The Mongolian Advance into Amdo from the Reign of Altan Qaγan and the Rapprochement between Local Amdo Tibetan Chieftains and the Dalai Lama’s Gelukpa Sect: The Case of the Lords of Zina in Xi’ning 西寧
025 , 2016-03
This article examines the relations between Mongolia and Tibet during the first half of the 17th century, focusing on the lords of Zina 西納, a clan of Amdo Tibetans surrounded by the three forces of Ming dynasty, Central Tibetans, and Mongols.From the reign of Altan Qaγan (1507–82) on, the Right wing of Mongols, which have migrated to the Amdo region in northwestern Tibet, formed monk-patron relations with the Gelukpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and contributed to the formation of the Dalai-Lama Administration in Central Tibet.Since Amdo was situated on the border with China, the Ming Dynasty had established there in the 14th century as native officials tusi土司 by Ming dynasty of indirect rule through local chieftains, including the lords of Zina. The Right wing of Mongols who advanced into Amdo attacked the indigenous Tibetan population and seized their herds.The lords (tusi) of Zina fended the Mongols off with military assistance from the Ming Dynasty and thus formed China’s frontline of defense against the Mongols. On the other hand, once having pledged their patronage to the Gelukpa Sect, the Mongols assumed an attitude of peace towards the lords of Zina, who were also followers of Tibetan Buddhism, albeit of the Sa-skya-pa sect.Then under the religious influence of the Mongols, the lords of Zina grew closer to the Gelukpa Sect and lent it economic assistance in its missionary activities in the Amdo region.By maintaining their military alliance with the Ming Dynasty and utilizing the monk-patron relationship between the Mongols and the Gelukpa Sect, the lords of Zina conducted a triangulated policy of diplomacy that guaranteed their survival.Within the Mongols advance into the Amdo region, the activities of the lords of Zina, who formed links with the Gelukpa Sect in Central Tibet, offer the historian an extremely interesting case when considering the origins of the relations between Amdo and central Tibet after the formation of Dalai-Lama Administration.