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Ancient Sea, Monkey and King

Qomolangma(8,844.43 meters),the highest peak in the world. Photo by Chen Zonglie.

The Tibetan Plateau, known as the Roof of the World, is the place where people of the Tibetan ethnic group live and multiply.
Here Was a Stretch of Ancient Sea Originally
The plateau used to be a part of the ancient sea, but became land when the waters receded during the late Eocene Epoch about 10 million years ago. The rise of the Himalayas, and behind the towering mountain ranges the Tibetan Plateau, was one of the greatest events in world geological history.

the unearthed cultural relic in the Lhasa Qugong Village ruins: An earthen monkey face. Photo by Chen Zonglie.

Although it this occurred somewhat during the Cenozoic Era, the origins cam be traced back the Mesozoic and Paleozoic eras. According to the continental drift theory, the Indian continental plate drifted northward and came into violent collision with the Eurasian Plate. As the land was forced upwards, the ancient seas drained off to the east and west to expose what became the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

A flock of monkeys busy learning the art of survival,able to walk erect and speak; their tails gradually became shorter until they disappeared...
Photo by Chen Zanglie.

The Himalayas have been rising ceaselessly. The average elevation was about 2,000-2,500 meters, with a few peaks rising to 3,000 meters or so during the Pliocene Era about 10 million years ago. At this time the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau even had a period of tropical and semi-tropical climate. Until three million years ago, the Himalayas never rose above a height of 4,500-5,000 meters.

A part of the fangka painting.Once upon a time,acting according to the will of a goddess a monkey married a Raksasi and they had six children who were all monkeys. Photo by Chen Zonglie.

Subsequently, because the mountains continuously grew and continued to rise towards the sky, forming the lofty mountain body barrier of the Himalayas that we know today, the warm and wet monsoon air from Indian Ocean could no longer pass through and that drastically altered the natural environment of the southern and northern slopes of mountain ranges. Great changes took place in terms of animal and plant life and the climate. While the late Ice Age and Middle Ice Age climatic patterns emerged frequently, the Plateau climate developed continuously in the direction of dry and cold weather.

The Tibet Plateau has a human-inhabited history of at least 50,000 years. Stone implements of the late Paleolithic Era were found in the eastern, southern and northern parts of the plateau; the ruins of the Neolithic Age were even richer, like the famous Karub ruins in Qamdo, Lhasa Gongqu Village ruins and so on. The Tibetan ethnic group are the descendants of those ancient people, who lived in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau during the Neolithic Age.
Tale of Monkey Evolving Into Man
There is a tale of a monkey becoming man in Tibet and this story was recorded in the Stories of the Tubo Kings.

Tangka painting that displays the story of Woberu,the first tsampo (King),who was carried Woberu on their shoulders to the tribe and thus become the first Tsampo of the Tubo Kingdom.

Long, long ago, the Goddess of Mercy sent a deity-incarnated monkey to Tibet to practice Buddhism. When it was successful in its Buddhist studies, a female rock deity, who was living nearby, said to him in an adoring tone: ¡°Let¡¯s marry¡±. The monkey replied: ¡°I was the lay Buddhist incarnation of the Goddess of Mercy. If I serve as your husband, I will have broken my religious vows.¡±

¡°If you refuse to be my husband, I will simply die in front of you,¡± the female rock deity said as she lay down in front of the monkey:

¡¡¡¡¡¡Oh! My great monkey king
¡¡¡¡¡¡Please listen to me some words!
¡¡¡¡¡¡I am reincarnated in succuba by destiny,
¡¡¡¡¡¡And only love you, love burgeoning,
¡¡¡¡¡¡Adoration makes me beg you.
¡¡¡¡¡¡If I could not marry you,
¡¡¡¡¡¡I have to follow the devil away in the future,
¡¡¡¡¡¡Hurt several million living things each day,
¡¡¡¡¡¡Devour thousands of living things each night,
¡¡¡¡¡¡And give birth to countless young devils,
¡¡¡¡¡¡To fill the snowy region,
¡¡¡¡¡¡Make it the town of devils,
¡¡¡¡¡¡And the devils will eat all living things.
¡¡¡¡¡¡So pray have mercy on me.

The monkey asked the Goddess of Mercy for instructions. The Goddess of Mercy approved and the monkey married to the female rock deity who gave birth to six young monkeys. They were incarnated into new bodies six times:

The young monkey reincarnated from hell was able to endure hardship with a dark black face; The young monkey reincarnated from the place of the starving ghost was greedy for food and drink and had an ugly face; The young monkey reincarnated from the place of livestock was stupid and lazy with a headstrong temper; The young monkey reincarnated from this world was informed, careful and curmudgeonly; The young monkey reincarnated from the non-heavenly region was healthy and strong, but jealous. The young monkey reincarnated from the place of the heavenly god was thoughtful and shrewd and had a good temper.

