Bringing Puzzles Together: Revisiting the Records on the Relations of Tibet and the Neighbors in the 17-18th Century

Title: 1307 | Bringing Puzzles Together: Revisiting the Records on the Relations of Tibet and the Neighbors in the 17-18th Century
Area: China and Inner Asia
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Soyoung Choi, Seoul National University, South Korea (organizer, chair)
Hojung Lee, Gangneung-Wonju National University, South Korea (presenter)
Jubong Choi, Seoul National University, South Korea (presenter)
Sungje Yoon, Seoul National University, South Korea (presenter)
Hyun-jung Kim, Seoul National University, South Korea (presenter)
Daeyeon Yook, Seoul National University, South Korea (presenter)


It is said that historians believe in the Evil Nature Principle when they survey the historical records of the past. Historical records are usually written neatly in books which look old and trustful but the writings were strongly influenced by the authors’ origin, religion and other personal traits. Therefore, historians read between the lines carefully and even look at the records upside down. The most popular method is to bring records on same topic by different authors and compare them line by line. This is useful and effective regardless of periods and areas for historical research but the method is almost indispensable in the study of the history of Central Eurasia since the seventeenth century. It was a tripartite game; the Manchus held sway politically, the Tibetans took power spiritually and the Mongols in between did not quietly stand aside. Sometimes the three waged wars, sometimes formed coalitions and sometimes even built the priest-patron relationships, forming a triangle. For the historical events happened among them, their records were often disparate with each other and sometimes one mentioned the events while the others kept silent.
This panel is going to survey several topics regarding Tibet and its neighbors in 17-18th century by examining sources of different authors and languages in order to bring the puzzles together to shed more light on the subjects.

Panel Abstracts:
The Costume of the Tibetan Empire: Originality and Exchange
Among Tibet’s diverse cultural spheres, costume is an element which reflects their unique spirit and aesthetic consciousness. For a comprehensive understanding of Tibetan costume culture, this paper focuses on the costume culture of the Tibetan Empire period, when Tibetan military might was at its zenith. Actually, the name “Tibet” is said to have been derived from this era of glory. Based on this background, I would like to examine the characteristics of costume worn during the Tibetan Empire when it was a superpower, and consider how the sociocultural environment and cultural exchanges with neighboring countries influenced the costume of this time. Many studies related to the Tibetan Empire that have been published in Korea so far either examined the Tibetan Empire’s costume culture as one of China’s ethnic minorities’ mere variation in a theoretical context, or fleetingly mentioned the costume worn by figures of the Tibetan Empire that appear in paintings or murals. Hence, I proceeded with this research based on the hypothesis that the costume of the Tibetan Empire era reflects the unique characteristics of Tibet, not as just one of China’s ethnic minorities. Also, I will approach the costume of the Tibetan Empire using both literature and visual material, further analyze the exchanges in costume with the Tang Dynasty as well as the changes and transitions that may have occurred as a result.

The Ambivalence of the Last Great Khan of the Mongols: Ligdan Khan, the Evil or a Chakravartin?
After the Great Khan’s return to Mongolia in 1368, the position of Great Khan of the Mongols did not cease to exist. In the early seventeenth century, the last Great Khan Ligdan (r. 1604-1634) took an aggressive stance against other Mongol tümens (myriarchies) striving for the reassertion of Great Khan’s authority. In 1634, Ligdan died of an illness during the campaign against Tibet and the following year his widow and son surrendered to Jurchen Han Hong Taiji(r. 1626-1643). Due to this event, Hong Taiji proclaimed himself the legitimate successor of the state(törü) of the Mongol’s Great Khan. Ligdan Qaγan, like the most of last rulers, was depicted as a cruel despot under Manchu rule. In addition, the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat Sect) of Tibetan Buddhism who were on hostile relations with Ligdan regarded him as an evil ruler. Thus, not only Manchu and Chinese records, but also a number of Tibetan records and Mongolian chronicles projected a negative image of Ligdan. On the contrary, Ligdan was highly praised as a holy Chakravartin in line of Chinggis Khan and Qubilai Qaγan in the colophon of the Mongolian Ganjur(Buddhist canon). By examining the contradicting descriptions about Ligdan, this talk will correct one-sided point of view and reveal the Last Great Khan’s multi-faceted aspects.

