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Ganden Phodrang
StatusProtectorate of the Khoshut Khanate
Protectorate of the Dzungar Khanate
Protectorate of the Qing dynasty
Protectorate of the People's Republic of China
Common languagesTibetan
Tibetan Buddhism
GovernmentTibetan Buddhist Sacerdotal state
Spiritual and Secular
lugs gnyis (dual order)
Dalai Lama 
• 1642–1682
5th Dalai Lama (first)
• 1950–1959
14th Dalai Lama (last)
• Established
• Disestablished
CurrencyTibetan currency

The Ganden Phodrang or Ganden Podrang (Tibetan: དགའ་ལྡན་ཕོ་བྲང, Wylie: dGa' ldan pho brang, Lhasa dialect: [ˈkɑ̃̀tɛ̃̀ ˈpʰóʈɑ̀ŋ]; Chinese: 甘丹頗章; pinyin: Gāndān Pōzhāng) was the Tibetan system of government established by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1642, after the Oirat lord Güshi Khan who founded the Khoshut Khanate conferred all temporal power on the 5th Dalai Lama in a ceremony in Shigatse in the same year. Lhasa again became the capital of Tibet, and the Ganden Phodrang operated until the 1950s. The Ganden Phodrang accepted China's Qing emperors as overlords after the 1720 expedition,[1] and the Qing became increasingly active in governing Tibet starting in the early 18th century. After the fall of the Qing empire in 1912, the Ganden Phodrang government lasted until the 1950s, when Tibet was annexed by the People's Republic of China. During most of the time from the early Qing period until the end of Ganden Phodrang rule, a governing council known as the Kashag (established by the Qing in 1721) operated as the highest authority in the Ganden Phodrang administration.


"Ganden Phodrang" originally referred to the residential quarters of the Dalai Lama lineage at Drepung Monastery since the 2nd Dalai Lama. When the 5th Dalai Lama came to power and the expansion of the Potala Palace began, the Dalai Lama moved away from the actual quarters Ganden Phodrang and stayed at the Potala in the winter and Norbulingka in the summer. According to some, the Ganden Phodrang is represented by the Central Tibetan Administration or Dalai Lama's government-in-exile in Dharamshala, India after 1959. However, this is "Ganden Phodrang" in a different sense, the personal service or labrang of the Dalai Lama.

Ganden (དགའ་ལྡན) is the Tibetan name for the Tushita heaven, which, according to Buddhist cosmology, is where the future Buddha Maitreya resides. Phodrang (ཕོ་བྲང) means palace, hall, or dwelling.


The Potala Palace in Lhasa.


Altan Khan of the Tümed Mongols chose the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism as his Buddhist faith. In 1577 he invited the leader of this order, Sonam Gyatso, to come to Mongolia and teach his people. He designated Sonam Gyatso as "Dalai" (a translation into Mongolian of the name Gyatso, meaning "ocean"). As a result, Sonam Gyatso became known as the Dalai Lama. Since this title was also posthumously given to Gendun Drup and Gendun Gyatso, who were considered Sonam Gyatso's previous incarnations, Sonam Gyatso was recognized as being already the 3rd Dalai Lama.

Mongol protectorate

The 5th Dalai Lama (r. 1642–1682) is known for unifying the Tibetan heartland under the control of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating the rival Kagyu and Jonang sects and the secular ruler, the Tsangpa prince, in a prolonged civil war. His efforts were successful in part because of aid from Güshi Khan, the Oirat leader who established the Khoshut Khanate. With Güshi Khan as a completely uninvolved patron, who had conferred supreme authority on the Dalai Lama for the whole of Tibet at a ceremony at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse,[2] the 5th Dalai Lama and his intimates established a civil administration which is referred to by historians as the Lhasa state. All power and authority lay in the hands of the Dalai Lama right up to his death and Güshi Khan did not interfere in the administration nor tried to control its policies.[3] The core leadership of this government is also referred to as the "Ganden Phodrang" or "Ganden Podrang", derived from the name of the estate of the Dalai Lamas at Drepung Monastery.

