The White Annals

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To get access to this special FP Premium benefit, subscribe by clicking the button below. By Thomas E. Ricks June 29, , AM. Thomas E. Ricks covered the U. The Tibetans had strong physique. Those who were strong-spirited were called rgyal. Males were termed as pho. The king was designated as rGyal-pho and his queen as Mo- sman. Ministers of the Interior were addressed in accor- 48 The White Annals dance with rank, as 'Superior' or 'Inferior' minister. Dwelling places were accommodated in houses or sbra-nag, a tent composed from the fur of black yaks. Kings and the nobility resided in tents, some of which could easily accommodate a few hundred people.

Other high-ranking government officials were allotted individual tents of their own. The lifespan of the Tibetans is reputed to exceed a hundred years of age. Attire of Tibetans consisted of robes derived from animal skins and women endowed themselves with red dyes on their cheeks. Meals were spread on carpets on the floor gden-sha : carpet meat.


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This custom still prevails during certain state functions. Most of the food was consumed from wooden plates encased in leather. Drinking vessels were composed from barley; a composite paste from barley was first made and allowed to dry. The hardened barley was then hollowed out to take the shape of a cup, and it was in these cups that milk and other beverages was taken, after which the barley cup was consumed too. In certain state ceremonies called Chas-zhoags, a similar adaptation was pursued whereby a leaf, shaped like the Forpas Tibetan cup and called Go-ra, was issued from the private kitchen of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Gold and silver ornaments were in wide usage. Gold, silver, copper and lead were the minerals to be found in abundance in Tibet. Men wore decorative emblems on their arms, to distinguish their rank in the social hierarchy. Houses had level roof-tops. Barley, wheal and peas were the staple crops cultivated. Yaks, sheep, pigs, ewes and horses were maintained in a domestic house hold.

Earth burial prevailed in early times. As yet, Tibet had no written script of her own and calculations were charted through symbolic allusions: either, signs were drawn on a wooden slate, or with the assistance of knots on a thread.

At every subsequent distance of a hundred le- bar. Though there were no written statutes, the king was the chief arbiter of justice. The White Annals 49 Punishment for minor offences was severe. Punishment for major offences was still harsher, witnessed in the extraction of eyes for males and the mutilation of nose and limbs for females. These corporal acts were abolished during Khri-srong's reign under pledge of oath according to the rBa-bzhad. It was customary for guests to bring with their entourage a yak, which was later shot down with arrows.

The dead yak would then be shared among the host and guests and the heroes were accorded respect. Filial relations were strong: the son revered his father, and the mother, her son.

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A general aspect of family mores was one in which the young were accorded more respect than the older generation. During journeys the young walked in advance, with the elderly following. As part of their attire, males adorned themselves with daggers, bows and arrows. A careful emphasis was placed on the manner of death.

Great priority was given to death on battlefield; victims of such a death and their families were lauded much respect. Conversely, natural death was treated with contempt. In the event of several deaths of family members on the battlefield, a coat of mail was attached to the houses as a mark of respect and honour.

Military codes followed a strict pattern and the weapons that were used were of a superior nature. At the onset of battle, a golden arrow was shot in the air, an opening ceremony to alert the military forces that battle was about to begin. Tibetan armies were organised into two divisions: if the armies on the front line of a division were routed, the armies on the rear replaced them, and thus it became difficult for the'enemy to resist the reinforcement. The arrival of enemies was often inter-communicated by the presence of camp-fires. The vanquished were humiliated by the compulsive wearing of foxtails on their heads.

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In those days, although there was no monetary allowances for the soldiers, this was supplemented by the spoils of loot 50 The White Annals and plunder. Each year the king and his ministers gathered together In an oath-taking ceremony. On these occasions, the sacrificial offerings included sheep, dogs and monkeys.

In the event of the death of the king, those having undertaken the pledge simultaneous with the king sought their own lives and were buried with their monarch. The cultivation of plants would ensue and each year rites were performed as offerings. An old Chinese legendary tale, rendered into an alien language imparts certain interesting observations on a Tibetan queen whose name was not discernible.

This tale tells us that the Tibetan queen adorned herself in a dress known as 'stod-thung' or shirt of a dark-blue hue, with wide sleeves that almost flowed to the floor and that she wore a chemise of black silk.

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Her hair was decorated in several little braids and she wore A-long ear ornaments and shoes called Zo-'i. During the winter, she catered to furs of a variety of colours. At the time of her death, her body was anointed with gold dust and enclosed in an iron vessel. Such was the Chinese legend, and we find in the rBa-bzhad, social history that corroborates the Chinese legend As to the mineral wealth of the country, gold was to be found in abundance.

A Ta-zig history, 'U-dul A-pa-lam gives an elaborate account of the various principalities of Tibet where gold was to be found. However, the names of the places are neither distinct nor intelligible.

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It further says: "there being so much gold reserves in Tibet, it was mined from the caverns in quantities as large as the head of a sheep. The reasons for this behaviour is unknown. In bringing to light the social customs of the past, we have to depend solely upon foreign accounts. In fact certain customs vis-a-vis dress styles were scarcely written about 52 The White Annals by its own people.

And perhaps years from the present, future generations will be ignorant of our manner of attirement. This, that the Mind has drawn on the void space. Is the extremely wonderful Magic Chronicle of the Kings. Our history prior to this date was preserved through the media of oral traditions and due to this fact, a comparative chronology of dated history is inapproachable.

Confusing and out dated though it may be, I have recorded below the story of King gNam-ri, as annotated during the life-span of his son. But before Zing-po-rje could be avenged of his misdeeds, the Tibetan king passed away and the task of retribution became the legacy of his successor, gNam-ri srong-btzan.

Armies were launched and 'Phan-yul was successfully brought under control. This military exploit was followed by the subjugation of the gTzang regions.

Moreover, the rebellious Dhags-po people were curtailed by Seng-go mi-chen. From the facts at our disposal, we find that gNam-ri srong-btzan was the forerunner to unify and rule over the Yar lung and Dhags-po regions of Lhoka. Previous rulers had, for the most part, minimal control over small portions of Yar-lung. A clarification should be made here vis-a-vis the title of King gNyan-khri btzan-po as the king of the entire region of Tibet.

The only method of classification is through the application of appropriate nomenclature over those regions by which the king had extended his jurisdiction by means of force. It should also be mentioned that the name Bod-Khams was at that period applied to a very limited territory. Chief Zing- po-rje resided at Nyen-kar rting-pa, while 30, of his subjects headquartered at Yu-sna of sPur-ba. Zing-po-rje had a doubtful personality and was blasphemous in his conduct.

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To him good was evil and evil good; he rarely sought the advice from those who could be trusted, but turned to those flatterers who only effected a superficial regard for his person. He acted against all norms of moral conduct. Every subject became displeased with the Chief. Our government is not what it should be. Our religion is not the one it ought to be. The countrymen have become impoverished.

The efficacy of the administration has fallen. The latter, morally weakened through severe chastisement, resigned himself to the mischievous deeds of his chief and he too embarked on a career of malpractices. This greatly pleased the evil chief who remunerated 'Dzi-zung with lower kLum-ya-gsum which was demarcated by mKar phur- ba a palace together with the districts of sTag-skya-bu and yul-yal-rab sde bzhi, inhabited by 30, subjects of Zing-po-rje. There was a certain servant called Myang- tseng-sku who was allocated as personal attendant to 'Dzi-zung.

You are unworthy of serving him.