13.9. History and Features of the Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries in the Nangchen Area

Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic


the Institute of South and Central Asia, Charles University

cordially invite you to a lecture

History and Features of the Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries in the Nangchen Area

by Liu Kuo-wei (Library of Taipei National Palace Museum)

Kham (khams) was traditionally referred to as Chushi Gangdruk (chu bzhi sgang drug), i.e. ‚four rivers and six ranges‘. Since the Ming Dynasty, their sovereignty was often encroached upon and marginalized by both Tibetans to the West and the Han Chinese to the East. Among the various small kingdoms in Kham, the five main independent regions were Chakla (lcags la), Derge (sde dge), Lingtsang (gling tshang), Nangchen (nang chen) and Lhathok (lha thog). The present day Yushu (yul shul, 玉樹) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is the main area being ruled by the king of Nangchen (Nang chen rgyal po) since the 18th century. Therefore, this area is still traditionally called by many Tibetans just as Nangchen.

In 1958, the Prefecture had only three counties: Yushu (yul shul, 玉樹), Zaduo (rdza stod, 雜多), Nangchen (nang chen, 囊謙). These three counties are the constituents of the former Nangchen kingdom. The area was not under direct domination by the Gelugpa order in Lhasa. Nowadays, this Prefecture is divided into six counties: Yushu, Zaduo, Nangchen, Chengduo (khri ‚du, 稱多), Zhiduo (‚bri stod, 治多), and Qumalai (chu dmar leb, 曲麻萊).

Historically, this area had a strong relationship with the Barom Kagyu School, the sub-sect being instrumental in establishing the esoteric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism at the Tangut court before the destruction of that state in 1226. The Nangchen king’s family also formed close ties with other Kagyu sub-schools. Approximately since the nineteenth century, there are four major Kagyu monasteries maintaining direct relationship with the Nangchen king. Except for the Stag-lung Kagyu School, almost all Kagyu sub-schools are widespread in Nangchen, such as ‘Bri-gung Kagyu, ‘Brug-pa Kagyu, Karma Kagyu (with its two further branches- Surmang Kagyu and Nendo Kagyu), and the almost died out Yerpa Kagyu. Among the one hundred and three Kagyu monasteries in the Qinghai province, there are ninety-three within the Yushu Autonomous Prefecture.

In this presentation, I would like to discuss the historical development of the Nangchen area, the features of Buddhist monasteries there, and their present situation.


When: Thursday, September 13, from 13:00

Where: FF UK, Celetná 20, room no. 427

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