The Nepal-Tibet Wars of 1788–92 and 1856

Thanks to an extremely fortunate development – the release of the documents of the Joshi Khana documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Archives to the National Archives in Kathmandu – a large corpus of materials on Tibet-Nepal relations has recently become available for research. A preliminary survey of these documents by Dr Saphalya Amatya shows that there are more than 300 bundles of Tibetan documents, with between 50 and 100 documents in each bundle. The Joshi Khana (also called Munzi Khana) was the office of the scribes who were responsible for maintaining correspondence with Tibet and China during the Shah and Rana periods. From the few examples that have been accessible in the past it is clear that these documents are written in the usual Tibetan administrative idiom (see Cüppers 1997). Besides their value for the lexicon they will shed much light on diplomatic relations between Tibet and Nepal and the history of the Tibet-Nepal wars of 1788–1792 and 1856. They will also provide an invaluable context for some of the archives from Mustang (see above), which include items of correspondence relating to the repatriation of Tibetan prisoners of war after these conflicts. The intervention of the Qing government after the Tibet-Nepal war, and the 1793 proclamation for the re-establishment of law and order, resulted in a stronger Qing influence in Tibetan administrative affairs. This influence lasted for some decades, but faded slowly till the time of the 13th Dalai Lama, when the Tibetan government tried to return to the administrative system established in the early days of the Ganden Phodrang.