the temple, both for its views and its own architecture.
Barkhor St Market is an area of circular (around Jokhang Temple) narrow streets and a public square in the old part of the city around Jokhang Temple and the most popular devotional circumambulation for pilgrims and locals. It is the oldest street in a very traditional style in Tibet, where you can enjoy bargaining with the local Tibetan vendors for handicrafts. Barkhor Street is one of the most important religious paths along which Buddhist pilgrims walk around Jokhang Temple while turning prayer wheels in their hands. They walk or progress by body-lengths along the street clockwise every day into the night. We entered from Barkhor Sq, and circled the entire Jokhang, the former seat of the State Oracle in Lhasa, Muru Nyingba Monastery, and nobles' houses Tromzikhang and Jamkhang. There were four large incense burners (sangkangs) in the 4 cardinal directions, burning constantly, to please the gods. Varied shops stand on its both sides and thousands of floating stands are on every corner. Most of them offer the prayer wheels, long-sleeve 'chuba' (Tibetan traditional clothes), Tibetan knives, religious articles and 'Thangka' (Tibetan scroll painting), which is a unique art of Tibet with the themes of religion, history, literature, science and customs.

Barkhor kora
Follow the mass of pilgrims, popping into several small but fascinating temples along the route. The first is Mani Lhakhang, a small chapel with an enormous prayer wheel, continuously in motion. To the right was the grandiose entrance of Nangtse Shar, the former city jail. Some 10m south was the entrance to the Jampa Lhakhang (Jamkhang/ Water Blessing Temple pic 3). The ground floor of this small temple had a huge 2-storey statue of Miwang Jamal (Future Buddha), rows of protector gods and a meditation cave. Pilgrims ascending to the upper floor were blessed with a sprinkle of holy water and the touch of a holy dorje (thunderbolt). Continue down the alley following the prayer wheels, into old Meru Nyingba/ma Monastery, a small but active monastery filled with Tibetans. It is administered by Nechung monastery, as it was the Lhasa seat of the oracle. Like the Jokhang, the building dates to the 7th century. On the west side of the courtyard, up narrow stairs, is the small Sakyapa-school Gongkar Chapel. Below is the Zhambhala Lhakhang with a central image of Marmedze (Dipamkara/Past Buddha). In the southeast corner is a wall shrine and dark hen (prayer pole), which marks the place where Tsongkhapa stood in 1409. On the southern side is Gendun Choephel Memorial Hall, a dull museum on an interesting guy! Choephel (1903-51) was a monk, poet, translator, sexologist, Sanskrit scholar and general non-conformist.

Meru Nyingba/ Muru Ningba or is a small Buddhist monastery located between the larger monasteries of Jokhang and Barkhor. It was the Lhasa seat of the former State Oracle who had his main residence at Nechung Monastery. It is located immediately behind and east of the Jokhang and may be accessed from the north side of the Barkhor.

Ramoche Temple (Xiao Zhao Si) is the most important temple in Lhasa after Jokhang. Situated 500m NW of Jokhang (whose companion it was built as), the temple was gutted in the 1960s and its famous bronze statue disappeared. In 1983 the its lower part was found in a Lhasa rubbish tip, and the upper half in Beijing. They have now been joined and the statue rehoused in Ramoche Temple. Following major restoration, the main building now has three stories.
