Unconquerable snow mountains; mirror-clear lakes; circulating Buddhist mantras, and a soul facing lifestyle. From the past to the future, Tibet has been and will remain a land of mysteries. Today in Tibet, the busy streets of Barkhor and the magnificent palace of Potala seem like an echo from a distant shadow. Songtsen Gampo united dozens of tribes and built the Tibetan empire in the 7th century, while Buddhism came into Tibet, alone with the Tibetan writing system which is adopted from Sanskrit, and henceforth the Tibetan bibliographical history began. Yet for the centuries before Buddhism, Tibet’s civilization seemed lost, and the key to unlock the black hole of time lies in the vast land of Ngari.
Ngari is an area that takes up a quarter of Tibet’s land and it now has the lowest population density in the world; with an average altitude of 4500 meters, it is sometimes called the rooftop of the rooftop of the world. Yet in such an extreme natural condition, a great civilization once emerged before Tibetan Buddhism-Zhangzhung.
Zhangzhung was an ancient culture and kingdom of western and northwestern Tibet. Zhangzhung culture is associated with the Bon religion, which in turn, has influenced the philosophies and practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Zhangzhung people are mentioned frequently in ancient Tibetan texts as the original rulers of central and western Tibet. Only in the last two decades have archaeologists been given access to do archaeological work in the areas once ruled by the Zhangzhung. Recently, a tentative match has been proposed between the Zhangzhung and an Iron Age culture now being uncovered on the Changtang plateau in northwestern Tibet.