Tibetan

A place to talk about MESHWESH army lists
Dangun
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Tibetan

Post by Dangun » Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:28 pm

I am just wondering, what happens to the Tibetan army after 1065AD.

They got invaded by the Mongols in 1240AD and then rebelled again in the beginning of the 14th C, so there is something to game if you were so inclined?
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David Kuijt
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Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:09 pm

This is from memory, so bear with me. IIRC, after the 11th century the Tibetan empire collapsed and no longer appears on the stage of history. There is a large amount of overlap between the Tibetans and the Tangut who had several kingdoms in the region that is north of Tibet proper, just south of the Silk Road corridor from China through Central Asia. One of these Tangut kingdoms was the Xixia (western Xia), and these were the ones conquered by the Mongols 1227 or so.

There is certainly a lot of continuity between Tibetans and Xixia -- I think I've heard knowledgeable people say that the Khurasan Miniatures figures for Tibetans also work really well for the Iron Sparrowhawk horsemen of the Tangut. But their location is quite different --the Xixia were always north of Tibet in their activities (Tarim Basin/Mongolia), whereas the Tibetan empire meddled in all directions including against India, the Abbasids in Persia, and even with the Nanzhou/Dali in what is the northern part of Southeast Asia (Vietnam/Burma ish). Further, the information we have on their armies leads to quite a different army composition.

If you're talking about something different from the Xixia, then I'd be very interested in hearing about it. Do you have a (translated) primary source for us to examine?
DK
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David Kuijt
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Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:17 pm

Been reading about "Era of Fragmentation " Tibet. It seems that the Islamic Sultanate of Delhi conquered Bengal 1198-1202, and the new Islamic governor of Bengal was obsessed with conquering Tibet and controlling the lucrative TIbet-Indian trade, so he invaded Tibet (passing through the probably-Hindu kingdom of Kamrupa) in 1205 with an army large enough to be represented in TRIUMPH (10,000 horsemen are mentioned). In the Chumbi valley he ravaged a bunch of towns and created an uprising; he retreated and was attacked by guerrilla forces all the way down a long mountain valley and returned to Bengal with a few hundred horse.

All of which is cool, but nothing in the description looks anything like the Tibetan Empire army of a whole buttload of Cataphracts. So using that army list definitely wouldn't work.

I wonder if it is possible to find enough information to create a speculative "Era of Fragmentation" Tibet army appropriate for fighting the Bengal invasion. If so, it would be reasonable for the Mongol conquest of 1242 as well (although there doesn't seem to have been any notable fighting in that in my reading so far -- "conquest" there seems to be the Mongols showing up and saying "you don't want to fight us" and the Tibetans saying "that's correct."
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Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:36 pm

It seems that the "Era of Fragmentation" runs from the fall of the Tibetan Empire in civil war (840s) to mid 11th century. I haven't found anything yet regarding the period from the mid 11th century to the period of Yuan rule (which covers the invasion mentioned earlier). Some minor kingdoms of Tibet during the Era of Fragmentation seem to have continued into the Mongol period and beyond.
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Re: Tibetan

Post by Dangun » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:22 pm

Thanks for the comments.
David Kuijt wrote: All of which is cool, but nothing in the description looks anything like the Tibetan Empire army of a whole buttload of Cataphracts. So using that army list definitely wouldn't work.
This was what I was noticing, although from a much later period.

I was reading some 16th C. Bhutanese sources and wondering about the Tibetans, thinking where are all the cataphrachts?
So there does seem to be a bit of a lacuna in my knowledge, but apologies for not being able to offer much in the way of suggestions.

PS: One random thought would be that combat in the north easterly direction might look very different to combat in the south westerly direction simply because of the extreme geography and the impact that might have on the feasibility of cavalry?
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David Kuijt
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Re: Tibetan

Post by David Kuijt » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:38 pm

Dangun wrote: I was reading some 16th C. Bhutanese sources and wondering about the Tibetans, thinking where are all the cataphrachts?
So there does seem to be a bit of a lacuna in my knowledge, but apologies for not being able to offer much in the way of suggestions.

PS: One random thought would be that combat in the north easterly direction might look very different to combat in the south westerly direction simply because of the extreme geography and the impact that might have on the feasibility of cavalry?
Dunno -- part of the justification for the 1205 Bengalese invasion is to get control of all the Tibetan horses. So evidently the expectation is that Tibet was a better source for horseflesh than Bengal. Given that the doodad of Bengal (governor?) brought an army of 10,000 horsemen TO Tibet, that means there would be quite a few horses there.

The Chumbi valley (where the doodad of Bengal planted himself, pissed off the locals, fled and was destroyed) apparently has a temperate climate. So it ain't all ice and rock. Wikipedia has no maps available that give me any sense of where the Chumbi valley is in Tibet, but it would be in Eastern Tibet given that Bengal attacked through Kamarupa, which is almost into Assam.

Also, the three minor kingdoms I've found as named survivors of the Era of Fragmentation after the assassination of the Emperor in 842-846 were all in the far west of what was originally the Tibetan Empire. For whatever that's worth.
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Andreas Johansson
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Re: Tibetan

Post by Andreas Johansson » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:00 pm

Regarding cataphracts, this paper is really about the Tibetan army of the 18-20th centuries, but it has a few words to say in passing about earlier days. In particular, it says that cataphract armour was abandoned (for practical military use as opposed to religious pageantry) in the 17th century, due to the proliferation of gunpowder weapons. Lighter armour (mail) continued to be used by horsemen at least throughout the 18th century, but they now rode unarmoured horses.

I might also mention that Duncan Head has wondered aloud if the Tibetan army was ever quite so cataphract-heavy as conventional wargamer wisdom has it even in the grandest imperial days: apparently contemporary Tibetan art shows too many more lightly equipped horsemen to confidently dismiss them all as nomad auxiliaries.
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Re: Tibetan

Post by Snowcat » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:12 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:
I might also mention that Duncan Head has wondered aloud if the Tibetan army was ever quite so cataphract-heavy as conventional wargamer wisdom has it even in the grandest imperial days: apparently contemporary Tibetan art shows too many more lightly equipped horsemen to confidently dismiss them all as nomad auxiliaries.
Duncan's not the only one who's often thought this unlikely. You can put this in the same basket as the Avars with all their armoured 'nobles'!

Cheers
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Andreas Johansson
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Re: Tibetan

Post by Andreas Johansson » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:51 pm

I don't think that's a fair comparison. The Avars might have been your standard steppe horde, but the Tibetans certainly weren't. At least in later days, their cavalry consisted of noble landowners and their followers - a system perfectly capable of raising all-heavy cavalry in Europe.

Also, note that the Avars are not the only steppe lot from the Balkans supposed to be more-or-less all heavy; there's also various Sarmatians. The location may be a hint - they all ruled over sedentary populations and may in time have become, in functional terms, more like an aristocracy than a steppe horde.
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Re: Tibetan

Post by Snowcat » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:00 pm

Ah, a well-informed and thoughtful reply to my very own personal Avar grumble - it's like drinking fine whiskey!

Thanks Andreas - excellent to read your thoughts here.

Cheers!
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