The six young monkeys were sent by the father monkey to a place called Niaojiling that was rich in fruits.

Three years later, the father monkey went to see them. It found that the number of young monkeys had risen to 500, the fruits on the tree were all devoured, and they had nothing to eat and were very miserable.

The father monkey went to ask the Goddess of Mercy for instructions. The Goddess of Mercy rose to her feet and fetched from the crevice of the Sumeru Mountain the five innate cereals: qingke barley, wheat, bean, buckwheat and barley germ, and scattered them on the earth and made them proliferate as self-generating cereals, adding: ¡°Help yourself!¡±

After this, the young monkeys were satiated with the cereals. Both the hair on their body and their tails became shorter, and they gradually learned to use language to communicate and accordingly became human. The Tibetans think that they are the offspring of the monkey and the female rock deity.

Though this story was covered with Buddhist colors, it was transmitted very early and widely. There was some unearthed earthen monkey faces in the Neolithic ruins found in Lhasa Gongqu village. They took the monkey period as an era in history that the ancient Tibetan themselves related. After this there came into being Masang and his eight brothers such as the night demon, evil, monster, dragon, lauding deity, god of heaven, god of wood, ghost and demon, namely the era of gods and spirits reigning. Many years later, the era of man¡¯s reign began. There were four large clans, the Ser, Mo, Tung and Tong, which multiplied into six large phratries. The population of the Tibet Plateau also increased rapidly. There came into being 12 small states and then 40 small states, which were scattered all over the Tibet Plateau.

Nyitri Tsampo King
By about the 3rd century AD, several big states had come into being. There was the Zhangzhong State in northwest Tibet, where the early religion--the Bon religion, which ¡°offered sacrifice to the gods in the heaven, subdued the ghosts and monsters under the earth and prospered the people¡¯s residence in the middle¡± and paid great attention to ceremonies like sacrifice--was born. Its doctrines were transmitted in the forms such as tale telling and riddle guessing.

The first Tsampo (king) of Tubo kingdom:Myitri Tsampo.

There was the Supi State in the middle part of Tibet. The Yarlung State came into being in the present Yarlung River valley, namely the Shannan region. Generally speaking, the history of the Tibetan race began from the Yarlung River Valley.

The ancestors of the Yarlung tribe engaged in hunting, grazing and farming. During the struggle with nature they learned to make a bow and arrow, sword and axe, and some simple production tools. The development of agriculture helped the Yarlung River Valley prosper, but the six dispersed tribes still didn¡¯t find a satisfactory leader.

One day, while the people of the tribe were grazing on the Harigyangdo Mountain near Zetang, a strapping, dignified young man suddenly appeared. As the tribesmen asked where he came from, he pointed behind him where lay the blue sky. The people of the tribe didn¡¯t understand, and sent for twelve knowledgeable persons, good at fortune-telling and observation, to interrogate the intruder. In the end, they understood he came from the heaven, and was the son of the heavenly God and was intended to be their chief according to the mandate of heaven.

Everybody jumped like sparrows for joy, saluted him and presented flowers to him. They carried him on their shoulders to the tribe and allowed him to be the first Tsampo (king) of the Tubo Kingdom. Because he was carried to the tribe by people whose shoulders served as his seat, everyone called him Nyitri Tsampo (meaning the hero regarding the neck as his throne)

Actually Nyitri Tsampo was born in Bo¡¯ao, in the east of Tibet. His mother gave birth to nine children, the youngest of whom was named Woberu and had such a very big tongue that it was said it could cover his face. There were webs between his fingers like a duck. As the child grew up, he became unsurpassed in physical prowess. The people of his hometown suspected that he was the incarnation of the devil, Tairan and drove him away. The young man left his hometown in sorrow and never expected to become leader of the Yarlung River valley.

Because Nyitri Tsampo came from the place named Bo¡¯ao, he regarded ¡°Siboye¡± as his own king lineage. In order to develop vigorously the Yarlung tribe, he increased the production of agriculture and herds, grew grains, and bred many livestock. Meanwhile he looked on the Bon religion as the state religion so as to unify people¡¯s ideology. On the other hand, in order to protect them from the intrusion of other tribes he ordered people to build Yumbolhakang and the Qingwadaze Palace.

Yumbolhakang is regarded as the first Tibetan castle. Standing on the top of the castle, the fields below and the surrounding lands can clearly be seen and so it was easy to defend the castle from attack. The Qingwadaze Palace was always the residence of the Tubo Kingdom. Under Nyitri Tsampo, the Yarlung tribe rose rapidly to prominence in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

The king married Nanmomo, who gave birth to Motri Tsampo. But, while still a toddler, his father passed away.


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