Population of the Tibetan Empire

Jul 2014
1,493
world
#21
"For the umptieth time, no government census say a Stong Ste is a unit of one thousand, that's Warren Smith's assumption. What the term means has no bearing on what its actual size is. It certainly didn't mean a unit of a thousand in later Tibetan sources. "

Facepalm. Because Warren Smith is not assuming anything. Stangde literally means a territory/realm of one thousand households. It is you who is assuming everything from a book that was written 500 years after the events described.... And I would like you to provide the link to five chroncles if you have it.

Facepalm. Apparently Tibetans were idiots that they could differentiate between one thousand and ten thousand.

Even in the early 20th century the Kings and warlords of Kham were organised into almost same units. A De( tribe/settlement/area) will have to provide one man from every family when called upon.

A stongde is a area of one thousand. if it was bigger it would be called Thri de.

When the mongols invaded the total army of the the different factions in civil wars were around 130000 warriors. That means whole of Kham, Amdo and Utsang had total of 130000 warriors they could field against the mongols.



In 1950s the Autonomous region of Tibet (roughly the territory of the early empire period )had only one million people.
In 1950 the Lhasa and surrounding areas had the population of 40 thousand people. Just think about it. the biggest city is only 40000 strong and of that 15000 were monks from all over Tibet and Mongolia and Bhutan in 1950. In 2018 Shigatse city has only 9 thousand people. The second biggest city in Tibet. Where do you think this 36 stongde of 360 thousand strong army existed in the 7th century ?
 
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Mar 2012
4,319
#22
Facepalm. Because Warren Smith is not assuming anything.
Except Warren Smith himself said he is in fact assuming something and you are the only one who is inflexible about interpretation. This is from the quote you provided in your first post here:


"Zhangzhung was not included in the military system of horns, although it is described in other records as a "military district." Each of the horns theoretically consisted of eight tonde, or "thousand-district," a district that could field a thousand warriors. Although some of these numbers may have been hypothetical, the figures provide some conception of the military capabilities of the Tibetans at the time. "

Do you know what the word hypothetical means? Let me give you the answer; "a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. "

In short, he implied what I already said; that the evidence is too limited to establish a concrete fact. However, the compilers of Xizang Tongshi has done a more exhaustive research and pointed out later Tibetan sources such as Bka thang sde lnga mentioned stong sde having well more than a thousand. This mean we have no grounds to assume that in Songtsen Gampo's time, a stong sde has to mean a unit of a thousand either, nor does the Dunhuang documents prove that.




Stangde literally means a territory/realm of one thousand households. It is you who is assuming everything from a book that was written 500 years after the events described.... And I would like you to provide the link to five chroncles if you have it.
I already said several times what it literally means has no bearing on what it actually is. Since you believe a Stong Sde contains 1,000 households, the burden is on you to prove it.
I already showed you one source where a Stong Sde does not just have 1,000 households. Whether it was a later source is irrelevant to the fact that the writer of said source thought a Stong Sde is more than 1,000 households, and hence at some point in Tibetan history a Stong Sde was more than just 1,000 households, meaning Stong Sde was not always interpreted literally to mean a unit of thousand.

Facepalm. Apparently Tibetans were idiots that they could differentiate between one thousand and ten thousand.
Don't project your inflexibility on to others. That's what you think because you are the only one who can't distinguish the difference between names of administrative units and reality. But fortunately, I'm not you, and neither is the author of Bka thang sde lnga.

A stongde is a area of one thousand. if it was bigger it would be called Thri de.
Find me the existence of an administrative unit called Thri de in the imperial period. If you think every single Stong sde has exactly 1,000 households in the territory you rule, you are more out of touch with administrative reality than I thought. The Bka thang sde lnga mentioned 36 stong ste having 300,000-400,000 soldiers. So a Stong Sde is clearly larger than 1,000 in that source, and hence not all Tibetans thought a stong sde is only 1,000. The point is, what it literally means has no bearing on what its actual size is. Repeatedly saying a stong sde literally means a thousand, which we all know, while not proving that it in fact is a unif of a thousand from any primary source and denouncing later sources which shows otherwise is not a prove.

