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About Ser Shong
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What is Ser Shong?

Ser Shong is Tibetan for Golden Valley, it is the original name for the valley. Rebgong is the Tibetan name for the area, called by the Chinese tongren. When the Chinese appropriated the annexed region of Tibet in 1950 they renamed all of the provinces, towns and geographic features. The village and monasteries of Sange were renamed to Wutun, which means "From Tibet." This name is actually came about in 1403 AD when the Chinese Emperor (the 1st Chinese ruler to use the title Emperor) Yongle of the Ming dynasty invited 50 artists from Sange to construct a pagoda in Beijing. He was the Emeror that moved the capital to Beijing and constructed the Forbidden City. The emperor wrote a letter of praise and called their work Wujitong art and after this the Chinese referred to the village as Wutong. The valley is about 15 kilometers long, running north to south along a tributary of the Yellow River and is about 3 kilometers wide. The map below shows the villages of Ser Shong on the bottom portion of the map, approximately 4.5 hours by south of Xining. The map shows some of the points of interest of Ser Shong in brown letters which we discuss on this web site with interesting tidbits and pictures. the following are the Chinese names and the tibetan names incase you wanted to do your own research:

The province~ prefecture: Chinese= Qinghai ~ Tibetan = Amdo

County: Chinese = Tongren ~ Tibetan = Rebgong
Main city: Chinese = Longwu ~ Tibetan = Rong Wu
Villages: Chinese = Wutun or Wutong ~ Tibetan = Senge (also spelled Seng ge)

The other villages as far as Ii know have not been renamed by the Chinese.

 

map of amdo region

Brief History of Ser Shong

 

Early in the 9th century an army was dispatched from Lhasa to expel the Chinese garrison from the valley. The army was led by General Tampa Shak Dor, Shak Dor means thunderbolt or dorje in the hand. After the garrison was driven from the valley the soldiers went to a meadow and celebrated their victory. Many of the soldiers (18 levels) stayed behind to ensure that the Chinese did not return. The valley was inhabited by Mongols and Chinese.  The soldiers that remained married the local women, the language that evolved was a combination of Chinese, Mongolian with a heavy emphasis on Lhasan Tibetan.

Later, in March of 1028, 4 of the 10 sons of General Tampa Shak Dor came to the valley to administer the governance. Three of his elder sons all had Sange as part of their name. Their names were Annal Ger Sange, Halter Sange and Sange Zhangsen, the 4th and youngest son to reside in the valley was Chogya Tar Dee. The village was named Sange for the 3 oldest sons. This name lasted until 1958 when it was changed to the Chinese name Wutun, which means from Tibet. The valley was called Senge Shong, or Lion Valley, the mountains were called Sange Mountains. Later to avoid confusion the valley's name was changed to Ser Shong, or golden valley.

check out the pages below for interesting pictures and stories.

The large Stupa at Ghomar monastery and village is the largest in the Amdo region, taking 5 years to build and the second largest Stupa in Tibet. It has 5 floors rising to a 125 feet.
Nyantok monastery and village is located 1.5 kilometers north of Rongwu on the west side of the valley. It has a dubious name with different ominous versions of the origins.
Rongwu town is divided into two parts; the old section that is below Rongwu Monastery and the newer section that starts just north of the monastery. The older section is watched over by the monastery which sits upon a supported bluff and an ancient brick and earthen watch tower complete with arrow slots in the turret.

The Golden Valley is home to 5 monasteries. The villages are on the side of the valley, nestled into the foot hills, while the valley floor is reserved for crops. Wheat and canola are the principle crops.

The Upper Sange (Wutun in Chinese) Monastery was founded circa 1385. there was a large mud slide that destroyed a large portion of the Lower Monastery and it is thought that some of the surviving monks decided to build a new monastery in a safer location away for the steep hillsides. Originally Sange was a meditational site, inhabited by Guru's. The Lower Sange Monastery site is the oldest in the valley, however it was originally a meditation site, then a temple was built and later this was converted into a monastery; monasteries are basically a place of teaching and residence for monks. The story surrounding the initial building of the temple has two versions, cuckoos are central in both stories.
Sange or Wutun village has about 3000 residents living in the traditional compacted earthen walled compounds. Every household in the village has at least one resident artist as well a family member that is a monk or lama at one of the monasteries. There are 3 or 4 small stores in the village, one of those stores is next to the one pool table pool hall. Thig Mo Monastery (pronounced Two Moe) lays in ruins at the north end of the valley. All that is visible from afar are the earthen walls. What happened to Thig Mo?
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