see Tibetan Religion
Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet by Matthew Kapstein, Brandon Dotson (Brill's Tibetan Studies Library: Brill) Early medieval Tibet remains one of the most challenging fields in Tibetan Studies overall, wherein numerous mysteries remain. The six contributions comprising the present collection shed light on major topics in history, literature and religion.
The study of the rise and institutions of the Tibetan empire of the seventh to ninth centuries, and of the continuing development of Tibetan civilization during the obscure period that followed, have aroused growing interest among scholars of Inner Asia in recent decades. The six contributions presented here represent refinements in substance and method characterizing current work in this area. A chapter by Brandon Dotson provides a new perspective on law and divination under the empire, while the post-imperial international relations of the Tsong kha kingdom are analyzed by Bianca Horlemann. In "The History of the Cycle of Birth and Death", Yoshiro Imaeda's investigation of a Dunhuang narrative appears in a revised edition, in English for the first time. The problem of oral transmission in relation to the Tibetan Dunhuang texts is then taken up in the contribution of Sam van Schaik. In the final section, Matthew Kapstein and Carmen Meinert consider aspects of Chinese Buddhism in their relation to religious developments in Tibet.
In part one, 'Social and Political History', the contributors examine key aspects of Tibetan imperial administration and post-imperial affairs. The first chapter, by Brandon Dotson, applies a social-historical approach to Old Tibetan legal documents, encoded within which the values and practices of the Tibetan Empire, and its rigid social stratification, are revealed. They also shed much light on such topics as Tibetan marriage and exchange patterns, loan contracts, corvée labour, the legal status of Buddhist temples and monasteries, and the conscription system of the Tibetan military. Strong centralization appears to have been the rule under the empire of the btsan po, and the diffuse 'galactic polity' that came to characterize later Tibetan regimes is hardly at all in evidence. One of the most intriguing aspects of Dotson's chapter is the revelation that legal cases were often resolved with recourse to divination dice. Divination was a popular and widespread practice during the imperial period, and is discussed in Old Tibetan ritual texts in which ritual specialists known as bon and gshen employ mo divination in their healing rites.
With the empire's disintegration in the mid-ninth century, power devolved upon local authorities and strongmen, who took charge not just of the governance of their domains, but equally of their external relationships. Tibet, in effect, became for a time a cluster of independent principalities. Bianca Horlemann's chapter focuses upon the Inner Asian connections of one such realm, that of Tsong-kha in the northeastern region of Amdo. Though far removed from Tibet's traditional central districts of Dbus-Gtsang, the effort to recapitulate aspects of Tibet's earlier imperial configuration is evident in the later claim that Tsong-kha's rulers were descended from the Yar-lung kings and the attribution to them, accordingly, of the title of btsan po.
As prior studies have shown, the rise of the Tibetan Empire occasioned not only changes of power relations, but equally changes of knowledge, requiring new technologies associated with the spread of literacy:2 the redaction of legal procedure considered by Dotson offers a case in point. The ways and means of the transmission of knowledge during this period, however, are still but poorly under stood. The two chapters of part two, 'Literary and Oral Transmissions', take up several dimensions of the question.
Yoshiro Imaeda's reconstruction and translation of the Dunhuang Tibetan text, History of the Cycle of Birth and Death, is already well known through its original French publication in 1981. In presenting it here in a revised English version, it is to be hoped that it will reach a larger readership than it had previously. As with Dotson's discussion of the close relationship between administrative and ritual functions, early Tibetan ritual is also central to Imaeda's chapter in its consideration of funerary practices. The study of Old Tibetan mortuary rites, an especially interesting subfield within the overall cultural history of early Tibet, was essentially pioneered by M. Lalou, whose treatment of PT 1042, concerning royal funerals, paved the way for the documentary investigation of such issues as the rivallry of bon po and Buddhist, and the competition of ritual specialists for royal patronage. Nevertheless, research in this area has often rested on the problematic assumption that the bon and bonpo found in Old Tibetan literary texts were more or less identical to the adherents of the Bon religion, as systematized in about the early eleventh century.
