About THL > Introductions > Tibetan Monasteries Resources > Tibetan Monasteries Intro
Monasteries and clans were the most important social institutions in historical Tibet. Monasteries have been dominant since the establishment of Samyé in the eight century. Monasteries were complex social institutions functioning as schools, vocational training centers, factories, banks, local governments, tax collectors, libraries, publishers, museums, contemplative centers, ritual services providers, pilgrimage sites, and medical clinics. Large monasteries had complex internal organizations in a hierarchy of colleges, regional houses, and other units. Externally, monasteries often had complex relationships to other religious institutions based on sectarian affiliation, or closer relationships of “mother” and “son”/“branch” institutions.