In 1950s the Autonomous region of Tibet (roughly the territory of the early empire period )had only one million people.
In 1950 the Lhasa and surrounding areas had the population of 40 thousand people. Just think about it. the biggest city is only 40000 strong and of that 15000 were monks from all over Tibet and Mongolia and Bhutan in 1950. In 2018 Shigatse city has only 9 thousand people. The second biggest city in Tibet. Where do you think this 36 stongde of 360 thousand strong army existed in the 7th century ?
I didn't say there was an army of 360 thousand in the 7th century, if you can actually read, you would have caught that long ago, but its apparent that you have problem doing that, so that's why you are still making strawmans even when I said clearly, twice, that I did not use the Bka thang sde lnga to prove Tibet has an army of 300,000-400,000. It is used to show that not all Tibetans in history thought a Stong Sde has to be a unit of 1,000. I used the source to show that we cannot know what the actual size of the Tibetan army or population is during the imperial period because we cannot be certain that a Stong Sde really has 1,000 households (also many historians think the population of the Tibetan Plateau under the imperial period is larger than later times, so giving a census of 1950 doesn't mean much).
 
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Likes: Ichon
Mar 2012
4,319
#23
Since you have the tendency to not grasp what I wrote and ask the same strawman questions over and over, I'm going to sum up your strawmans point by point so you don't ask the same questions again.


1) I did not assume that the Bka thang sde lnga was right on army size, so don't ever ask this strawman again: "Are you saying that Tibetan Imperial censusof 652 AD was wrong and some 13th century book and tang historians are right? "

If I accepted the 13th century source as right, I would have accepted the figure of 300,000-400,000 as conclusive, but I didn't because the source is not primary.


2) This is what I actually said in post 10: "I'm afraid we cannot really know just how big Tibetan armies are based on these sources alone. However, these later medieval sources tell us that while Stong ste literally means unit of one thousand, it can easily be larger than that."
Stating we do not know the answer from limited evidence is not affirming that the Bka thang sde lnga is right. So don't falsely accuse me of this again like you did on post 21:
"It is you who is assuming everything from a book that was written 500 years after the events described "

You are committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent when you accuse me that I assume the Bka thang sde lnga is more accurate than primary sources. I made no such claim.


This is what I did argue:

1) What the Bka thang sde lnga does show, is that a stong sde CAN be over 1,000 households. Therefore it opens up the possibility that a stong sde is in fact well over 1,000 households. The possibility is a strong one, as we have multiple Tang sources talking about Tibetan armies in the tens of thousands and several garrisons in the high thousands in the Qinghai frontier as well as the Pamirs alone.


2) The primary sources do not give a census of the population or the numerical breakdown of a stong sde. Therefore, it does not actually prove a stong sde has 1,000 households in the imperial period. Just because the administrative unit literally means a unit of a thousand, does not mean it actually has a thousand households. Names and the reality that its designated to reflect are frequently different in history, the Tumen being an example.


3) Because the primary source does not give a precise breakdown, and is not conclusive, while the secondary later source opens up an alternate possibility, we hence do not know the size of a stong sde during imperial times, and hence we cannot know the population or army size of the Tibetan empire from the primary sources. I repeat again, it does not mean I am saying the secondary source is right.


If you cannot understand what I said above and continue to make strawmans that makes this conversation difficult and repetitive, then I will have to ask the moderator to step in.
 
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Jul 2014
1,493
world
#24
I too am tired of your inflexibility and seemingly incoherent viewpoint that diverges from our main debate. The main point is the number of the warriors in the early Tibetan empire.

"1) The possibility is a strong one, as we have multiple Tang sources talking about Tibetan armies in the tens of thousands and several garrisons in the high thousands in the Qinghai frontier as well as the Pamirs alone. "

What period of the empire are you talking about ? We are not discussing about 8th century empire when they had many vassals. I am talking about early empire period when the so called historians of Tang dynasty wrote that Tibetan army was 200 thousand strong. after the Tang army lost 100 thousand men in battle.