Among the Dunhuang manuscripts, we find several texts concerning, or related to, funeral rites. Most of these contain narratives in which the dead are attended by ritual specialists known as bon or gshen, and often involve the sacrifice of sheep and horses as psychopomp animals that guide the deceased to the land of the dead.5 While some of these texts display no apparent Buddhist influence, others do, and one Buddhist text famously co-opts and transforms early Tibetan funerary rites in order to do away with such practices as animal sacrifice. This dialogue between Buddhism and local traditions is a common theme throughout Buddhist history, and is particularly pertinent to its Tibetan permutations, where issues of religious identity are so often bound up with dialogic evolution and mimicry? Situated within the context of these competing funerary rites, Imaeda's text, the History of the Cycle of Birth and Death is, he argues, a purely Tibetan composition inspired by one of the masterpieces of Mahayana literature, the Gandavyuhasutra, a work that enjoyed tremendous success in medieval China. As such, the History is based not on the transformation and co-opting of existing non-Buddhist rites, but takes Buddhist canonical tradition as its point of departure, and then popularizes this for a Tibetan audience. The transposition of its story into a Tibetan verse-narrative offers particularly striking evidence of the processes whereby Buddhist ideas and literary motifs were assimilated into the Tibetan cultural milieu.
Imaeda's work is based upon a number of Dunhuang manuscripts, all of which are incomplete. And where they overlap with one another, although the texts generally correspond quite closely, one notices numbers of variants that cannot be readily explained with reference to scribal practice alone. How are we to think about the variation that we find in the extant Old Tibetan documents? It is this question that is taken up in Sam van Schaik's chapter, applying the conclusions of investigations of medieval oral and literary transmission to the study of early Tibetan texts. Van Schaik argues that the simple dichotomy of the oral versus the literary fails to do justice to the complexity of the Tibetan situation, where, just as in medieval Europe, oral practice and writing in various ways were mutually informed and conditioned. In the scenario that van Schaik envisions as having given rise to some of these texts—students taking down the words of their teachers either in person or from memory—the patterns of variation in early Tibetan texts are seen to resemble somewhat those that we find in English traditional ballads. And considering the structured repetitions characterizing a work such as the History of the Cycle of Birth and Death, studied by Imaeda, the comparison with Western ballad traditions seems a compelling one.
Though the transmission of Indian Buddhist traditions to Tibet, both under the empire and for many centuries after, has long been a key theme in the representation of Tibetan cultural history, we know that Chinese learning, religious and secular, reached imperial Tibet as well. Part three, 'Chinese Trends in Tibetan Buddhism', explores this east-to-west movement of texts and ideas.
Matthew T. Kapstein's chapter, 'The Tibetan Yulanpen jing', supplies a textual study of the ninth-century Tibetan translation of a famous Chinese Buddhist apocryphon, thus extending a line of research pioneered by the late R.A. Stein. As a close comparison of the Chinese and Tibetan texts reveals, the translator, the famed 'Gos Chos-grub of Dunhuang, gave to this short sutra, which concerns rites to be performed for the salvation of deceased parents and ancestors, an almost impeccable Indian veneer. Nevertheless, the work's Chinese antecedents remain evident in several key turns of phrase. The transmission of the Yulanpen jing to Tibet, moreover, suggests that Chinese 'popular' Buddhism, and not only the more rarified traditions of learning and meditation, may have played some role in the Tibetan adoption of the foreign religion.
As with the History of the Cycle of Birth and Death, in connection with which the question of 'apocryphal' Buddhist scriptures is also raised, the action in the Yulanpen jing is driven by the death of one's parents. The orientation of the two works is similar as well: as Imaeda notes in his conclusions, the History of the Cycle of Birth and Death, in common with the other early Tibetan funerary texts, appears to have been concerned more with transcendent rebirth than with enlightenment and 'precious human birth'. The same can be said of the Yulanpen jing, in which the Buddha prescribes the proper rites for securing the rebirth of Mulian's parents and ancestors in heavenly abodes.In Carmen Meinert's contribution, however, we turn to the refined meditations of Chinese Chan, and their plausible connections with the Tibetan Great Perfection, or Rdzogs-chen. Although this issue has aroused considerable speculation in recent decades, only slight progress has been made in grounding the discussion in solid philological evidence. It is this that Meinert begins to accomplish, through the careful comparison of selected Chan and Rdzogs-chen documents from Dunhuang, demonstrating precisely their complex relationships. Meinert's analysis, like that proposed recently by S. van Schaik and J. Dalton, describes the creative evolution of religious practices between China and Tibet in multi-ethnic Dunhuang. Here, trends such as Chan, Mahayoga and Rdzogs-chen enjoyed a degree of fluidity prior to their codification as distinct systems of teaching. Meinert's doctrinal analysis is complemented by van Schaik's observations on oral tradition, which allow us to imagine a time of creative exuberance when, as in van Schaik's phrasebook, one adept might meet another and exclaim, 'I like Vajrayana. Teach it!'
