Tibetan Warriors

The Tibetan Empire beginning in 600CE lasted untill 850CE. In this period we see a struggle over the Tarim basin between the Tibetans, the Chinese, and a Mongolic-speaking people called the Aza.

In the book “Army of Tang China” by Karl Heinz Ranitzsch It describes the Tibetan army the Tang Chinese fought against: “The men and horses all wear chain armour. It’s workmanship is extremely fine. It envelops them completely, leaving openings only for the two eyes. Thus strong bows and sharp swords cannot harm them. When they do battle, they must dismount and array themselves in ranks. When one dies another takes his place. To the end, they are not willing to retreat. Their lances are longer and thinner than those in China. Their archery is weak but their armour is strong. The men always use swords, when they are not at war they still go about carrying swords.”

Arab sources also refer of the Tibetan infantry. From another chapter in a battle where the Uighurs allied with Chinese to fight the Tibetans.

“The Uighurs considered themselves more of a match for the cumbersome Tibetan cavalry, the Chinese infantry was equipped with crossbows with leather flighted arrows and with longbows whose steel tipped arrows could pierce the Tibetan armor.The Tibetan infantry were the main threat ,Heavily armed encased in armor they were known for their bravery under attack.But the Tibetan army was also reinforced by Turkic soldiers who were excellent cavalrymen.The Tibetan army was waiting for the allied army under Beshbaliq.The Chinese and Uighurs could make no headway against the Tibetans and as the battle progressed they became weak and dispirited,then at last the Tibetan lines begun to advance a grey ironclad mass of Tibetan infantry rolled forward relentlessly routing the enemy”. There was an exhibition of Tibetan arms and armours in New York last summer



9 thoughts on “Tibetan Warriors

  1. Bhod Gyalo

    What is meant by Tibetan empire? Tibet had kings before Songtsen Gampo. He was the 33rd King of Yarlung Dynasty. He united Tibet more than other kings and was the most powerful. My concern is that many do not know Tibetan history and write as if Tibetan history started from the 7th Century. This comment is not really aimed at this artcile but other poeple who do not know Tibetan history and make assumptions.

  2. bhod gyalo

    Going over geography is murky since what we accept now as nation state is not there then. Some parts of India were paying taxes to the Tibetan government not too long before the Chinese invasion of Tibet. And some parts of Tibet were paying taxes to China even though Tibet claimed those areas as Tibetan and the people have same culture and language even though different dialects as Tibetans.

    My point in the comment was mainly to point to the fact that Tibetan history didnot start from 7th Century. Now that you got me going. If you read the report by Rights and Democracy about Nortel’s involvement in Tibet, you will notice that Tibetan history before Chinese invasion is given two lines and the content is:

    “The history of Tibet can be traced back to the early 7th Century when various tribes and clans who lived on the high plateau united as a conderation”.

    The Yarlung dynasty and that fact that Songtsen Gampo was the 33rd king is lost and any reader who doesnot have knowledge of Tibetan history will never think that there were other kings and other historical events before that.

    That is the only reservation I have about the report or else it is excellent and I think you should put it on this blog if space allows.

  3. Jigme32

    Yea sure. I read that report and saw that section as well. Do you have an online link to the report because I only have a hard copy.

    Also if I’m not mistaken the reason
    why they state:

    “The history of Tibet can be traced back to the early 7th Century when various tribes and clans who lived on the high plateau united as a confederation.”

    is because of exactly whats written there. What we see today as Tibet unified as a single nation did not occur until the 7th century. Before that it was “various tribes and clans”.

    Still I understand and agree with why you think its wrong for people to see Tibetan history as beginning during the 7th century since there are many other nations like Greece or Mongolia who were not unified as a single power until a certain time period yet we incorporate the time period before this as Greek or Mongol history.

    Also I thought this would be a matter of whether or not these people saw themselves as Greek, Mongolian or Tibetan which would determine which history they would be sorted into. Because the Greeks even though they were not unified as a single power during most of the Greek history we learn about, they still viewed themselves as Greeks. Spartans considered themselves Greek, Athenians, etc..

    But then I thought about Mongol history where Mongolia was unified by Genghis Khan in the very late 1100’s yet we incorporate the time period previous to that as Mongol History even though these previous peoples would not have considered themselves Mongolian.

    Sorry if this seems off topic but this has just got me thinking about what are the factors that sort different time periods under different peoples history.

    Also I thought it might be geography that determines this but then what about empires that conquer foreign lands. In China’s case they claim Tibetan history as Chinese history now. But when the British conquered India or its other territories they didn’t do the same.

  4. We pray for peace in tibet
    URGENT – developments in Tibet

    Please pray for Monks and all people of Tibet. Please send all information and recommendations for courses of action. These will be published and reported as we receive them.


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