Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture in Qinghai. The prefecture has an area of 188,794 km² and its capital is Gyêgu township (Gyêgu Zhen) in Yushu county, which is the place of the old Tibetan trade mart of Jyekundo (Gyêgu). The area belongs to the cultural realm of Kham in eastern Tibet.


Agricultural, trees, wheat, millet.


Ethnic groups in Yushu, 2005 Yushu Statistical Yearbook

Nationality Population Percentage
Tibetan 288,829 97.25%
Han 7,594 2.56%
Hui 295 0.01%
Monguor 138 <0.01%
Salar 64 <0.01%
Mongol 50 <0.01%
Manchu 22 <0.01%
Others 12 <0.01%
This statistics only includes the registered population, not the floating population which is estimated at about 50-60,000 for the entire prefecture.


The prefecture is subdivided into 6 county-level divisions: 6 counties:

Name Wylie Chinese Pinyin Area (km²) Inhabitants (2000) Administrative Seat
Yushu yus hru’u 玉树县 Yùshù Xiàn 13.462 77.854 Gyêgu (skye rgu mdo / Jiégǔ Zhèn 结古镇)
Zadhod rdza stod 杂多县 Záduō Xiàn 33.333 38.654 Qapugtang (bya phug thang / Sàhūténg Zhèn 萨呼腾镇)
Chindu khri ’du 称多县 Chēngduō Xiàn 13.793 40.391 Chuqung (gru chung / Zhōujūn Zhèn 周均镇)
Dridhod ’bri stod 治多县 Zhìduō Xiàn 66.667 24.194 Gyaijêpozhanggê (rgyal rje pho brang sked / Jiājíbóluògé Zhèn 加吉博洛格镇)
Nangchên nang chen 囊谦县 Nángqiān Xiàn 11.539 57.387 Xangda (shor mda’ / Xiāngdá Zhèn 香达镇) (historic region of Nangchen kingdom)
Qumarlêb chu dmar leb 曲麻莱县 Qǔmálái Xiàn 50.000 24.181 Yoigitan (Yuēgǎitān Zhèn 约改滩镇)

History and Traditional Culture

Monasticism Yushu prefecture is rich in Buddhist monasteries. Being a constituent of the former Nangchen kingdom, the area was, for most of the time, not under domination by the Dalai Lama’s Gelugpa order in Lhasa. The different balance of power in this part of Kham enabled the older Tibetan Buddhist orders to prevail in Yushu. Of the 195 pre-1958 lamaseries only 23 belonged to the Gelugpa.

An overwhelming majority of more than 100 monasteries followed and still follow the teachings of the various Kagyüpa schools, with some of their sub-sects only found in this part of Tibet. The Sakyapa were and are also strong in Yushu, with many of their 32 monasteries being among the most significant in Kham. The Nyingmapa’s monastic institutions amount to about the same number, while the Bönpo are only met with in one lamasery they share with the Nyingmapa.

Prior to collectivization in 1958, the entire monastic population of present-day Yushu TAP amounted to more than 25,000 Buddhist monks and nuns, with approximately 300 incarnate lamas among them. On the average about three to five per cent of the population were monastic, with a strikingly higher share in Nangqên county, where monks and nuns made up between 12 and 20 % of the community.

References and further reading

  • [1] Yushu Zangzu Zizhizhou Tongjiju [Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Statistics Bureau]: Yushu Tongjiju Nianjian 2005 [Yushu Statistical Yearbook 2005], Yushu 2006
  • A. Gruschke: The Cultural Monuments of Tibet’s Outer Provinces: Kham. Vol. 2 - The Yushu Part of Kham, Bangkok 2005 ISBN 974-480-049-6

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