The title of Dalai Lama is first bestowed on Sonam Gyatso (15431588), the third hierarch of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, by the Mongolian prince Altan Khan, a descendent of the great Genghis Khan, in the sixteenth century. Because his two predecessors received the title posthumously, Sonam is called the Third Dalai Lama. His incarnation and successor, the Fourth Dalai Lama, is Mongolian and a relative of the Khan. In 1642, the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (16171682), is installed as the undisputed ruler of Tibet. He becomes both a great scholar and an able administrator, earning the nickname "the Great Fifth." The Fifth Dalai lama creates the Tibetan theocratic state with the Dalai Lama at its head. For a dozen years, news of his death is hidden from the Chinese Qing emperor Kangxi by the regent Sangye Gyatso. Gyatso's protégé, the Sixth Dalai Lama, accedes in 1695. In 1717, after years of unrest, the Chinese emperor finally installs the Seventh Dalai Lama and proclaims Tibet a Chinese protectorate. Although there are representatives of the Manchus in Tibet, the region is largely left to function independently and does so for the next 200 years.
Toward the end of the fifteenth century, Nepal is divided between the three sons of King Jayayakshamalla into three kingdoms: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan. Over the next 250 years, the three kingdoms go through a process of consolidation and splintering, culminating in the reunification of the country under the Gorkha king Prithvi Narayana Shah in 176869. Kathmandu becomes the capital of the Gorkha kingdom shortly thereafter.
1590A trade treaty between Nepal and Tibet is signed.
1642Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (16171682) is installed as the Fifth Dalai Lama and creates a great theocratic state in Tibet.
1645Construction begins on the Potala, the Dalai Lama's palace, built on a hill dominating Lhasa.
1717After years of unrest, the Chinese emperor finally installs the Seventh Dalai Lama and proclaims Tibet a Chinese protectorate.
176869The Gorkhas conquer the Kathmandu valley.
Breast defense (peytral) from a horse armor, 15th17th century
Tibetan or Mongolian
Leather, iron, brass or copper alloy, silver, gold, shellac, pigments, textile, and hair; H. 22 1/2 in. (57.2 cm), W. 25 5/8 in. (65.1 cm)
Purchase, Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Funds from various donors, by exchange, 1999 (1999.36)
Cavalry armor, 18th19th century
Tibetan, and possibly Bhutanese and Nepalese
Iron, gold, copper alloy, wood, leather, and textile
Bequest of George C. Stone, 1935 (36.25.25, .28, .351, .476, .583ac,hk, .842ac, .2174, .2461, .2505, .2557)
Bequest of Joseph V. McMullan, 1973 (1974.160.10 [saddle rug])
Gift of Mrs. Faïe J. Joyce, 1970 (1970.164.7a,b [boots])