Sunday, 31 July 2011
Wencheng , The Princess that transform Tibet
Tubo Dynasty of Tibet
The people of Tibet were once known as the Tubo dynasty people. Under the leadership of Songtsan Gambo, the empire was once powerful that they expanded themselves and were able to challenge the Tang dynasty empire of China. The Tang dynasty was considered China's Golden Age. The dynasty was the most prosperous and strongest and many things flourished in China during the Tang dynasty.
King Songtsan Gambo
King Songtsan Gambo once dreamed of a Tang dynasty princess who seemed like she was a fairy sent down from the heavens to him. This was probably a foretelling of the princess he will marry in the future. As the saying goes, great men think alike. He had always admired Tang Emperor Li Shimin very much for his boldness & vision. King Songtsan Gambo wanted to be like him and hence attacked Tang China. He had some minor victories but was later met with a crushing defeat which had almost resulted in him losing his empire. King Songtsan Gambo was an expansionist during his early leadership. The reason for why he had launched an invasion against Tang China was because he had demanded by means of force and threats that Tang China send a princess for him to marry. Despite King Songtsan Gambo's defeat, Tang Emperor Li Shimin was still gracious enough to marry a Tang Princess to him. A contest was held in the palace where a lot of suitors of Princess Wencheng gathered. Many people had sent in their representatives for the contest. The Tibetans won the contest just as the Emperor has expected them to win.
Young Princess Wencheng
Princess Wencheng was 16 years old when she was married to King Songtsan Gambo. She played an important role as a diplomat and ambassador of the Chinese to the Tibetans. She ensured peace and harmony between the Chinese and the Tibetans as well as infusing Chinese cultural influences into Tibet. Princess Wencheng was like a godsend to him. During the journey from Tang China into Tibet, Princess Wencheng brought along crops and vegetable seeds to grow in Tibet. She taught the locals to grow vegetables,corps, grind wheat flour and make wine. As a token of gratitude, in all of the places that she had been to her footprints were craved into rocks for worshiping. Princess Wencheng had also introduced carriages, horses, donkeys and camels, as well as medical works and various kinds of farming and industrial techniques into Tibet. Under her direction, the Tubo Kingdom experienced fast social and economic progress. Through Princess Wencheng, friendship was promoted between Tibet and Tang China. Economic and cultural exchanges also resulted from this marriage.Princess Wencheng also had the Ramoche Monastery built. She named the eight surrounding mountains the Eight Treasures, a name which is still in use today.
Princess Wen Chang and Buddhism in Tibet
Princess Wencheng was a devoted Buddhist. King Songtsan Gambo was eventually converted into Buddhism by her. Together with his first wife, Bhrikuti Devi they established and spread Buddhism around Tibet.
Before Princess Wencheng arrived, Buddhism was not common in Tibet. However after Princess Wencheng came into Tibet, Buddhism flourished in Tibet and since then every Tibetan have embraced Buddhism.
Changes and Reformations
To please and comprise Princess Wencheng, King Songtsan Gambo did many things. The Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery or Tsuklakang was built to celebrate his marriage with Princess Wencheng. The Potala Palace and the city of Lhasa were also built for her sake. As Princess Wencheng was uncomfortable with the Tibetans' custom of painting their faces red, King Songtsan Gambo put a stop to this practice for good. The Changzhug monastery in Nêdong is also connected with Princess Wencheng, as in one of its chapels, there is a tangka embroidered by Princess Wencheng. Through Princess Wencheng, King Songtsan Gambo learnt and imitated much of Chinese governing. He also sent children of his empire into the China schools to learn classics and invited learned scholars from China to compose official reports for him to the Emperor.
Importance of the Marriage
Ever since being married into Tibet, Princess Wencheng devoted herself into loving the people of Tibet. Princess Wencheng was thus perceived as a goddess to the people of Tibet. Together with King Songtsan Gambo's Nepalese Wife, Bhrikuti Devi, they were viewed and believed to be the incarnation of Goddess of Compassion which is the female aspect of Chenrezig known as Tara (Tibetan: Drolma) Dolma, or Drolma (Sanskrit Tara). King Songtsan Gambo's wives were being worshiped under the name of Dol-kar of the white Dolma for Princess Wencheng and Dol-Jang or green Dolma for the Nepalese princess. The latter is prayed to by women for fertility.
Much of the Chinese ethnic culture and influences brought into Tibet by Princess Wencheng are still deeply rooted into the Tibetan culture as of today. Princess Wencheng is still a very iconic figure to people of Tibet even till today.
Impact of Princess Wencheng
The relationships between Princess Wencheng and King Songtsan Gambo have been translated into some local tales and folklore which played important roles to the Tibetans. Years later after the death of Princess Wencheng, another Tang Princess by the name of Jincheng was married into Tibet. She had a temple of Princess Wencheng built to commemorate her. This Temple of Princess Wencheng stands today as a symbol of friendship and exchange between the Han and Tibetan ethnic groups. The temple of Princess Wencheng is one of the most famous and a must see place in Tibet. It is located in Kham, 20km south of Jyekundo.
Videos on Princess Wencheng & Songtsan Gambo