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Title: Norzang  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Rinpungpa
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Norzang (? – 1466), in full Norbu Zangpo (Nor bu bzang po), was the founder of the power of the Rinpungpa Dynasty in Central Tibet.

Religious activities

Norzang was the son of Namkha Gyalpo, the chief of the Rinpung fief in Tsang (West Central Tibet). Namkha Gyalpo was one of the principal ministers of the Phagmodrupa dynasty, and the patron of the Tsangrong monastery. Norzang inherited his functions and completed the construction of the Chamchen temple. In religious matters he favoured the Sakya and Kagyud sects of Buddhism. According to a somewhat doubtful story a Sakya cleric, the Choje of Ngor, gave religious instructions to Norzang in return for the promise that the Rinpung lord would fulfil three wishes of the Choje. These were to force all members of the rival Geden sect to yield to Sakya, to put an end to the construction of a monastery directed by Gedun Drub (posthumously counted as the first Dalai Lama), and to supply provisions for the female servants of the new monastery at Ngor. Norzang refused the requests since they would cause disturbances.[1]

Taking power

When the king Drakpa Gyaltsen died in 1432 the succession of the Phagmodrupa thone was in doubt. The influential Norzang recommended that a revered abbot who was a member of the dynasty, the Chenga of Thel, should make the decision. The latter pointed out Drakpa Jungne, nephew of the deceased ruler.[2] In 1434 the old Chenga himself died and the Phagmodrupa were wrecked by a violent internal conflict when Drakpa Jungne’s father Sangye Gyaltsen tried to secure power at the expense of his own son. The disturbances enabled the Rinpungpa to take control over the strategic town Shigatse in Tsang in 1435. The place was headed by Norzang’s son Dondup Dorje.[3] Seeing this as an act of open defiance against the Phagmodrupa, the elites of Tsang began to ally with the Rinpungpa. Norzang brought various Tibetan petty princes under his authority.

Later years

In spite of the violent expansion of Norzang’s power, he continued to pay formal homage to the Phagmodrupa monarchs Drakpa Jungne (1432-45) and Kunga Lekpa (1448-81). A Rinpungpa lady was given to Kunga Lekpa as his wife. However, the marriage was unhappy, and Kunga Lekpa felt dissatisfied with Norzang’s behaviour when he made a tour in Tsang.[4] Norzang had five sons, namely Upasika, Kunzang, Dondup Dorje, Tsokye Dorje and Shakya Gyaltsen.[5] He died in 1466, and his death caused a temporary downturn in the fortunes of the Rinpungpa.[6]


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