Also the Tibetan culture was nomadic and so was the army. A very mobile army. For example Just because mongols fought against the Jin and than against the khwarzheim doesn't mean that mongol army had huge numbers.


"This is what I actually said in post 10: "I'm afraid we cannot really know just how big Tibetan armies are based on these sources alone. However, these later medieval sources tell us that while Stong ste literally means unit of one thousand, it can easily be larger than that." "


It goes both ways. A stongde may indeed be hypothetical in number. It could be lower than one thousand. much lower. My great grandfather was a Honda (roughly equivalent to a Baron) and the had the obligation to field a force of 100 men as his his feudal duty to the king of Derge but he could at maximum field around 80. He was not punished for that because his "de" although very large was quite sparsely populated. He was a gyapen (commander of hundred) in military terms and Honda in feudal terms.

When he was a dzongpen (fortress lord) for two years (every honda had to command a fortress for two years by turn) he was theoretically in charge of a 1000 strong stongma levy for the period of two years but it actually had the strength of less than 600 in reality.

So theoretically Tibetan army was even less than 40 thousand strong in the early empire period.

"The primary sources do not give a census of the population or the numerical breakdown of a stong sde. Therefore, it does not actually prove a stong sde has 1,000 households in the imperial period. Just because the administrative unit literally means a unit of a thousand, does not mean it actually has a thousand households. Names and the reality that its designated to reflect are frequently different in history, the Tumen being an example. "

What you are saying enforces my point . The tumen were a unit of ten thousand but were mostly undermanned around 5000. The Roman legion is also similar in that a legion strength were around 4 to 7 thousand men strong, never 10 thousand strong. A stongde could be the same.
 
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Mar 2012
4,319
#25
I too am tired of your inflexibility and seemingly incoherent viewpoint that diverges from our main debate. The main point is the number of the warriors in the early Tibetan empire.
Don't mince words with me. I said we do not know the actual size from the sources at hand. You said we do. How does that make what I said inflexible? I have been talking about mobilization based on the size of a stong sde, which is right on point about military size. You ask strawman questions on things I never claimed, and you tell me I'm incoherent? Tell me that when you've demonstrated you can read things properly first.


What period of the empire are you talking about ? We are not discussing about 8th century empire when they had many vassals. I am talking about early empire period when the so called historians of Tang dynasty wrote that Tibetan army was 200 thousand strong. after the Tang army lost 100 thousand men in battle.

Also the Tibetan culture was nomadic and so was the army. A very mobile army. For example Just because mongols fought against the Jin and than against the khwarzheim doesn't mean that mongol army had huge numbers.
This thread is titled population of the Tibetan Empire, so I'm talking about the entire imperial period. Even if you are only talking about the earlier period, the Tibetan Empire lasted until 842. So the early 8th century still falls within the early imperial period. The typical dividing line when Tibet started to expand further is during the reign of khri srong lde btsan (755-794), where Tibetan armies captured Hexi from the Tang, and later the Tarim Basin. However, the figures I used come from the Tang-Tibetan wars in the early 8th century, before the times of Khri srong lde btsan. Tibet during the time of Dafeichuan in 670 was no larger than it was in 750 (if not somewhat smaller, as the Tang captured Little Balur and Qinghai from the Tibetans by this date).
For example, when Gao Xianzhi captured Lian Yun fortress in Little Balur on the Pamirs in 747, he reported 1,000 people in the fort and 9,000 people in a garrison 15 li south of it. This means at least a total Tibetan force of around 10,000 in the Pamirs alone. Gao Xianzhi also used 10,000 soldiers to do the job, so the size of the Tang and Tibetan armies were comparable. Gao recorded that he killed over 5,000 and captured 1,000 alive, so we have a more reliable count on the perished enemy. In the east, we have a string of forts and garrisons like Moli, Shibao, Datong, etc. which the Tang fought, where the Tang army was far larger than what Gao Xianzhi had. We also hear records of Tibetan armies in these wars ranging from over 1,000-30,000. All this falls within the early imperial period.