Manual of Standard Tibetan: Language and Civilization: Introduction to Standad Tibetan (Spoken and Written) Followed by an Appendix on Classical Literary Tibetan by Nicolas Tournadre (Snow Lion) presents the everyday speech of Lhasa as it is currently used in Tibet as well as amongst the Tibetan diaspora. It aims not only to place the language in its natural context, but also to highlight along the way key aspects of Tibetan civilization and Vajrayana Buddhism.
Manual of Standard Tibetan: Language and Civilization, which consists of forty-one lessons, is illustrated with many drawings and photographs, and also includes two previously unpublished maps. Two CDs provide an essential oral complement to the Manual. A detailed introduction presents a linguistic overview of spoken and written Tibetan, and a lengthy appendix outlines the differences between literary and spoken Tibetan.
Tibetan Civilization is rich and fascinating. Over the years both nomads and settled peoples of the high plateau have developed a culture that in many respects has a universal appeal. Apart from Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, the medicine, astrology, iconography, architecture, poetry, grammar and music of the Land of the Snows have all gained a reputation which extends far beyond the Himalayas. The impact of Tibetan Civilization has for centuries been felt in Central Asia. It has been influential in China, Mongolia, Buryatia, Nepal, northern India, and even in the European part of Russia, particularly in Kalmykia.
It is worth drawing attention to several little-known facts about Tibetan language and literature. Many Buddhist texts have survived only in Tibetan, while their Chinese and Indian versions have been lost. Tibetan language offers a route to Buddhism and an entry point to under-standing this religious philosophy. Tibetan literature is extremely rich in this area, whether it be indigenous to Tibet, or coming from translations from Sanskrit or Chinese. Lamas, the keepers of a living tradition, continue to explain and elaborate these texts.
Whether lay or religious, the body of Tibetan literature is vast and the majority of texts have not yet been translated. It also manifests striking originality, a world rich in symbolism, and a poetic tradition of remarkable beauty. The Epic of Gesar, celebrated throughout Central Asia and rivalling Gilgamesh as one of the greatest epics of the world, is written in Tibetan. Modern Tibetan literature, although barely known, is very much alive. Contemporary texts, particularly poems and short stories, abound.
Finally, Tibet is at a crossroads between the Indian, Chinese and Mongol cultures. At the same time, besides Buddhism, it has seen the development of a religion unique to the area, Bon.
To sample these literary treasures or even just to address a monk, a yogin perched in a cave at 5,000 meters altitude or a Tibetan trader, or to talk to a nomad letting fly his sling over the turquoise lakes, you have to be able to speak the language of Milarapa and Gesar, the vehicle of this culture.
This Manual of Standard Tibetan: Language and Civilization is for all those who want to learn spoken and written Tibetan.
Tibetan contains a number of particular difficulties, mainly at the level of syntax' and semantics. One of the fundamental features of Tibetan verbs is that they distinguish systematically between intentional and unintentional actions. Moreover, the ubiquity of agentive (or "ergative") constructions in which it is the agent, not the object, that is marked, sometimes creates the disconcerting impression that it is an entirely "passive" language. For example, the sentence "Lobzang drank the tea" would be translated into Tibetan as lopsang-ki' cha tung-song, which means literally "By Lobzang drank tea".
