Gu Ge

Tibetan Texts > Specific Tibetan Text Studies > Deb Ther Sngon Po (blue Annals) > Reference Resources - The Blue Annals > Place Names Cited in Blue Annals > Place Names Ka-kha-ga-nga > gu ge

Guge (གུ་གེ་)

by Christopher Bell

General information

NameGuge (གུ་གེ་)
Transliteration formgu ge
Etymologyplace name of ancient etymology.
Source of informationDung dkar blo bzang 'phrin las. 2002. Dung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang.
Vitali, Roberto. 1996. The Kingdoms of Pu.hrang: According to mNga'.ris rgyal.rabs by mkhan.chen Ngag.dbang Dharamsala: Tho ling gtsug lag khang lo gcig stong 'khor ba'i rjes dran mdzad sgo'i go sgrig tshogs chung.
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Spatial LocationLatitude: 31.27°, Longitude: 79.40°
ProvinceTibetan Autonomous Region (Tib. བོད་རང་སྐྱོང་ལྗོངས་; Ch. 西藏自治区)
DistrictNgari (Tib. མངའ་རིས་; Ch. 阿里); Zanda County (Tib. རྩ་མདའ་རྫོང་; Ch. 札达县)
Cultural locationWestern Tibet
Location's languageWest Tibetan Dialect (nga' ris skad [?])
Blue Annals References(37, 643). Despite the importance of Guge in early Tibetan history, its appearance in the Blue Annals is quite scant, referring mainly to the lineage of minor kings after Lang Darma that established kingdoms in the west, including the region of Guge.

Historical Summary

The region and ancient kingdom of Guge is especially important around the start of the Tibetan renaissance. It is here in the west of Tibet that the last hereditary vestiges of the Tibetan dynasty established a weaker series of hegemonies prone to in-fighting during the period of fragmentation (bsil bu'i dus). During a degree of stability in the 11th century, the king of Guge, Lha Lama Yeshé Ö, invites Atīśa to Tibet in order to reform the Buddhist tradition that had grown corrupt. In The Blue Annals, this is the only detail concerning Guge that is given attention, while Lha Lama Yeshé Ö is lauded for this reason. The minor kings of this kingdom are also enumerated. For a detailed treatment on Guge, the various kingdoms associated with it, and its history from the period of fragmentation to the 15th century, see Vitali 1996.

Translation from the Dung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo

In addition to being the location where the Guge Dynasty existed, the region of Guge belongs to the class of protected national cultural relics. It is also classified as the very important remains of ancient constructions of the Ngari district. Nowadays, it exists within Zanda County of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. In antiquity, its ancient name was “Zhang Zhung,” and prior to the establishment of the dynasty of Tibetan kings, the Zhang Zhung Dynasty had already existed at this place. In the ancient Chinese history books, it was also called “Yangtong” (羊同). Later commentaries concerning this must consider that it’s called “Zhang Zhung.” Guge is southwest of Ngari district, and its western, southern, and northern sides are adjacent to China and Kashmir. Its eastern and southern sides are adjacent to Gar County and Puhrang County of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. This place is the source of the Ganges River. The land area of all its counties is 22,500 square kilometers, and its Tibetan population is more than 4,549 (in 1983). Its total agricultural population is 2,904, and it has about 1,944 acres of arable land. That comes to 63 percent of the total human population, or 0.8. The pastoralist population is about 727; that comes to 16 percent of the total human population. The area of forests is a little more than 65 acres; that comes to 1/4 of the total area of forests in the entire district. Among its 75 monasteries, 6 are Nyingma, 12 are Sakya, 20 are Kagyü, 35 are Geluk, 1 is Bön, and 1 is of uncertain religious affiliation. Even though the population of monks and nuns at the other monasteries is an issue that has not been explored, in the time of Desi Sanggyé Gyamtso [sde srid sangs rgyas rgya mtsho; 1653-1705] there were 725 monks at the Geluk monasteries, as stated in [his history on the Geluk tradition] the Bai ḍūr ser po [The Yellow Lapis Lazuli]. At the time of the regional Tibetan governments prior to [the unified government of the Fifth Dalai Lama], this area was divided into both Tsahreng (རྩ་ཧྲེང་རྫོང་) County and Tapa (མདའ་པ་) County. Nevertheless, after Tibet became peacefully liberated, the two counties were combined and this was established as an administrative district with the category of county called “Zanda County.” (Dung dkar 2002, p.494)