The Cultural Ambassador Princess Wencheng (Part 1)

Tang Taizong accepted Songtsan Gambo’s request and selected a daughter from his clan to be appointed as Princess Wencheng. (Image:  Secret China)
Tang Taizong accepted Songtsan Gambo’s request and selected a daughter from his clan to be appointed as Princess Wencheng. (Image: Secret China)

Tubo is now known as Tibet. In the 7th century A.D., Qizong Nongtsan, also known as Songtsan Gambo, became the successor of the Tubo kingdom. After unifying many tribes, he established a strong kingdom around the capital Luoxie.

In the 12th year of Emperor Taizong’s reign, Song Zanganbu led the Tubo army to attack Sichuan. The Emperor sent Hou Jun to lead his army to battle and the soldiers brought Tubo under their control. Defeated Songtsan Gambo had to bow down to the court and pleaded guilty. He even proposed a marital bond to the Tang kingdom.

Tang Taizong accepted Songtsan Gambo’s request and selected a daughter from his clan to be appointed as Princess Wencheng. Princess Wencheng was the daughter of an aristocratic family. She was dignified, mature, and cultured, reading poetry since childhood. Although she was doubtful of the faraway land of Tubo, she was also filled with curiosity, so she accepted the proposal. In the winter of Emperor Taizong’s reign, Princess Wencheng went to Tubo under the escort of a large troupe.

In the 7th century AD, Qizong Nongtsan, also known as Songtsan Gambo, became the successor of the Tubo kingdom. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

In the 7th century A.D., Qizong Nongtsan, also known as Songtsan Gambo, became the successor of the Tubo kingdom. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The journey took more than a month to travel from Chang’an to Tubo. In addition to carrying a rich dowry, her soldiers also carried a large number of books, musical instruments, cymbals, and grain seeds. Along with the servants of Princess Wencheng, there was also a team of scribes, musicians, and agricultural technicians. The procession was in effect a cultural mission.

In order to ensure the stability of the southwest border of the Tang kingdom, Emperor Taizong felt that it was necessary to strengthen the bond with Tubo, so he tried his best to assist them economically and culturally by sending the cultural aspects. Princess Wencheng was, in fact, holding the political task of marrying the country and her team assisted her in completing this mission.

Leading his soldiers personally, Songtsan Gambo went to Heyuan to meet the Princess and her cavalcade. Once the Tubo king from the great grassland saw the Princess of the Tang Kingdom, he was immediately smitten with her. Princess Wencheng was completely different from the primitive and rough Tubo women. Songtsan Gambo was, in Princess Wencheng’s opinion, swarthy and rough, but she noticed his tall, strong body and bold temperament expressed in his valiant personality. The Princess rejoiced to herself that she was marrying a good husband. So the Tubo kingdom became grateful to the Tang kingdom.

Tibetan King Srongtsong Gampo and his wives, Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal (left) and Princess Wencheng of China (right). (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo and his wives, Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal (left) and Princess Wencheng of China (right). (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Escorted by the two military units, Princess Wencheng and Songtsan Gambo entered Luoxie city together to begin the wedding ceremonies. They held a grand wedding in accordance with the etiquette of the Han people. The people of Luoxie City sang and danced to celebrate the great occasion. Songtsan Gambo said to his entourage: “My dear father and my dear clan never had a precedent for such a marriage of alliance to a mighty country. Today, I am very fortunate to marry the Princess of the Tang Kingdom, so I have decided to build a magnificent palace for the Princess to show our children.”

Soon, a beautiful palace was built, and everything inside looked magnificent. All the interior mirrored the Tang Dynasty Palace to help Princess Wencheng settle into her new home and to reduce her homesickness. In order to have more in common with Princess Wencheng, Songtsan Gambo took off the leather jacket that he was fond of wearing and changed into wearing a silk Tang suit that the princess personally sewed for him. He also tried to learn Chinese from Princess Wencheng. The interracial couple was able to begin their new life together with harmony and respect.

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