The original complex has strong Tang architectural influences, for it was built by Han Chinese architects in the mid 7th century during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Princess Wencheng took charge of this project and ordered the temple erected facing east to China. Ramoche went through many reconstructions; only the Buddha palace on the first floor is in its original state. The present temple is the result of the large restoration of 1986. The main building has 3 stories. The first storey includes an atrium, scripture hall, and Buddha palace with winding corridors. On entering the main building, see the 10 pillars holding relics such as the encased lotus flowers, coiling cloud, jewellery and Tibetan Characters. The golden peak of the temple with the Han-style upturned eaves can be seen from any direction in Lhasa. One of the temple's prized artefacts was the life-sized statue of the 12-year-old Sakyamuni aka Jowo Rinpoche (now in Jokhang) brought by Wencheng from the Tang Dynasty capital Chang'an. As one of the precious cultural relics of Tibet, the statue is now in Jokhang Temple (Da Zhao Si). Residing instead within Ramoche Monastery is the life-sized statue of the 8-year-old Sakyamuni/ Jowo Mikyöba (Akshobhya) brought to Tibet by the Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti., this figure is regarded as the greatest saint in the monastery. When you leave, a doorway to the right by the yak-butter and juniper-incense stalls leads to the lively nearby Tsepak Lhakhang (Long-Life Shrine), with prayers filling the air. The central image is Tsepame, flanked by Jampa and Sakyamuni. Further on is Gyüme Tratsang, founded mid 15th century as one of Tibet’s foremost Tantric training colleges. The main dukhang has statues of Tsongkhapa, Chenresig and Sakyamuni. Behind the pillars are huge 2-storey statues of Tsongkhapa and his 2 main disciples, and next door is a fearsome statue of Dorje Jigje (Yamantaka). Upstairs is the famous speaking rock image of Drölma. Carrying on for 50m is Meru Sarpa Monastery with a very atmospheric chapel in the northwest corner. Look for the statue of 1000-armed Chenresig, an unusual frog-faced Palden Lhamo, and the preserved jaws of a gharial.

We enjoyed our wander, and our guide (with help from Achut) had arranged a complimentary show and meal (we’d asked about arranging one earlier, but had expected to pay). D collected us at 6:30 and we walked (quite a long way) to a locals place for a glorious meal and brilliant evening of dancing traditional Tibetan dances (most of which she explained) from Lhasa, Amdo and Kham. The shared food format was lovely- all round a traditional cook pot with loads of different meats and vegetables, all traditionally Tibetan. As it was a holiday week lots of children were there with their family; fascinated with our weird hair (blonde) and eyes (blue); one little lad kept coming back trying to speak Chinese to me (because I’m a foreigner and all foreigners speak Chinese, went his logic). It culminated with an interesting yak dance, 2 exuberant men in a yak skin leaping around the restaurant and charging the audience hohos rewarded them by tying white kata on the horns. They seemed all too happy to bury the yak head in my chest. Such fun!!
Tibetan Dance is called Guo-Xue or Guo-Zhuang. Folk dance is common to all Tibetans, with local varieties. “Guozhuo”is the name used in the Amdo regions of Eastern Tibet. One dance (bridging the religious-secular gap) was “laying the flagstones at Drepung“, a dance stylising the laying and yearly cleaning of the polished flagstones of the courtyard of the Dalai Lama’s palace at Drepung. The folk dance style used in Batang is Xiezhou. Men and woman dance face-to-face, to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument. Zhuoxie is another popular folk dance in the Lhasa/ Shannan areas. It is usually performed at ceremonies of blessings and for welcoming guests. While there are many forms of folk dance across Tibet, these three are the most widely used. The Tibetan way of life is reflected in their dance. Perhaps the most characteristic feature is the body’s forward tilt, accompanied by bouncing from the knees. This rhythm accompanies nearly every movement and stems from the daily custom of carrying water long distances from mountainous rivers to homes. Tibetan dance also has the unique trait of extending the arm and leg of one side simultaneously, rather than in the alternating fashion of walking. This harks back to the treacherous climbs in the Himalayas; to more efficiently travel on slanted mountain roads, Tibetan people carry their load on one side of the body to save energy on their daily journeys. Tibetan dances, especially for men, are known for their energy; vigorous jumps and turns performed with the characteristic high-heeled boots. In pastoral Guozhuang, dancers jump while waving their hands in front of their chests and step forward, and then turn left or right, their hands and feet moving in the same direction. The loose, wide trousers of the male dancers look like the feathered legs of eagles, and the men's movements are imitative of creatures, especially eagles spreading wings, hopping, and soaring. Women expose their right arms during dancing, with the right sleeve waggling behind.