Generally speaking, Tibetan syntax is very different from that of European languages, though it does bear certain resemblances to the syntax of Hindi, Mongol, Japanese and Korean. The word order "subject-object-verb", which pertains also in subordinate clauses, often means that to understand a sentence we have to turn it "inside-out", and work backwards from the end. This being said, Tibetan syntax is completely logical and accessible once a certain number of new rules and novel ideas have been taken on board.' This entails making a certain terminological investment, which will be quickly recouped in the form of easier progress and more thorough comprehension. The grammatical information has been presented as simply as possible in order to make the language accessible to anyone who has a reasonable grasp of English grammar.
Regarding pronunciation, the Manual of Standard Tibetan: Language and Civilization uses a very readable transcription that employs no special signs, and which can be used without any knowledge of IPA (the International Phonetic Alphabet).
The problems presented by Tibetan (other than syntax) fall into two main categories: those relating to the oral and to the literary language. As far as oral Tibetan is concerned, the phonetic system and the system of auxiliary verbs are relatively complicated, but the main obstacles can be overcome by working through the exercises provided in each lesson, and by means of regular practice. For written Tibetan, the absence of any separation between words, as well as a very archaic spelling (comparable to that of English or French) make reading hard going at the beginning, but the difficulties are relatively minor and by no means insurmountable.
And finally, the good news: Tibetan verbs involve no agreement in gender, number or per-son (except the first person in certain cases). Furthermore, the declension of nouns is very easy: cases are formed by association with suffixes, and the basic term remains unchanged.
Tibetan Verb Lexicon: Verbs, Classes, and Syntactic Frames by Paul G. Hackett (Snow Lion) This is the first Tibetan-English verb resource to be published in more than thirty years. It is a verb dictionary containing extensive lexical information. Much more than a mere translation of existing works, this lexicon was compiled employing statistical techniques and data, and draws on sources spanning the 1,200 years of Tibet's classical literature and covering all major lineages.
The lexicon contains over 1,700 root verb forms and phrasal verb sub-entries, and incorporates a wide range of information not previously available in dictionary form. The individual entries contain English meanings, Sanskrit equivalents, complete sentences drawn from the corpus of Tibetan classical literature, and related sentence structure information. An extensive introduction to contemporary linguistic theory as applied to Tibetan verbs presents the theoretical underpinnings of the lexicon.
The information presented in this book was initially compiled as a resource lexicon recording the syntactic features of Tibetan verbs for the purposes of computational linguistic analysis and the automatic processing of Tibetan text. Although envisioned for use by anyone interested in the computer processing of Tibetan, the principles presented and classificatory scheme used are equally amenable to the human processing of Tibetan text as well. Both uses, however, derive from Translating Buddhism from Tibetan by Joe Wilson (Snow Lion Publications) whose presentation of Tibetan grammar, and familiarity with Wilsons book is strongly encouraged.
A unique feature of Tibetan literature is its unprecedented level of morphological, grammatical, and semantic consistency over the span of more than twelve centuries, from the earliest translations of the bka"gyur and bstan 'gyur through to compositions of the twentieth century. This book, therefore, is about normative Tibetan grammar, and reflects an analysis of texts written by educated Tibetan scholars well-versed in their literature. Although this book does not address the analysis of texts "written" by illiterate authors or pre-standard Tibetan (e.g., such as found amongst the Tun-huang manuscripts), students of Tibetan literature wishing to venture into those fields should also find this book of use in that the recognition of deviant grammatical forms implies a knowledge of standard grammatical patterns.
Part I presents key background information for the full use and under-standing of this book and the information contained in it. These are concepts in the fields of contemporary linguistics and Natural Language Processing (NLP) of relevance to Tibetan that have guided the research of which this verb lexicon is a major portion and outgrowth. Incorporated in this discussion is an over-view of terms and classical categories in Sanskrit and English grammar and guides to their applicability to Tibetan.
The core of the book is Part II: The Verbs and is sorted in Tibetan alphabetical order by the present tense of the verb with past, future, and imperative forms following (with alternate spellings indicated parenthetically). Although traditional Tibetan verb ordering is future, present, and past, due to morphological ambiguity in the future tense form of some verbs, the present tense was chosen for default ordering of the lexicon.