The 5th Dalai Lama initiated the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa on the site of the Red Fort, and moved the centre of government there from Drepung. It remained the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

From 1679 to 1684, the Ganden Phodrang fought in the Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal War against the Namgyal dynasty of neighboring Ladakh, with the 5th Dalai Lama overruling the advice of his Prime Minister.[4]: 349 The 5th Dalai Lama died in 1682 and the subsequent Prime Minister, Desi Sangye Gyatso,[4]: 342: 351 agreed on the 1684 Treaty of Tingmosgang with the King Delek Namgyal of Ladakh to end the war.[4]: 351–353[5]: 171–172 The original text of the Treaty of Tingmosgang no longer survives, but its contents are summarized in the Ladakh Chronicles.[6]: 37: 38: 40

The Dzungar–Qing Wars (1687–1757) between the Dzungar Khanate and Qing China had a major impact for Tibet. While the military landscape of Inner Asia in the late 17th century was dominated by the conflict between the Dzungars and the Qing, the Ganden Phodrang regime was also involved in the war because of its religious role, which was sometimes disingenuous.[7] In 1705, the Qing conspired with a Dzungar faction to kidnap the 6th Dalai Lama, after the murder of his regent and government official. Due to these actions, Tibet's relationship with the Mongols declined in popularity.[7]

Qing protectorate

Main article: Tibet under Qing rule

In 1717, the last khan of the Khoshut Khanate, Lha-bzang Khan, was killed by the Mongol Dzungar Khanate forces invading Lhasa. The Dzungar forces were in turn expelled by the expedition forces of the Qing dynasty from Tibet in 1720, thus beginning the period of Qing rule of Tibet. Tibet was a protectorate of the Qing while remaining a priest and patron relationship. The Qing dynasty exerted military and administrative control over Tibet while granting it a degree of political autonomy.[8]

The Kashag, the governing council of Tibet that lasted in Lhasa until the 1950s, was created in 1721 by the Qing. The council was to govern Tibet under the close supervision of the Chinese garrison commander stationed in Lhasa, who quite often interfered with the decisions of the Kashag, especially when Chinese interests were involved.[9]

Soon after 1727 the skilful and politically astute Tibetan leader Pholhane reorganized the administration and army with Qing's support.[7] After the death of Pholhane in 1747, his son Gyurme Namgyal moved to end the cooperation with Qing China by trying to expel the last of their troops from Lhasa, whose numbers varied over the decades. He was murdered by two Qing China ambassadors (ambans) in 1750, both of whom were killed by Gyurme Namgyal's army during the subsequent riot in Lhasa.[7] After the riot, Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty sent an army to Tibet and reorganized the Tibetan government in 1751, including the Kashag which was further set by the Qing.

In 1788, problematic relations with Nepal led to wars with Nepal. Tibetans requested Qing intervention, which resulted in the Sino-Nepalese War. After the war, Nepal also agreed to accept the suzerainty of the Chinese emperor. Qing also issued the "Twenty-Nine Article Imperial Ordinance of 1793", which was designed to enhance the ambans' status, and ordered them to control border inspections, and serve as conduits through which the Dalai Lama and his cabinet were to communicate with the Qing emperors. The Golden Urn system was also instituted in this degree, although the system was not always used (in such cases the amban was consulted).