The Mongols did have huge armies. They had some 129,000 right when the empire was founded, and the number only increased, but the time of Mengke, where Haython records some 850,000 nomads alone.


It goes both ways. A stongde may indeed be hypothetical in number. It could be lower than one thousand. much lower. My great grandfather was a Honda (roughly equivalent to a Baron) and the had the obligation to field a force of 100 men as his his feudal duty to the king of Derge but he could at maximum field around 80. He was not punished for that because his "de" although very large was quite sparsely populated. He was a gyapen (commander of hundred) in military terms and Honda in feudal terms.

When he was a dzongpen (fortress lord) for two years (every honda had to command a fortress for two years by turn) he was theoretically in charge of a 1000 strong stongma levy for the period of two years but it actually had the strength of less than 600 in reality.

So theoretically Tibetan army was even less than 40 thousand strong in the early empire period.
Except we have later Tibetan sources recording that it is bigger and contemporary Tang sources mentioning bigger numbers too, whereas we have no evidence a stong sde is smaller than 1,000 in any source. Your grandfather, even if he is a reliable source, dates much later than both earlier sources and hence far less reflective of what a stong sde is in the imperial period.
 
Jul 2014
1,493
world
#26
Don't mince words with me. I said we do not know the actual size from the sources at hand. You said we do. How does that make what I said inflexible? I have been talking about mobilization based on the size of a stong sde, which is right on point about military size. You ask strawman questions on things I never claimed, and you tell me I'm incoherent? Tell me that when you've demonstrated you can read things properly first.



This thread is titled population of the Tibetan Empire, so I'm talking about the entire imperial period. Even if you are only talking about the earlier period, the Tibetan Empire lasted until 842. So the early 8th century still falls within the early imperial period. The typical dividing line when Tibet started to expand further is during the reign of khri srong lde btsan (755-794), where Tibetan armies captured Hexi from the Tang, and later the Tarim Basin. However, the figures I used come from the Tang-Tibetan wars in the early 8th century, before the times of Khri srong lde btsan. Tibet during the time of Dafeichuan in 670 was no larger than it was in 750 (if not somewhat smaller, as the Tang captured Little Balur and Qinghai from the Tibetans by this date).
For example, when Gao Xianzhi captured Lian Yun fortress in Little Balur on the Pamirs in 747, he reported 1,000 people in the fort and 9,000 people in a garrison 15 li south of it. This means at least a total Tibetan force of around 10,000 in the Pamirs alone. Gao Xianzhi also used 10,000 soldiers to do the job, so the size of the Tang and Tibetan armies were comparable. Gao recorded that he killed over 5,000 and captured 1,000 alive, so we have a more reliable count on the perished enemy. In the east, we have a string of forts and garrisons like Moli, Shibao, Datong, etc. which the Tang fought, where the Tang army was far larger than what Gao Xianzhi had. We also hear records of Tibetan armies in these wars ranging from over 1,000-30,000. All this falls within the early imperial period.

The Mongols did have huge armies. They had some 129,000 right when the empire was founded, and the number only increased, but the time of Mengke, where Haython records some 850,000 nomads alone.




Except we have later Tibetan sources recording that it is bigger and contemporary Tang sources mentioning bigger numbers too, whereas we have no evidence a stong sde is smaller than 1,000 in any source. Your grandfather, even if he is a reliable source, dates much later than both earlier sources and hence far less reflective of what a stong sde is in the imperial period.

I am tired of arguing with you.

Early empire to me is from 600o 670 AD when they took Anxi for the first time.

According to you there is one book written 500 years later that is all important. And you still haven't given me original tibetan source . what page number says what you are claiming ? It is geographically and logistically impossible to have an army of 360000 strong in Tibet in the 7th century.

The biggest city in Tibet is Lhasa and its population was 40000 people in 1950. This area is almost 520 square km big and perhaps the most fertile and livable place in Tibet apart from Payi. The second biggest city is shigatse and its population is 9000 in 2018 census. In 1950 the whole population of Tibet was 1 million.

