“New History of Tang Dynasty” says that Sumpa was “Western Qiang Nomad”. It can be seen that Sumpa originally belonged to Qiang ethnic group. However, some Sinologists believe that Sumpa was a tribe of Tibetan, the name of Sumpa is also known as “Supi” or “Sun bo” in chinese, which is regarded as the name of Qiang ethnic group, and “Sun Bo” was name of Tubo.
It existed approximately from the 4th century to the middle of the 7th century, and was later destroyed by Tubo dynasty.
Sumpa was both a family appellation and a country appellation, and it belonged to a branch of the ancient Qiang people and was an ancient country and nation in the early Tibet history
Sumpa established a matrilineal clan regime, also known as the Nv(female) Kingdom or the East Nv(female) Kingdom. Since then, its place of residence had gradually expanded eastward to the Lhasa River Basin and the northwestern part of Chamdo, as well as the Yushu area of Qinghai. Nowadays, a large number of ruins of ancient buildings where Sumpa lived have been discovered in Biru County, Dengqen County, Chamdo, etc.
In 755 AD, the Tubo Dynasty sent troops to attack Sumpa Kingdom which was was destroyed;
The prince of the Sumpa Kingdom led some of his tribes to escape to the Tang dynasty and be subordinated to the Tang Dynasty, and was named the “King of Huaiyi”, while the Sumpa tribes who remained in the land were gradually Tibetanized after the 9th century.
Features of Sumpa Kingdom
The Kingdom was ruled by two Queens in the the same time
Two Queens in power at the same time
The two queens were divided into big and small queens. The big queen was mainly responsible for the administration and the little queen assists in the management. When the big queen dies, the little queen shall directly succeed to the throne as the big queen, and then the next little queen shall be elected.
After the children were born, they all followed their mother’s surname, and the women were very noble and had real power. The men were of low status and could only engage in labor such as agricultural production and hunting. This kind of custom can be regarded as the continuation of matrilineal society in feudal society.
Divination of using bird
Every early spring, the relevant personnel in charge of sacrificial offerings in Sumpa Kingdom enterdc the mountains and forests, and then they would break a bird. If there was undigested food in the bird’s stomach, the crops would be harvested this year. If there was only sand and little stones, there would be disasters this year.
Hairstyle and shoes
All people in Sumpa Kingdom had basically the same hairstyles, all with loose hair, and shoes made of animal fur (leather shoes), and every day they painted their faces with various paints to beautify their appearance.
Under the leadership of the Queen, Sumpa Kingdom made full use of the fine pastures to develop animal husbandry, and made full use of the resources of the “salt” industry to sell them to the outside world. The gains obtained can be described as “tremendous”. Therefore, Local residents were very wealthy, and gold had become an important object for them to show their status, and it had also become an important accessory for clothing.
Worship Asura god and Tree god.
Asura is a god in Tianzhu mythology. He is regarded as a god of war because he often fights with the other gods.
The Dual burial was popular in Sumpa Kingdom. “The nobleman died, peeled off the skin, and buried it with gold chips and flesh and blood in a bottle. After one year, the dead nobleman’s skin was put in an iron container and buried together with the bottle.”
Local people also had the custom of painting their face in auburn, both men and women use color, and even “change the color several times a day”.
Geographical location and territory
Sumpa Kingdom was an ancient Qiang nation established by Sumpa Queen in the middle of the 4th century.
According to Tibetan historical records that Sumpa’s original territory was located in present-day Yushu and Kham (northwestern Sichuan), and then gradually expanded to the Lhasa River basin. By the 6th century, Sumpa became the dominance on the northern bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River with capital in the present-day’s Namling County of Shigatse , which is the Xiangqu River Basin. Therefore, in Tibetan historical records, Xiangqu River was also called Sumpa River. Its also included Qiang-tang plateau of Tibet which is the entire northern Tibet Plateau.
Sumpa Kingdom bordered Khotan to the north, Domi (a tribe in the Tongtianhe area of in Yushu) to the east, Tianzhu (India) to the west, and the Kingdom of Tubo to the east.
The Politics and Economy
Although the Sumpa Kingdom entered the early stage of slavery, it had preserved a large number of remnants of matrilineal clans. In other words, Sumpa was a country with feminism at its core. It was a matriarchal country with the supreme ruler being the queen
The throne of Sumpa Kingdom is held by women for life, and the successor must also be a woman. The custom of valuing women over men in Sumpa Kingdom was the most prominent in marriage issues; in today’s Tibetan areas, there are still the marriage customs of “polyandry”, and the supremacy of “uncle power” which is also common to play a dominant role in the family
According to historical records: Subi Kingdom was once a very wealthy country, dominated by animal husbandry and agriculture, and rich in products, producing yak, horse, gold, brass, cinnabar, musk, salt, etc.
Among them, hunting far surpassed other industries. Men were only engaged in farming and hunting, while women were in politics.
Handicrafts and commercial trade were also very prosperous in Sumpa, especially salt producting, it possessed considerable national strength.
Sumpa’s metallurgical technology was quite developed, and the architecture was also unique. The Diaolou around Danba County was the style of Sumpa architecture.
Sumpa had trade with Tianzhu (India), Persia, and Gaochang at that time through the Silk Road, and the queen’s favorite brocade came from the Central Plains of China. As early as the sixth year of Emperor Wen’s reign of Sui Dynasty (586 AD), Sumpa had sent a tribute to the Chinese Central Goverment, and after wars with Tubo Kingdom, Sumpa also had several wars with Tianzhu (India) and Dangxiang tribe
The Demise of Sumpa Kingdom
When Songtsen Gampo’s grandfather “Tagri Nyanzi” was the king of Tubo Kingdom, the Sumpa Kingdom annexed another tribe. The tribe, which was annexed, was dissatisfied with Queen Sumpa’s domineering, and then secretly communicating with Tubo kingdom and preparing to come over and pledge allegiance
Soon after Songtsen Gampo’s father, Namri Songtsen, succeeded the throne of Tubo kingdom, he led a tens of thousands of fine soldiers to attack Sumpa kingdom, and soon defeated and occupied the capital of Sumpa Kingdom. Queen Sumpa was killed and her son fled. Later, Namri Songtsen Tsenpo was murdered by his subordinates, then Sumpa rebelled.
After Songtsen Gampo succeeded the throne, he moved his capital from Tsetang of Shannan City to Lhasa, and then sent troops to conquer Sumpa again. Sumpa, which lasted for seven or eight hundred years, was annexed by Tubo eventually.
The remainder of Sumpa was incorporated into Tubo Dynasty, and Sumpa Ru (Songbo Ru) was established. The Xiangqu and Jiqu river basins where the Sumpa people lived were divided into Wu-Ru and Ye-Ru respectively. In other words, the Sumpa people who originally lived in these areas, except for a small number of migration, most of the other people became people under the jurisdiction of Tubo dynasty, and later integrated into the Tubo as to be Tibetan
Remains of Sumpa in Modern Times
Sumpa’s culture had developed to a certain level, and it had made brilliant achievements in the fields of architecture and medicine. Later generations can also see traces of Sumpa culture in Tubo culture.
Today, there are “Sumpa Village” in Halazhigou Township of Huzhu County, and “Sumpa Gorge” and “Sumpa People” at the junction of Guide County and Jianzha County in Huangnan Prefecture. In Danba County of Sichuan Province, there are also Diaolou that inherited the Sumpa architectural style.