Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布

A Tubo Zanpu who combined with the Tang Dynasty


Chinese Name: 松赞干布

English Name: Songtsen Gampo

Other Names: Qizong Nongzan 弃宗弄赞, Qizong Nong 弃宗农

Born: 617

Died: 650


Unify Tibet and officially establish the Tubo Dynasty 统一西藏,正式建立吐蕃王朝

Reform the political and military systems 改革政治、军事制度

Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布
Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布

Brief Biography of Songtsen Gampo

Songtsen Gampo is the 33rd Zanpu of the Tubo Dynasty, the ruler of the Tubo Dynasty.

During his reign (629-650), he moved his capital to Luoxie 逻些 (now Lhasa 拉萨, Tibet 西藏), pacified the Tubo civil strife, subjugated Yangtong 羊同, unified Tibet, and formally established the Tubo Kingdom ruled by slave owners. He developed agricultural and animal husbandry production, promoted irrigation, ordered people to formulate words, and issued the “grand decree” to govern Tubo, so as to deal with the relationship between the Zanpu royal family and aristocrats, small states, and various social strata.

Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布
The statue of Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布塑像

He created administrative and military systems, set up official ranks, issued decrees, and unified the system of measurement and taxation, which promoted the comprehensive development of Tubo’s politics, economy, and culture, and established Tubo’s political, and military systems. He also introduced Buddhism from the Tang Dynasty and India.

In the 15th year of the Zhenguan Period (641), Songtsen Gampo went to Baihai 柏海 (now the Lake of Eling 鄂陵湖 in Qinghai 青海) to marry Princess Wencheng 文成公主, a daughter of the Tang Dynasty 唐朝. Tang granted him the title of Emperor Fuma Duwei 驸马都尉 and Prince of Xihai 西海郡王. Songtsen Gampo sent aristocratic children to Chang’an to study Chinese culture and poetry. He asked the Central Plains literati to take charge of his poems. During Emperor Gaozong’s reign in the Tang Dynasty 唐高宗, Songtsen Gampo offered 15 kinds of gold, silver, and jewelry, promoting the exchange of Han and Tibetan cultures.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

His childhood

In the first year of the Yining reign of the Sui Dynasty 隋朝 (617 years), Songtsen Gampo was born in the Jiangbamujueling Palace 降巴木决岭王宫 (now located in Jiama Township 甲玛乡, Mozhugongka County 墨竹工卡县, Lhasa City 拉萨市). His father, Nangri Songtsen 囊日松赞, was the 32nd generation of Zanpu in the Tubo Dynasty. When he was 3 years old, his father led the army to destroy the Supi tribe 苏毗部落, unify the Tibetan plateau and leaped from a small state leader in Shannan to the monarch of all Tibetan tribes.

According to Tibetan legend, he was intelligent, calm, and versatile from childhood, so he was honored as Songtsen Gampo. Some historical records also praise him as a smart and talented hero who is “generous and talented”, and “excellent in martial arts”. The reason why Songtsen Gampo became such a person is inseparable from his family and the edification and education he received.

Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布
Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng 松赞干布和文成公主

He is the only son of Nangri Songtsen 囊日松赞, the legitimate successor of Tubo Zanpu, and his family and Tubo subjects place high hopes on him, hoping that he can bring greater happiness and development to the country and people.

Since his childhood, he has received strict training in riding and shooting, fencing, martial arts, etc. After the age of ten, he has become a warrior with superb martial arts. In terms of cultural accomplishment, he can recite Zanpu’s lineage and is very familiar with historical hero legends. He likes Tibetan folk songs and is good at poetry creation. He often improvises poems at banquets and his works are the earliest in Tibetan literature works.

Admire the Tang Dynasty and propose marriage

After calming down the civil strife, conquering the Qiang people 羌, and reunifying Tibet, the politically farsighted Songtsen Gampo sent envoys to neighboring Nibora 泥婆罗 (today’s Nepal 尼泊尔) to trade with each other, promote handicrafts and hire craftsmen and artists to teach architecture, painting and carving skills; On the one hand, he got in touch with the Tang Dynasty. The close and friendly friendship between the Tibetan and Han nationalities was concluded and developed.

At that time, under the rule of Li Shimin 李世民, an outstanding statesman and militarist in China’s history, the Tang Dynasty in the Central Plains summarized the historical experience and lessons, implemented a series of policies conducive to the national economy and the people’s livelihood, and promoted the high development of social economy and culture. The national strength was strong, and the prestige was far and wide. A prosperous era of “Zhenguan governance 贞观之治” emerged.

Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布
The picture of Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng 松赞干布和文成公主的图片

Songtsen Gampo had a profound admiration for the prosperous Tang Dynasty. In the eighth year of Zhenguan 贞观 (634), he sent envoys to Chang’an to make an appointment with the Tang Dynasty. Tang Taizong 唐太宗 sent envoy Feng Deya 冯德遐 to pay tribute by letter. Songtsen Gampo was very happy to see Feng Deya. He heard that both Tujue 突厥 and Tuyuhun 吐谷浑 had married a princess of the Tang Dynasty, so he sent an envoy to follow Feng Deya into the court, sent gold treasures, and presented a proposal.

Die Young

In the first year of Yonghui 永徽 (650 years), Songtsen Gampo died at the age of 34. There are different opinions about the cause of his death: First, Princess Chizun was infected with the plague and passed it on to him; Another said that Songtsen Gampo was assassinated by Bon believers who hated Buddhism.

Songtsen Gampo 松赞干布
Li Shimin 李世民

In the following year, with a very grand funeral, the Tubo built a very tall tomb for Songtsen Gampo between the Tombs of the Tubo Emperors in Qiongjie 琼结, called “Murimubo 木日木波”.

Video: The short biography of Songtsen Gampo

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