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The four Kalöns of Kashag in 1938-39

The Kashag (Tibetan: བཀའ་ཤག ་Wylie: bkaʼ-shag, ZYPY: Gaxag, Lhasa dialect IPA: [Tibetan pronunciation: [káɕaʔ]]; Chinese: 噶廈; pinyin: gáxià) was the governing council of Tibet during the rule of the Qing dynasty and post-Qing period until 1950s. It was created in 1721,[1] and set by Qianlong Emperor in 1751 for the Ganden Phodrang regime. In that year the Tibetan government was reorganized after the riots in Lhasa of the previous year. The civil administration was represented by Council (Kashag) after the 7th Dalai Lama abolished the post of Desi (or Regent; see: dual system of government), in whom too much power had been placed.[2][3][4]

The Council administrated matters of private and national interests. It was constituted of three temporal officials and one monk official. Each of them held the title of Kalön (Tibetan: བཀའ་བློན་Wylie: bkaʼ-blon, Lhasa dialect IPA: [kálø ̃]; Chinese: 噶倫; pinyin: gálún).

The function of the Council was to express opinions about matters or problems concerning the civil administration of the country and to present these opinions to the office of the first minister. The first minister then presented these opinions to the Dalai Lama and, during the Qing Dynasty the Amban, for a final decision. The privilege of presenting recommendations for appointing executive officials, governors and district commissioners gave the Council a lot of power.


Organizational chart of Ganden Phodrang

Headed by the Council was the government administration, divided into ministries: political, military, economic, judicial, foreign, financial and educational departments. Except for the Ministry of Finance (Tibetan: རྩིས་ཁང་Wylie: rtsis-khang, Lhasa dialect IPA: [tsíkaŋ]; Chinese: 商上; pinyin: shāngshàng), all ministries had two representatives – one temporal and one monastic. The Ministry of Finance had three lay officials. Each of them held the title of Tsipön (Tibetan: རྩིས་དཔོན་Wylie: rtsis-dpon, Lhasa dialect IPA: [tsípø ̃]; Chinese: 仔琫; pinyin: zīběng). All ministries had a right to make decisions to the extent of their competence. Matters, or problems outside the competence of ministries were (with a particular ministry’s given opinion) presented to the Council. Everything outside the competence of the Council was presented to the Dalai Lama himself.

Central Tibetan Administration[edit]

The Kashag has been maintained to the present time by the Central Tibetan Administration, the government-in-exile maintained in Dharamsala, India. The head of the Kashag was known as Kalön Tripa until September, 2012, when the title was changed to Sikyong. This position, sometimes referred to informally as the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, became an elected position in 2001. In 2011, shortly after the election of Lobsang Sangay and upon the resignation of the Dalai Lama as the overall leader of the CTA, the head of the Kashag became the highest political official in the Tibetan exile community.

According to Michael Backman, notable past members of the Cabinet include Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama's eldest brother, who served as Chairman of the Cabinet and as Minister of Security, and Jetsun Pema, the Dalai Lama's younger sister, who served variously as Minister of Health and of Education.[5]


  1. ^ Dawa Norbu, China's Tibet Policy
  2. ^ Seventh Dalai Lama Kelsang Gyatso
  3. ^ The Dalai Lamas of Tibet, p. 101. Thubten Samphel and Tendar. Roli & Janssen, New Delhi. (2004). ISBN 81-7436-085-9.
  4. ^ Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa, Tibet, a Political History (New Haven: Yale, 1967), 150.
  5. ^ Backman, Michael (2007-03-23). "Behind Dalai Lama's holy cloak". The Age. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 

See also[edit]