Some interesting religious statues
368bd650-bbb9-11eb-a607-c7364b7cce25.pngBuddha Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha, who lived c600 BC. His images have little decoration and show him scantily dressed. The hair is typically blue, and the head surrounded by an enlightenment aura. He is depicted sitting, legs crossed in lotus position and has 32 marks on his body, including a dot between his eyes, the Wheel of Law on the soles of his feet, and a bump on the top of his head. Manifesting the “witness” mudra, he holds a begging bowl in his left hand and touches the earth with his right hand. His two favorite students often flank him on his right and left side.
375f52f0-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngMarmedze (Dipamkara) Past Buddha. Buddhists believe there has been a succession of Buddhas in the past. Buddha of the Present is Sakyamuni Buddha, and Buddha of the Future will be Bodhisattva Maitreya. Dipankara Buddha lived on Earth 100,000 years ago and was mentioned by Shakyamuni Buddha in sutras. Tibetans believe that Dipankara Buddha is one of the Past Buddhas. In Tibetan art, Dipamkara is usually depicted sitting, generally with Shakyamuni and the Maitreya Buddha. These 3 collectively are known as the Buddhas of the Three Times.
384f5840-bbb9-11eb-80a1-7324be1a2224.pngMaitreya Future Buddha According to Buddhism, Maitreya Buddha is the 5th Buddha who will appear in this Kalpa (era). Maitreya is believed to be the Bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, 4000 years after the death of Sakaymuni. He will achieve Nirvana and teach people the pure Dharma. He is usually seated, with a scarf around his waist, his legs hanging down and his hands by his chest in the turning of the Wheel of Law.
37bae070-bbb9-11eb-a607-c7364b7cce25.pngAvalokiteshvara- Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, most loved of the bodhisattvas. Through all schools of Mahayana Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara is venerated as the ideal of karuna (the act of compassion and willingness to bear the pain of others). He can appear anywhere, even hell, to help all beings in danger and distress. There are 108 (a sacred number in Tibet) different manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, but the most common is with 11 heads and 1000 arms (called Chenresig). On the palms of each of the 1000 hands is the eye of compassion. Its main distinguishing feature is Amitabha Buddha, pictured in his crown or as the last face at the top of the highest of his 11 heads.
36b53040-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngManjushri– Bodhisattva of Wisdom in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism. He is the bodhisattva associated with wisdom/awareness. In Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism is also the meditational deity (Yidam) of enlightened wisdom. Manjushri normally holds a sword in one hand, to cut off delusion, and Prajnaparamita Wisdom text in the other. Manjushri is a powerful image representing ever-present wisdom with the sword of awareness. In Chinese and Japanese art he rides a lion.
381387c0-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngTara, the female Buddha, aka Jetsun Dolma, is a female Bodhisattva associated with Tibetan Buddhism. She is the “mother of liberation” and represents the virtues of success and achievements. Her most popular forms are the White Tara and Green Tara. One of the main Tara practices in Tibet (and Bhutan) is Praises/ Homage to 21 Tara, practiced in all 4 traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. The Taras differ primarily by their foot placement; white Tara sits in meditation posture, and green Tara’s right foot rests on a small lotus flower. In the white Tara, we can see the open eye of compassion on her fore-head, her palms and her soles. Other symbols are the open white lotus (representing day) or the blue closed lotus (representing night). The hands with palms outwards, point in opposite directions: right one down (giving gesture), and left one up (protection gesture).
