The Monguors 蒙古尔 or Tu people 土族 (known as Hor pa in Tibetan) are located in what is now the Tuzu Autonomous District 土族自治县 of Qinghai 青海, north of Xining 西宁, between Xining and the Nanshan 南山 Mountains. Their main city is Huzhu 互助. The Monguors, who are also known as the White Mongols (Mong: Tsagaan Mongol) are, according to some scholars, the descendants of the Tuyuhun 吐谷浑 (Tib. Thu-lu-hun, or ’A-zha) people of the Kokonor region. The Tuyuhun Kingdom lasted from the beginning of the fourth century until the armies of central Tibet conquered it in the mid-seventh century.
Others assert that they are the descendants of the troops of Kolgen, Chinggis Khan’s sixth son. After the fall of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in China, they were the first Mongol group to submit to the Chinese Ming forces and collaborate with them. They were traditionally border guards for the Chinese, and later worked for the Manchus to try to bring the Mongols and Tibetans under Manchu/Chinese control. They follow the Gelug tradition.
[See: Tibetan History before the Fifth Dalai Lama, Part 4]
The Monguor region was the home of many of the main lamas in Beijing 北京 during the Manchu Qing period such as the First and Second Changkya Khutugtus (lCang-kya Ho-thog-tu), Tuken Losang Chokyi Nyima (Thu’u-bkvan Blo-bzang chos-kyi nyi-ma) and Chuzang Khutugtu (Chu-bzang Ho-thog-tu). It had many monasteries, the main ones of which were Gonlung (dGon-lung), Serkhog (gSer-khog) and Chuzang (Chu-bzang), all of which followed the Jetsunpa textbooks of Sera.
I visited the following monasteries in the district:
(1) Gonlung (Youning Si 佑宁寺), the home monastery of the Tuken Khutugtus (Tu’u-bkvan Ho-thog-tu) and Sumpa Khenpo (Sum-pa mKhan-po). The ten-year-old present Tuken Rinpoche still resides here. Previously the monastery had 500 monks and five datsang divisions: Tsen-nyi (mTshan-nyid) for debate, Gyu Mepa (rGyud sMad-pa) and Gyu Topa (rGyud sTod-pa) for tantra, Menba (sMan-pa) for medicine and Dukhor (Dus-’khor) for Kalachakra and astrology. At present it has 200 monks, with a general Gyupa (rGyud-pa) division for tantra and the main tsogchen (Tshogs-chen) temple/assembly hall used for the tsen-nyi debate division. Its protector temple is dedicated to Gyalpo Ku Nga (rGyal-po sku-lnga) or Nechung.
(2) Chuzang (Quezang Si 却藏寺), with 20 monks, performs tantric rituals and has no debate. It has only the old Chuzang Labrang (Chu-bzang bLa-brang) standing and one new temple.
(3) Martsang (dMar-gtsang, Baima Si 白马寺), the cave monastery where the three Central Tibetan monks lived who gave ordination to Gonpa Rabsel (dGon-pa rab-gsal), and where Gonpa Rabsel died. At present it has only two old monks, doing tantric rituals.