With regard to the content of the entries themselves, the initial source verb lists were several Tibetan lexical sources, although the verification of morphological variations over tense, the classifications, the translations, and the derivations of syntactic information rely heavily on documented observations (over several years) of the range of syntactic usage in Tibetan literature coupled with statistical sampling of texts .4 From these investigations the verb class determination for each verb was made, and is given immediately following the root verb (verbs which fall into more than one verb class are separated into distinct entries and marked with homograph numbers). Syntactic information was likewise derived from this research, and accompanies examples that illustrate the different subcategorization frames. A guide to the syntactic abbreviations used in the entries precedes the lexicon itself.
Many Tibetan verbs are polysemous, that is, they possess multiple meanings. These meanings can be grouped into three categories: those which are semantically close in scope or domain-dependent, object-dominated verbal collocations, and translation divergences. In this lexicon these categories are reflected in the following manner for each verb entry. Meanings which are semantically close in scope, or domain-dependent, are given first together with usage examples.
Meanings which are adverbially modified or semantically object-dominated are verbal collocations, and are presented next, separately with their own examples (with optional syllables indicated parenthetically). Some verbal collocations derive from adverbial modifications, while others may be thought of as a special sub-group of domain-dependent meanings in that, although their meaning is heavily dominated by the object they take, the dominance is so extreme that they only occur with a single unique object and bear a unique connotation.
Included in the category of verbal collocations are examples of translation divergences, although they technically are not verbal collocations. Such translation divergences are uses of the root verb which give rise to incommensurate syntactic mappings between Tibetan and English.
Concerning the tense of verbal collocations provided in Part H of the book, it should be noted that there has been no attempt made to standardize collocations according to tense. In Tibetan, there can be morphological variation over the body of a collocation with a shift in tense. Moreover, in some languages, variance in word sense is observed across tense both in verbs andverbal collocations. Until standard variation patterns in collocation morphology are identified or theses regarding sense-tense correlation in Tibetan are proven or disproven, verbal collocations are listed as attested, with precedence only given to the present tense form when it is attested as well. In instances where the present tense has not been attested, verbal collocations are given in the tense which accords with the example provided.
Many entries in Part II contain Sanskrit equivalents in addition to examples (with intentionally literal translations) demonstrating syntactic usage. Since equivalents of Sanskrit words are also seen to vary with Sanskrit conjugation forms, many forms of the same Sanskrit root are also given. Citations to both the Sanskrit equivalents and sources of these examples are listed following Part III prior to the Bibliography. The notation for identified syntactic structures is given at the beginning of Part II.
In addition, Part III provides an index to all verb tenses, giving the present tense form to be referred to in Part H.
Where This Book Departs from Translating Buddhism from Tibetan by Joe Wilson (Snow Lion Publications)
The auther not consider this book to contradict or supersede Joe Wilson's text. However, during the course of implementing Wilson's grammar in a computational environment, certain formulaic additions and supplementary distinctions were perceived to be advantageous. From that perspective, they are included here. Chief among these additions is an expanded discussion of verbal collocations (referred to as "phrasal verbs" by Wilson) and translation divergences (drawing on the work of Bonnie Dorr). Other distinctions made include the explicit recognition of various distinct syntactic patterns and particles including the locative absolute construction, certain verb participles, and additional differentiations in labeling syntactic particles. All of these are explained in Part I.
Translating Buddhism from Tibetan by Joe Wilson (Snow Lion Publications). Although I shall repeatedly refer to Wilson's text as a presentation of Tibetan grammar, it is, more accurately speaking, a presentation of Tibetan grammar that incorporates Tibetan-English transfer rules. Hence, the book's structure takes the form of a pedagogical textbook rather than a strictly theoretical analysis and, consequently, is considered superior to other presentations of Tibetan grammar in terms of its ease of implementation in a computational environment. A guide to his and other abbreviations used in this book, is provided at the beginning of Part H.
2 Some scholars have objected to the use of Sanskrit or Latin equivalent grammatical terms in reference to Tibetan lingustic categories. I do not consider their objections to be substantially grounded. It has been well documented that Tibetans themselves have relied heavily on Sanskritic linguistic categories in their own formulations of Tibetan grammar categories which have also been well-defined by the Tibetans themselves in terms comparable to many Latin equivalents (Wilson, op.cit., p.216). Consequently, in addition to refering to Joe Wilson's verb classes and syntactic case marking particles, I will use these Latinate terms freely in the body of this text, pausing to define only the terms which may be more obscure to an English speaker or which possess a distinctive connotation for Tibetan.