382d7860-bbb9-11eb-a607-c7364b7cce25.pngPadmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), 8th-C master of Buddhist tantra who brought Vajrayana to Tibet/ Bhutan. He is revered as one of the great patriarchs of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of the Nyinmapa tradition. According to Tibetans he is the embodiment of the Dharmakaya. Padmasambhava came from Uddiyana (Swat Valley), to Tibet during the reign of Emperor Trisong Detsen (742-97). He built Samye, the 1st Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Padmasambhava is depicted in 8 aspects; the most common are: sitting in a hat with upturned ear flaps and a spring at the top; with a beard and holding in his left hand a blood-filled skull-cup and in the right the Vajra; with his left elbow holding a magic wand whose tip is a flaming trident. He often appears with Yeshe Tsogyal and Mandareva, his spiritual consorts and disciples.
387f41e0-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngTsongkhapa Lobsang Drakpa, founder of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1409 he founded Gaden, the mother monastery of Gelugpa and started an annual prayer festival in Jokhang Temple. Tsong Khapa was born in Tsongkha valley, Amdo province. His birth was the culmination of a process of spiritual development that began in a previous life, at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. Tsongkhapa wears the Gelugpa yellow hat, his hands make the gesture of Dharmacakra-Mudra (Turning Wheel of Doctrine), and on his right and left sides, the sword (symbol of wisdom) and book supported by two lotus flowers.
38c8f510-bbb9-11eb-80a1-7324be1a2224.pngMarpa Lotsawa, main disciple of Naropa and lineage master of Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Marpa was born in Lhodrak Chukhyer, south Tibet. He was the 1st Tibetan member of the lineage. He made 3 trips to India and received all Naropa’s teachings, becoming one of his Dharma heirs. He returned to teach in Tibet, translating Buddhist scriptures into Tibetan. The image of Marpa Lotsawa appears aggressive. His natural look of power and strength frightened the people in his village and he was not welcome in many homes.
38d2e020-bbb9-11eb-a607-c7364b7cce25.pngJetsun Milarepa, the greatest yogi was born in the 11th C in Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in the 11th C in Gungthang, West Tibet. He was one of Tibet’s greatest poets and yogis. Milarepa is easy to identify as he holds his left hand to his ear to listen to the echoes of Nature, and a skull cup or begging bowl in his right hand.
4dad29b0-bbb9-11eb-80a1-7324be1a2224.pngThangthong Gyalpo was an important Shangpa Kagyu master, a famous civil engineer, doctor and artist. He was born in the late 14th century in Upper Tsang. He founded Ache Lhamo (Tibetan opera), and built numerous iron suspension bridges to ease travel and pilgrimage through the Himalayas. He established a song and dance troupe of 7 sisters to raise the money needed to build these bridges. Thangthong Gyalpo designed and built large stupas of unusual design including the great Kumbum Chorten at Chung Riwoche, Tibet, and Derge Gongchen Monastery, East Tibet. He is usually portrayed as a paunchy old man with brown or red skin in the lotus posture on a double lotus throne. He wears, like many yogis and Mahasiddhas, a white cotton garment, red cloak, meditation belt, jewel chain, earrings and bracelets with the flame jewel. In the left hand, he holds the skull cup, Thopa (Kapala) and nectar vase. The right hand, almost in ‘earth-touching’ gesture lies on top of the knee. A 5-link chain may be in his right hand. Only in a small sculpture in Merak, is he shown as a young man, holding the five link chain high above his head.
4dec5590-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngMahakala Nagpo Chenpo, a wrathful emanation of Avalokiteshvara, belonging to the Dharmapala, the protectors of the Buddhism. He is regarded as wish-fulfilling and one of the Eight Guardians of Buddhist law by Tibetans. Mahakala is one of the most important guardian deities of both the Karma Kagyupa school and most other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. There are 75 kinds of manifestations, and in wrathful emanations he appears with 1 face and 6 arms, standing up fiercely, black in colour with 3 round bulbous eyes, a large gaping red mouth with bared white fangs, yellow beard, eyebrows and hair flowing upward like flames. The right hand holds aloft a curved flaying knife with a vajra handle. The left holds a white blood-filled skull cup to the heart. Adorned with a crown of five dry white skulls, earrings, bracelets and a garland of freshly severed heads, he wears a great black cloak with a green jacket beneath. He stands surrounded by black smoke and faint red licks of the flames of pristine awareness.
