Garze: land of glory (I)

Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Sichuan province is named after one of its counties which is called Garze County. However, the prefectural capital is not in Garze County, but in Kangding.

Photo shows Garze's pastoral scenery.

As early as in the 19th century, China established the Xikang Province. Garze, Kangding, Bathang, and Chamdo were listed as four possible provincial capital cities, with Kangding eventually being selected. In November 1950, after the founding of New China, the first ethnic autonomous prefecture was established in Kangding, called the "Xikang Province Tibetan Autonomous Region". In 1955, Xikang Province was canceled and absorbed into Sichuan Province.

In April of that year, Kangding happened to suffer a large earthquake. The prefectural government planned to move to Garze, a more stable area, thus the prefecture officially changed its name to "Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture". However, the prefectural government did not end up moving, but the name "Garze Prefecture" was retained.

Photo shows the Commander of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Zhu De with the fifth Geda Rinpoche.

Garze has a history of being the sole route for trade. Famous photographer Sun Mingjing wrote in his 1939 Notes on Xikang that according to Zhang Jialin, the Garze County Magistrate at the time, more than 300 families lived in Garze town, of which one third was Han Chinese. Out of 26 major merchants, eight were originally from Shaanxi, seven from Sichuan, seven were temple merchants, and two were local chieftains. During the war for liberation, after the Red Army reached Garze, Commander Zhu De lived in Old North Street in Garze town for a few weeks. This historical building has been preserved to this day.