Tibetan Paintings: The Jucker Collection by Hugo E. Kreijger, photography by Mischa E. Jucker (Shambhala Publications) Exceptional quality of the color reproductions and the annotations makes this volume an essential work documenting some fine specimens of Tibetan scroll paintings. Since the appearance of the catalogue on the Newar paintings of the Kathmandu Valley in the Mischa and Angela tucker Collections, many people have asked if and when a volume on their Tibetan scrolls would follow. The collection in question contains over 250 paintings, and as with the Kathmandu Valley paintings, only a few have ever been published before. We have, therefore, selected seventy paintings from the collection for inclusion in this catalogue ‑ all of them fascinating if only for their sheer beauty. In date they span the Tibetan painting tradition from the late 12th until the early 20th century, and, like the overall collection itself, include a large percentage depicting wrathful deities. Like the Newar paintings, almost all the Tibetan scrolls in the tucker Collection were assembled during the 1960s, with a few having been acquired in later years to fill in certain iconographic or stylistic lacunae.Over the last twenty years many publications have appeared which are devoted to the Tibetan arts in general and to its paintings in particular. Nevertheless, we believe that the paintings published here can only contribute to a better understanding of the Tibetan painting tradition, presenting as they do a fresh body of material of frequently striking and unusual iconographic or stylistic expression. The organization of the paintings in this volume has been established primarily from an iconographic perspective, beginning with images of the Historical Buddha and his emanations, followed by those of bodhisattvas, Indian and Tibetan Buddhist masters, protectors of the Buddhist law and tutelary deities. Following these are sections devoted to some rare and small groups of Bardo Thodol paintings, black ground scrolls and mandalas. The tucker Collection is also fortunate in containing some important painted examples from the Bon tradition, which close the volume.
Buddhism in the Western Himalaya: A Study of Tabo Monastery by Laxman S. Thakur (Oxford University Press) is a detailed account of one of the earliest surviving Buddhist temples in western Himalaya. Thakur draws on architectural developments, sculptures, murals, and inscriptions to chart its evolution from AD 99 to AD 1996. Tabo, located on the left bank of the river Spiti, in Himachal Pradesh, India is historically important primarily as a centre of Indo‑Tibetan Buddhism. A single temple founded there in AD 996 by Ye‑ses‑'od subsequently grew into a complex of nine buildings, a magnificent legacy of Mahayana Buddhism in the western Himalaya.
In this multi‑disciplinary study covering a period of a thousand years, Laxman S. Thakur traces the evolution of Buddhism against the backdrop of the economy and culture of the region. He examines the various components of the monastery and delineates the architectural and aesthetic styles of Tabo, including sculpture, painting, epigraphy, and Tibetan inscriptions. The famous murals of Tabo reflect not only the influence of the many Buddhist philosophical and religious doctrines then in currency, but also the larger socio‑cultural, political, and economic changes occurring in this region at the time. The iconography of the murals mirror regional influences as well, particularly of the areas contiguous to Lahaul‑Spiti. At the same time, they also preserve non‑Indian motifs and idioms, including the Achaemenid, Persian, Central Asian, Nepalese, and the Chinese. The names of artists and patrons, whose religious devotion is manifested so creatively in this splendid house of worship, have been translated from Tibetan into English for the first time in this book.
The book is accompanied by beautiful color and black‑and‑white photographs, and supplemented by detailed maps and ground plans. It is essential reading for all those interested in Himalayan archaeology, art and architecture, pre‑Buddhist and Buddhist religious traditions, and Tibet. It is also an ideal introduction for visitors to Tabo and the nearby regions.