Use your head.There is no place in Tibet that allows for large population. Not anywhere. It is like siberia but with mountains. Nowadays TIbet imports almost everything from mainland to survive. Even meat is being imported. Without this Tibet would starve because the land cannot support more than one million.

If you want to go by the Tibetan books than Tang emperor was a vassal to the Tibetan emperor. The kings of persia too. According to Thritsong stesen all the kings of four direction submitted to him. and King of Dege was bigger man than the Qing emperor and Dalai lama. Shall I take that as true because it was written in a book ?
 
May 2017
197
indo
#27
I am tired of arguing with you.

Early empire to me is from 600o 670 AD when they took Anxi for the first time.

According to you there is one book written 500 years later that is all important. And you still haven't given me original tibetan source . what page number says what you are claiming ? It is geographically and logistically impossible to have an army of 360000 strong in Tibet in the 7th century.

The biggest city in Tibet is Lhasa and its population was 40000 people in 1950. This area is almost 520 square km big and perhaps the most fertile and livable place in Tibet apart from Payi. The second biggest city is shigatse and its population is 9000 in 2018 census. In 1950 the whole population of Tibet was 1 million.

Use your head.There is no place in Tibet that allows for large population. Not anywhere. It is like siberia but with mountains. Nowadays TIbet imports almost everything from mainland to survive. Even meat is being imported. Without this Tibet would starve because the land cannot support more than one million.

If you want to go by the Tibetan books than Tang emperor was a vassal to the Tibetan emperor. The kings of persia too. According to Thritsong stesen all the kings of four direction submitted to him. and King of Dege was bigger man than the Qing emperor and Dalai lama. Shall I take that as true because it was written in a book ?

look, it is okay to have nationalism and love your own kin, but many history were over exaggerated, to prove themself more better than chinese people.

over the internet i have read many over exaggeration from korean nationalist like "sui dynasty send all sui dynasty 3 million soldiers to destroy goguryeo and defeated" is that even possible? china was sedentary civilization and many of its soldiers were used to defend city, capital, and border in 4 direction, it is not possible to all out in total war by sending all of it's army just trying to defeat medium size kingdom like goguryeo.

in case of yours, tibet are semi nomadic (just like what you say), still, tibet have sedentary city like lhasa and others, it is not possible that tibet only have 40.000 army and send all of those 40.000 army just only to defeat tang dynasty, it sound like over exaggeration for me.
 
Mar 2012
4,319
#28
I am tired of arguing with you.

Early empire to me is from 600o 670 AD when they took Anxi for the first time.
Maybe if you read up and stop making strawmans, this conversation wouldn't be so repetitive.
The empire in 670 is bigger than the Empire in 747. So what's your point? Why do you think the number of soldiers increased?

According to you there is one book written 500 years later that is all important. And you still haven't given me original tibetan source . what page number says what you are claiming ? It is geographically and logistically impossible to have an army of 360000 strong in Tibet in the 7th century.
The quoted source is from Xizang Tongzhi, I didn't check the original, you are welcome to do that yourself if you live in a Tibetan region, as that should be more easily accessible. As for impossible, you are basing this on what exactly? The assumptions that a stong sde is 1,000 households? We already know that's hypothetical.

The biggest city in Tibet is Lhasa and its population was 40000 people in 1950. This area is almost 520 square km big and perhaps the most fertile and livable place in Tibet apart from Payi. The second biggest city is shigatse and its population is 9000 in 2018 census. In 1950 the whole population of Tibet was 1 million.

Use your head.There is no place in Tibet that allows for large population. Not anywhere. It is like siberia but with mountains. Nowadays TIbet imports almost everything from mainland to survive. Even meat is being imported. Without this Tibet would starve because the land cannot support more than one million.
You do realize the Tibetan Empire in 670 included the Tuyuhun in addition to the 61 stong sde, as well as Nepal, Balur, and probably the region of Bhutan as well. The population of these regions together are already larger than that of the Tibetan autonomous region in 1900.
Also, the figure of 400,000 is most likely not a standing army, but rather the mobilization potential and a state with a population of 3-4 million can easily do that if it adopts universal conscription.
Furthermore, the Tiele themselves can mobilize 220,000 in the 7th century, the Xiongnu could also mobilize 400,000, as could the Turuks. The Mongols after 1211 could also mobilize up to 200,000, Tibet has a larger population than all of these states, why do you think it is incapable of doing that?

