The Derge lineage is said to stem from the Gar clan through Gar Tongtsen Yulzung, a minister of the Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo. His great-grandson Lhaje Jampai Pel moved from central Tibet to Khams in the early ninth century, settling his family in Ling. Likely originally patrons of the Bon, in the twenty-third generation the family first established a connection with the Sakya hierarchy, when the patriarch Zhonnu Dorje studied under Sakya Paṇḍita. His grandson, Sonam Rinchen, served Pakpa as an attendant and received a Yuan commission for Samar, to the south of present-day Derge. Pakpa called the site a place of "four accomplishments and ten virtues" (sde bzhi dge bcu), a phrase that was shortened to sde dge and adopted by the family. Their seat moved several times before being established in its current location in the fifteenth century by Botar Lodro Tobden.