The History of Ruoergai
Unfolding a map of China, you can find a place called Ruoergai in the west of China. Before the tourism booms, few people knew about it. After all, China has a vast territory with over two thousand counties, so who cares about such a small county? Nowadays, as human beings begin to admire and experience nature in various ways, Ruoergai has come to the mind of more people by virtue of its beauty. Much information concerning Ruoergai can be seen on the Internet or in magazines or in photos taken by photographers. However, Ruoergai is still quite unfamiliar to many people.
Located on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, northwest of Sichuan province, Ruoergai is bounded on the northwest by the Têwo County, north by the Luqu County and west by the Maqu County in Gansu Province. It has a vast territory of 10204 km2, which is even larger than some countries. Though Rouergai is famous for its grasslands, high mountains accounts the most parts. Let’s see how many mountains there are in the mid-west of hills and plains. The Rierlang Mountain is in the north of Reer Dam grassland, ranging from the Maixi Township in the west to the Bengba Ditch of Reer Township in the east with an extension of more than 40 km. But the exuberant forests in the northern and eastern Rierlang Mountain haven’t been visited yet, and we’ll introduce the specific sightseeing here in the following section.
It’s hard to say whether Ruoergai is mainly centered on mountains or on grassland. As a matter of fact, there are 26 mountains with an altitude of over 4000 meters within the border of the Ruoergai County, such as the Laguo Mountain, Rierlang Mountain, Tenizha Mountain, Gawoza Mountain, etc. Then how about the mountains with an altitude of over 3000m? However, both are the important tourism resources of the Ruoergai County. We hold that the more complicated the natural environment of a place or a region is, the more diversified its tourism resources are, and the Ruoergai County is endowed with such complexity and diversity.
Beyond the mountains are hills and Dams, of which the Reer Dam is the most well-known one in the northern Ruoergai. With an area of more than 3.2 million acres, the Reer Dam altogether with the Baihe Pasture and Axizaxitang is China's major grassland, and the three dams form the most charming grassland scenery within the border of Ruoergai.
How about the rivers in Ruoergai? The watershed of China’s two large rivers, Yangtze River and Yellow River, is formed in Ruoergai. The White River and Black River belong to the Yellow River System, while the Bailong River and Qiuji River are of Yangtze River System. These ranches have provided abundant water for the two main rivers and created a rich landscape. In addition, there are many lakes and groundwater forming a pluralistic landscape. These are certainly the miracles of nature itself, and those who are born and brought up here then create the rich folk culture. Thus, the tourism resource can be not only the natural mountains and waters but also the charming human landscape.
Just like the way we talk about cities and regions, we should also talk about the history of Ruoergai.
In the Western Zhou Dynasty, Ruoergai belonged to Qiang nationality, involving human activities in a clan society. In the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States period, after Qin conquered six states, its cavalries marched to the west so that the ancient Qiang people who hadn't formed a state were defeated and scattered, and several armies flee to the present Ruoergai County.
Finally, Qin’s army stopped moving forward, and people in the Ruoergai County still led a life without a monarch. Being proud of the strong and advocating force, this area still belonged to the Western Qiang and was still governed by the previous Qiang nationality until the Western Jin Dynasty. But by the Eastern Jin Dynasty, the chief leader Yao Chang had founded the later Qin Dynasty (the year of 384—417) in the present Qiuji Township and Tiebu Township in the Ruoergai County, and the rest parts were under the jurisdiction of the Tuyuhun Tribe. Meanwhile Qifu Guoren of Xianbei nationality established the Western Qin (the year of 385-431). Since then, this region got into strife. By the southern and Northern Dynasties, the Dangxiang People had been the host here.
According to the Stories of the Dangxiang People in the Northern Dynasty, Dangxiang was bounded on the east by Songzhou (present Songpan in Sichuan province), on the west by Yehu (present Karghalik in Xinjiang), on the south by Chunsang and Misang and on the north by Tuyuhun. It was recorded in the Stories of the Dangxiang People in the Northern Dynasty, “Tribes can vary with family names. Each chieftain can possess a tribe, and they don’t interfere in each other”. And as ancestors of the natives of the present Ruoergai County, residents mainly of Zha, Zhi, Dang and Mygar family dwelt in the Hequ County and the Minshan Mountain.
It was under the rule of Srongtsen Gampo’s that Ruoergai became a part of Tibet. In Tang Dynasty in 638, the Tibetan regime was established on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Tibetan king Srongtsen Gampo commanded an army to the east and defeated the Dangxiang army, so the Jimi State that the Tang Dynasty founded existed in name only. By the year of 641, Tang and Tibet had buried the hatchet by marriages and united to conquer Tuyuhun. In the early period of Guangde in Tang Dynasty(763—764), the jurisdiction of Tibet Dynasty included the Huangshui River to the south and Songzhoou to the north under the management of chancellor Mygar Qinling, Mygar Yixidaerji, etc. When the Tibet Dynasty collapsed, the Mygar family took charge of this area. The name of Ruoergai was also related with the Mygar family. At that time, it was the descendant of Mygar Yixidaerji who was in charge of taxes, so the men-in-the-street called him “Ruogai” which was later used for a place name. Due to the glide of Zang language, “Ruogai” was usually pronounced “Ruoergai” and it was handed down up to now.
Later, this region was under the control of the Song Dynasty and occupied by the army of Kublai in AD 1253. The emperor of the Yuan Dynasty believed in Tibetan Buddhism and appointed Phagspa as the national preacher. In 1276, Phagspa appointed himself as the first prince of Dharma, and ordered Benqin to lead 130 million Tibetan households.
Later, the Ming government established Songpanwei in this area, including the present Aba County and Ruoergai County, and Axidongcu Naga Ji in the Axirong Township of the Ruoergai County. In the early period of Qing Dynasty, due to the vast territory, it was until all the tribes yielded to the Qing Dynasty that Songpanwei ruled these counties again. Even so, there were still some tribes establishing their own regimes, and it was in the second year of Yong Zheng period (the year of 1724）that the Qing Dynasty governed the Ruoergai County and the tribes completely.The Qing court appointed officials for all tribal leaders, including 6 native chieftains in charge of an army of about one thousand soldiers and 16 of about one hundred soldiers. But their direct leadership was still Songpanwei.
During the Republic of China era, the Ruoergai County had been under the governance of the Songpan County.
From 1935 to 1936, the Chinese workers' and peasants' Red Army had passed by Ruoergai for three times during the Long March of twenty-five thousand kilometers, leaving behind many revolutionary remains, such as the famous site of the Baozuo Battle and the Brazil Conference. In 1949, the People’s Republic of China was formally founded. In August of the following year, the CPC prefectural Party Committee Working Group in the Mao County carried out the work for the first time, during which the People's Liberation Army bravely fought with the remaining armies of National Party and wiped out many in Ruoergai. In the history of China’s revolution, Ruoergai has left a heroic chapter.
As time goes by, a few Ruoergai County has come into being. Since the foundation as a county in July 1953, it has gone from being poor to being rich. The ups and downs that it has experienced for 63 years are 63 pages of splendid chapters. Fundamental changes have taken place in the Ruoergai County, especially in such an era when the tourism booms, and it displays its vitality and vigor like the thriving wildlife in spring. We can’t resist its beauty coming into our view. We record its miracle and beauty with images and words, which we want to present to the world in hope that more people could know about and pay attention to Ruoergai—a charming and fantastic plateau.