4e1a6a70-bbb9-11eb-80a1-7324be1a2224.pngPalden Lhamo (Female Guardian) one of the more wrathful female deities of Buddhism, and the only female of the 8 Dharmapalas, and wrathful manifestation of Tara. Among her roles, she is one of the 2 state oracles of Tibet, special protector of Lhasa, the Gelukpa Order, and Dalai Lamas. She was invited to Tibet in the 11th century from India. Palden Lhamo appears in wrathful form, riding her mule through a sea of blood, surrounded by wisdom fire. Her son’s flayed skin is used as the saddle blanket on her mule. Around her waist is a belt hung with severed heads. She is surrounded by loops of a string made with 15 severed heads. In her navel is a bright sun disc. The violent images are understood by initiates as sacred symbols of inner transformation in a compassionate religious culture that shuns actions, thoughts or words that might be harmful to other living beings.
4e70c7d0-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngVajrapani Chan Dorje, Bodhisattva of power and energy, embodies the spiritual power of all the Buddhas. His name means “Wielder of the Thunderbolt” and he protects those who walk the Mahayana path, removing all inner, outer and secret obstacles. Enlightened eons ago, Vajrapani is said to have incarnated as one of Buddha Shakyamuni’s primary disciples. He is seen with Manjushri (embodiment of Buddhas’ wisdom) and Avalokiteshvara (embodiment of Buddhas’ compassion). Together these 3 bodhisattvas comprise the 3 parts of Buddha- nature and the 3 necessary ingredients for enlightenment. Vajrapani is depicted in warrior’s pose, one leg bent and the other outstretched. In his right hand he brandishes a vajra aloft, representing his diamond-like motivation and impetus to accomplishment. His left hand holds a lasso, to bind the demons of delusion. He has 3 eyes, symbolising his knowledge of past, present, and future. He wears a crown adorned with five human skulls, representing the five transcendent wisdoms. Around his neck is a garland of serpents, a reminder of his aspect as protector of the Nagas. He is clothed in a tiger-skin and surrounded by the blazing fire of exalted wisdom.
4ebcc4f0-bbb9-11eb-80a1-7324be1a2224.pngYamantaka Dorje Jigje is the most well-known protector of the yellow hat sect/ Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. He symbolises the ferocious emanation of bodhisattva Manjushree and is known as the destroyer of death and ego, which keeps us trapped in recurring misery, preventing us from bodhicitta. His simplest form has 1 bullhead and 2 blue arms. He sees the reality of the world through his 3rd eye and has a crown of skulls. He carries a chopper in his right hand and a skull cup in his left hand.
4ee73050-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngHayagriva Tamdrin is a wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. Hayagriva was originally the attendant of Avalokiteshvara. Hayagriva is associated with the Hindu god Vishnu. In Tibetan Buddhism he is always depicted with a crowned horse head and one wrathful red face. A tiger skin is around his waist with a garland of 52 chopped off heads. On his back are the wings of Garuda. In his 6 hands are a lotus, club sword, skull cup, snare and axe. Under his 4 legs are a sun disc and corpses.
4f6dec80-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngHeruka Chakrasamvara Demchok “Wheel of Perfect Bliss”, the most important Yidam (meditation deity) of the Highest Yoga Tantra of Vajrayana Buddhism. He is the primary Yidam of the Kagyu tradition which came to Tibet from Naropa, to his disciple Marpa, to Milarepa and thus to the various meditative traditions of the Geluk and Sakya sects. Chakrasamvara has with a blue body and 4 faces, each looking in one of the 4 cardinal directions and 12 arms, or in a simpler 1-face, 2-arm form. He is in union with his Wisdom Consort Vajravarahi who holds a skullcap in her left hand and a vajra chopper in her right behind his back. Their embrace symbolises the union of wisdom and skill, unity and diversity.