Reconsidering Ḵwāja Āfāq’s Activities at "The City of Jū"
There is a famous well-studied story of an Islamic Sufi leader Ḵwāja Āfāq(d. 1694) going to the city of Jū(Lhasa) and soliciting the fifth Dalai lama(1617-1682) for his help against his political enemies – fellow muslims – and contributing to the Dalai lama’s follower Ġaldan Bošuġtu xān(1644–1697)’s conquest of the Altišahr region. In recent studies the general conclusion was that the record is a legend story rather than a historical material. So the researches were more focused on catching undertone or political context around the story. In this re-presentation of the story, I will focus on his itineraries to east which are written in both Chagataid and Chinese hagiographical records. Even though Ḵwāja Āfāq’s journey was not included in his contemporary chronicles, the journey does not look like a wanderer or exile’s, but were closely related to important commercial routes in the middle of 17th century. And more will be revealed about the geopolitical background which gave birth to the story of his activities in “the city of Jū".

On the Grammatical Classification of Tibetan -pa s
The explanations on –pa, -po/-ba, -bo/-ma, -mo(below: -pa) in Tibetan language varies depending on the grammarians’ view. Hahn(2016) defines –pa, -po/-ba, -bo(the allomorph of -pa, -po)/-ma, -mo/-ka, -ko as ‘Nominal particle’, whereas Park(2014) defines –pa, -po/-ba, -bo/-ma, -mo as suffixes which are attached to nouns or adjectives, verbs. The reason why Hahn(2016) defines –pa as a kind of particle seems to be that he might have adopted a view that Tibetan-Burmese are agglutinative languages. However, this view has a problem because it does not take the characteristics of particles into consideration. Particles are found in agglutinative languages like Korean and Japanese. In the previous researches, there have been many discussions whether nominal particles are actually affixes which are attached to nominal roots. The basic characteristic of particle is that it is attached to nouns or pronouns, numerals so that marks the grammatical relations with following words and adds special meaning on them. On the other hand, affixes including suffixes can be attached to both nouns and predicates and add or focus special meaning on the attached words, then have a function of making new words. In these respects, -pa should be classified as suffixes. For example, when –pa is attached to tshong(business), its meaning becomes ‘a merchant’. So new word has been derived from –pa. Moreover, when –ba is attached to mthong(to see), its meaning becomes abstract nouns like ‘seeing’ or a doer like ‘a person who sees’. Particles do not permit this kind of derivational creation of word meaning.

In Memory of Güshi Khan: Re-evaluation of Güshi Khan’s Political Importance and Establishment of Khoshud Genealogy in the 18th Century Amdo
In the mid-seventeenth century, Güshi Khan of Khoshud Mongol conquered Tibet and aided the 5th Dalai Lama gain his sovereignty over the realm. To many, political significance of Güshi Khan and his successors were not much more than the benefactor of Dalai Lama and Geluk school. However, intellectuals of the 18th century Amdo, which was the political base of the Khoshud princes, thought otherwise. After the so-called “rebellion” of Lobsang Danjin in 1723, sovereignty of Amdo passed from Khoshud princes to the Qing dynasty, but the Khoshuds were able to retain their status within the banner system. Under their patronage, religious and scholarly activities of the Buddhist monasteries in Amdo flourished. Intellectuals wrote about the history of Amdo, and regarded Güshi Khan as a central figure in the history of 17th century Tibet. In their hands, Güshi Khan was placed as Dharma-King, succeeding the lines of Khubilai and Altan Khan. Moreover, they established the vast genealogy derived from Güshi Khan and connected to contemporary Khoshud princes, thus attributed the glory of Güshi Khan to their own benefactors.This paper will examine the way how Güshi Khan’s lineage was remembered to the intellectuals of the 18th century Amdo, which I would hope to help further understand the identity and cultural dynamics of Amdo

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