If you want to go by the Tibetan books than Tang emperor was a vassal to the Tibetan emperor. The kings of persia too. According to Thritsong stesen all the kings of four direction submitted to him. and King of Dege was bigger man than the Qing emperor and Dalai lama. Shall I take that as true because it was written in a book ?
No, but its still better than blind speculation, which is the basis of your population estimate.
 
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Mar 2012
4,319
#29
look, it is okay to have nationalism and love your own kin, but many history were over exaggerated, to prove themself more better than chinese people.

over the internet i have read many over exaggeration from korean nationalist like "sui dynasty send all sui dynasty 3 million soldiers to destroy goguryeo and defeated" is that even possible? china was sedentary civilization and many of its soldiers were used to defend city, capital, and border in 4 direction, it is not possible to all out in total war by sending all of it's army just trying to defeat medium size kingdom like goguryeo.

in case of yours, tibet are semi nomadic (just like what you say), still, tibet have sedentary city like lhasa and others, it is not possible that tibet only have 40.000 army and send all of those 40.000 army just only to defeat tang dynasty, it sound like over exaggeration for me.
If anything, he is downplaying Tibetan military power in the 7th century, underestimating Tibetan military potential. Nomads can mobilize even larger part of their population for war as they do not need to farm. To give one an idea of how large nomadic forces can be:

In the fourth year of Jinglong (711), Tang Zhongzong decided to campaign against the Turks of the north and planned a force that might have mobilized nearly all of the forces of the northern frontier (not even including Mongolia); with 50,000 mixed army led by the protector general of Beiting, with Turgesh Shouzhong leading 250,000 "barbarian" horsemen, Zhang Renyuan leading 150,000 mixed force. Sima Yike and Liangzhou area command leading 70,000 cavalry, and Zhen Can leading 60,000 mixed force of barbarian horsemen and Han.

In total, there were 580,000 soldiers planned for the campaign, and of these around 250,000 were from Chengbang forces (nomads living outside of Chinese fortresses), and 250,000 from jimi prefectures (under Turgesh Shouzhong), and only around 80,000 were probably Han forces. We are talking about half of a million nomad under the Tang alone. Even if the Tang had to fight both the Tibetans and the Turuks, Tibet must have a significant force at hand that can cope with nomadic armies of that size, and that's not even including the sedentary Han forces.
 
Jul 2014
1,493
world
#30
No, but its still better than blind speculation, which is the basis of your population estimate.
I am tired of your patronizing tone.

Speculation is your particular forte where you seem to think of Tibetan as numerically illiterate people who cant differentiate between one thousand and ten thousand. You are ignoring the written accounts, the geography and common sense.

You also seem to never have never been to Tibet because that would make your Speculation about the population numbers quite strange.

For the last time :

I am talking about the early empire period when manpower was extremely limited and the Tibetan state did not have many vassals. The greatest victories of the early imperial Yarn Lungs were made without much outside help.

The Tibetans conquered (not raided) the Anxi corridor (for 20 years ) and Tyuhoon (permanently) after (not before) the battle of Da feichuan. There was no way an army of 200 hundred thousand strong Tibetan army at that period.

And you have to remember that Tibetan army logistic was based on loot. Even Tang historians say that invading Tibetan armies got their food sources via looting and theft.

I agree that Tibetan empire could have fielded more troops than 40000 because of vassals but not in 670 when the vassals such as Tuyuhun were rebelling and asking for Tang help. Nepal was just limitedt to Kathmandu and bagmati region,and quite small. Their main contribution was skilled coppersmiths not soldiers. Bhutan was full of north east Indian tribes not Tibetans at that period.
 
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