4d715930-bbb9-11eb-a607-c7364b7cce25.pngThe Four Guardian Kings are Indian gods incorporated into Buddhist narrative. Four Kings came to Shakyamuni Buddha just after he achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree and offered him, individually, black bowls of sapphire or lapis lazuli. The Buddha accepted the offer and the four bowls miraculously became one, the black bowl typically seen in the lap of Shakyamuni. Often found at entrances of monasteries and believed to be Mongolian in origin, they protect the four cardinal directions: east king Dritarashtra (Tibetan Yul Khor Srung) is white and has a lute; south king Virudhaka (Tibetan Pag Pi Kye Bo) is blue and has a sword; west king Virupaksha (Tibetan Chen Mizang) is red and has a thunderbolt; north king Vaishravana (Tibetan Nam To Se) is yellow and has a banner of victory and a jewel-spitting mongoose. He is also regarded as the god of wealth and depicted riding a snow lion.
4fb3cf20-bbb9-11eb-a607-c7364b7cce25.pngDharma King Songtsen Gambo, considered a manifestation of Avalokitesvara and one of the 3 great ancestors of Tibet. He married Buddhist princesses Brikuti Devi (Nepal) and Wencheng (Tang dynasty). Both brought a holy statue of Buddha Shakyamuni to Tibet as their dowry. Jokhang and Ramoche temples were built in Lhasa to enshrine the statues. Songtsen Gambo sent his minister Sambhota to India to learn Sanskrit, and on his return he developed a Tibetan script to enable Buddhist scriptures to be translated into Tibetan. He made the law of 10 positive deeds and 16 humanitarian deeds. He is pictured with Buddha Amitabha on his head. His statues are placed most temples, palaces and monasteries in Tibet.
4fab43a0-bbb9-11eb-80a1-7324be1a2224.pngDharma King Trisong Detsen, considered a manifestation of Manjushiri, the Buddha of wisdom. He is the 2nd of the 3 great ancestors of Tibet. During his rule Tibet was militarily powerful and he expanded his territory. He strongly supported the development of Buddhism in Tibet. He organised debate between Bon and Buddhist masters, and chose Buddhism as the main religion of Tibet. Trisong Detsen invited famous Indian Buddhist masters like Padmasambhava and abbot Shantarakshita. At Samye the first 7 monks of Tibet received their Buddhist vows.
4fddec60-bbb9-11eb-9292-23bf59558f2e.pngDharma King Trirelpa is the 3rd of 3 great ancestors of Tibet. He ruled Tibet during the 9th century. He was crowned instead his older brother as he was more dedicated. Trirelpa contributed greatly to the development of Buddha Dharma by setting up Buddhist learning and meditation centres. He made laws to let families support a monk and excused monks from paying military taxes. His respect for monks was so high he let monks sit on his long hair. Because of his support for Buddhism his ministers killed him and put his non-Buddhist older brother Utun Tsenpo/Langda Ma on the throne. He is believed to be a manifestation of Vajrapani, the Buddha of energy.

King Gesar is a popular tale from Tibet (and Mongolia), and is on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The epic dates to 11th-13th century. When sung in Tibet, it is accompanied by a lute made of a cow horn. The epic is rich in content, its structure and musical composition are complex. Normally, episodes from the story are sung by travelling minstrels who recount the history of the Tibetan people. The King Gesar story is one of the most popular epics, deeply rooted in the Tibetan community especially in eastern Tibet. The epic has a rich diversity of expressions: singing, dialogue, explanations by means of illustrations, etc. He is also considered as a manifestation of Padmasambhava who came to Tibet in the eighth century to subdue demons and sow the seed of Dharma. He defeated many kings of different kingdoms including Gurkar of Hor kingdom. To Tibetans, he is the manifestation of Buddhas and a national hero.
Potala palace details

Posted by PetersF 07:41 Archived in China Tagged buddhism tibet lhasa potala jokhang

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