a site of Oxford University with 6,000 old photographs of Tibet!
The True Face Of The Dalai Lama
by Kalovski at 4-2-8
The Three Masters
The Tibetan people called their rulers "the Three Great Masters" because the ruling class of
serf owners was organized into three institutions: the lama monasteries possessed 37 percent of
the cultivated land and pasture in old Tibet; the secular aristocracy 25 percent; and the
remaining 38 percent was in the hands of the government officials appointed by the Dalai Lama's advisors.
About 2 percent of Tibet's population was in this upper class, and an additional 3 percent were
their agents, overseers, stewards, managers of estates and private armies. The ger-ba, a tiny
elite of about 200 families, ruled at the top. Han Suyin writes: "Only 626 people held 93
percent of all land and wealth and 70 percent of all the yaks in Tibet. These 626 included 333
heads of monasteries and religious authorities, and 287 lay authorities (including the nobles of
the Tibetan army) and six cabinet ministers."
Merchants and handicraftsmen also belonged to a lord. A quarter of the population in the capital
city of Lhasa survived by begging from religious pilgrims. There was no modern industry or
working class. Even matches and nails had to be imported. Before the revolution, no one in Tibet
was ever paid wages for their work.
The heart of this system was exploitation. Serfs worked 16- or 18-hour days to enrich their
masterskeeping only about a quarter of the food they raised.
A. Tom Grunfeld writes: "These estates were extremely lucrative. One former aristocrat noted
that a 'small' estate would typically consist of a few thousand sheep, a thousand yaks, an
undetermined number of nomads and two hundred agricultural serfs. The yearly output would
consist of over 36,000 kg (80,000 lbs.) of grain, over 1,800 kg (4,000 lbs.) of wool and almost
500 kg (1,200 lbs.) of butter A government official had 'unlimited powers of extortion' and
could make a fortune from his powers to extract bribes not to imprison and punish people. There
was also the matter of extracting monies from the peasantry beyond the necessary taxes."
The ruling serf owners were parasites. One observer, Sir Charles Bell, described a typical
official who spent an hour a day at his official duties. Upper class parties lasted for days of
eating, gambling and lying around. The aristocratic lamas also never worked. They spent their
days chanting, memorizing religious dogma and doing nothing.
Originally from http://www.bestcyrano.org/cyrano/?p=507