By the mid-19th century, Chinese hegemony over Tibet became weaker. In 1841-1842, the Tibetan army defeated the Sikh Empire's Dogra forces in the Dogra–Tibetan War, leading to a treaty agreeing on status quo ante. In the third Nepalese war (1855–1856) Tibet was defeated by the Nepal, but the resulting Treaty of Thapathali included provisions for mutual aid against aggressors.[10][11]

The first Europeans to arrive in Tibet were the Portuguese missionaries António de Andrade and Manuel Marques in 1624. They were welcomed by the King and Queen of Guge, and were allowed to build a church and to introduce the Christian faith. The king of Guge eagerly accepted Christianity as an offsetting religious influence to dilute the thriving Gelugpa and to counterbalance his potential rivals and consolidate his position. All missionaries were expelled in 1745.[12][13][14][full citation needed]

Post-Qing era

Main articles: Tibet (1912–1951) and Annexation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China

After the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, which ended Qing rule over Tibet, the 13th Dalai Lama declared himself ruler of an independent Tibet. It was considered by the Republic of China as a part of the new republic, which gave Tibet the status of an "Area".[clarification needed] With its proclamation of independence and conduct of its own internal and external affairs in this era, Tibet is regarded as a "de facto independent state" during this period.

This would last until the 1950s, when Tibet was annexed by the People's Republic of China. The Kashag state structure remained in place for a few years but was formally dissolved in 1959 after the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The Tibet Autonomous Region was established by China in 1965 out of a part of the Tibetan ethno-cultural area. The Central Tibetan Administration was established by the 14th Dalai Lama and based in McLeod Ganj India since 1959.

See also



  1. ^ Laird, Thomas (2007) [2006]. The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama. New York: Grove Press. p. 226. ISBN 9781555846725. Retrieved 13 November 2022. The Manchu, or Qing, Empire became Tibet's overlord in 1720 when it installed the Seventh Dalai Lama, but this relationship was not rigorously defined and the Manchu made no move to absorb Tibet as a province.
  2. ^ Shakabpa 1984, p. 111.
  3. ^ Shakabpa 1984, p. 124.
  4. ^ a b c Ahmad, Zahiruddin (1968). "New light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal war of 1679—1684". East and West. 18 (3/4): 340–361. JSTOR 29755343.
  5. ^ Petech, Luciano (1977). The Kingdom of Ladakh: C. 950–1842 A.D. Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente. ISBN 9788863230581.
  6. ^ Lamb, Alastair (1965), "Treaties, Maps and the Western Sector of the Sino-Indian Boundary Dispute" (PDF), The Australian Year Book of International Law: 37–52
  7. ^ a b c d Alice Travers and Solomon George FitzHerbert,"Introduction: Ganden Phodrang's Military Institutions and Culture between the 17th and 20th centuries, at a Crossroads of Influences", Revue d'Études Tibétaines, mars 2020, Asian Influences on Tibetan Military History between the 17th and 20th Centuries, Paris, No. 53.
  8. ^ Cheng, Hong (2023), The Theory and Practice of the East Asian Library, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN 978-1-5275-9202-5
  9. ^ Norbu, Dawa (2001), China's Tibet Policy, Routledge, p. 76, ISBN 978-1-136-79793-4
  10. ^ Compare: Tirtha Prasad Mishra (21 March 2011). "Une évaluation critique du traité tibéto-népalais de 1856" (in French). Retrieved 13 November 2022. Le Népal se place donc en protecteur du Tibet (prenant ainsi la place de la Chine) et doit théoriquement l'aider en cas d'agression extérieure. [...] Malgré tout, tant le Tibet que le Népal cherchent à maintenir les relations existantes: pour l'un le traité est une marque d'indépendance, pour l'autre c'est la marque d'une gloire qu'il ne veut pas voir disparaitre.
  11. ^ Smith, Warren W. (31 July 2019) [1996]. Tibetan Nation: A History Of Tibetan Nationalism And Sino-tibetan Relations. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781000612288. Retrieved 13 November 2022. [...] assistance by Nepal to Tibet, whether under the Nepalese-Tibetan treaty of 1856 or not [...].
  12. ^ Lin, Hsiao-ting (December 2004). "When Christianity and Lamaism Met: The Changing Fortunes of Early Western Missionaries in Tibet". Pacific Rim Report (36). University of San Francisco. Archived from the original on 2010-06-26.
  13. ^ "BBC News Country Profiles Timeline: Tibet". 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
  14. ^ Stein 1972, pg. 83