Surmang refers to a vast alpine nomadic and farming region, historically a duchy under the King of Nangchen, with vast land holdings spreading over what is today the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province. In Tibetan King of Nangchen's realm was called the "nyishu dza nga" or the 21 (provinces). Since 1959 it is mainly within the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province in China. Yushu Prefecture is 97% ethnic Tibetan. The Surmang region is one of the poorest regions in China ranking it among the world's highest infant and maternal mortality, almost 100% illiteracy, and personal income of less than US 14¢/day. It is part of the catchment in China of the 30 million ultra-poor.
Prior to his birth
Prior to his birth on 30 June 1965, Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche (Tibetan: ཟུར་མང་གར་དབང་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་, Wylie: zur mang gar dbang rin po che) was recognized by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa as the twelfth incarnation of the Gharwang Tulkus and as an emanation of Tilopa. He is the supreme lineage holder of the Zurmang Ear Whispered Lineage (zur mang snyan rgyud).
The Gharwang Tulkus line
The unbroken line of the Gharwang Tulkus begins in the 14th .