The mysterious land of Tibet, forgotten and forbidden for so
long, is suddenly up front on the world's stage. The Dalai Lama, awarded a Nobel peace
prize for his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese rule in Tibet, is one of the world's most
recognized and esteemed religious leaders. American rock groups and media celebrities now
actively work in support of the cause of Tibetan freedom. Two new films "Seven Years
in Tibet' starring Brad Pitt and based on the bestselling book by Heinrich Harrer, and
"Kundun," a film about the life of the Dalai Lama directed by Martin Scorcese,
will be released this year. Two exceptional photoessay volumes are offered this season.
ALCHI is an exceptional scholarly acheivement in Buddhist temple studies, while TIBET
offers a more romantic recovery of the pionerring exploration of Madame David-Neel. Her
travels in turn of century Tibet were legendary and were for many years the only
information the west enjoyed of the remote Himalayan country.
TIBET: Caught in Time by John Clarke, photographs by John Claude White, Sir Charles Bell ($64.95, hardcover, 160 pages Garnet Publishing LTD; ISBN: 1873938969
TIBET is renowned for its majestic beauty, and also for its ongoing struggle for cultural survival. This collection of photographs from the British Library, taken by two British diplomats in the early 20th century, shows traditional Tibetan culture before Chinese rule was imposed. These were the final decades of a society that had changed little since the Middle Ages, but was about to be savagely oppressed. The photos, caught in a window of time, form a treasured record of the true spirit of old Tibet.
These photos are not only of historic interest but reveal a keen appreciation of the anthropological possibilities of photography to reveal the inner life as well as the social and material culture of a people. They reveal a fabulous, complex, fascinating and funny view of life. Not just monks and solemn things, also farmers having picnic lunches with beer, kids playing, markets, festivals, fabulous costumes and headdresses.This is a must see for Tibetan enthusiasts who want a feel for the culture.
Ladakhs Hidden Buddhist Sanctuary: The Sumtsek
Jaroslav Poncar, photographer
$150.00, Cloth and boxed; 288 Pages; Size: 12 by 14-1/2; bibliography, 300 plus color photographs, index
Upon the northern edge of the Indian subcontinent, in the hilly folds
near the Himalayas, east of Kashmir near the Tibetan border south of the Indus river is
Ladakh. Its valleys have long been a great trade and invasion route to the north of India.
There is Alchi, a distinct daedal of Buddhist temples with splendid wall paintings and
clay sculptures that have survived for the past eight hundred years to reveal some of the
best preserved and unaltered images, an iconography of a flourishing Varjayana Buddhism.
This sumptuous limited edition offers a detailed photo survey and archaeological description of one of the most impressive of the temples at Alchi, the Sumtsek (Three-Tiered) Temple. The building itself is a composite blend of Tibetan and Kashmiri elements that demonstrate some central Asian components. The wall paintings are in an elaborate and delicate Kashmiri style. This style is known to still exist only in a few other temples in Ladakh and western Tibet. The minuteness and finesse of the form and style of many of the paintings appears to be a transposition of techniques developed for miniatures in manuscripts onto the larger surfaces of walls.
The adept vision of the monk artists of the Sumtsek combines a lavish display of tantric teachings, with still evolving artistic styles and methods. These are blended with the requirements of a donors personal vision into structural possibilities of the buildings interior design and access to light. All this culminates into a integrated sanctuary, one of the great gems of early tantric iconography. It is a treasure in its own right as valuable as the Sistine Chapel or Saint Marks Basilica.
The wooden panels of the ceilings are painted with a rich variety of textile motifs, some deriving from Greco-Iranian and Sassanian sources, others similar to those found on the pantheon figures of the Buddhist wall paintings, pointing to the international character of the northwest Indian and Kashmiri medieval civilization. The text provides a full introduction to the icons and historical social religious context of the building as best as that can reconstructed through archaeological and scientific methods. In many ways the volume is also a plea for the international preservation of these treasures of Buddhist art due to of the recent rapid deterioration because of changes in climate and rainfall. The paintings reveal early forms of iconographic cult that offer important means of interpreting the evolution of the ritual use of painting. The book ALCHI contains over 300 color plates, maps, and plans. They are beautifully integrated into the text and are important evidence of the development of the cult meditation Buddhas of the Varjayana tradition. This volume is an important documentation of some world class art on the verge of extinction.
Roger Goepper, Director Emeritus of the Museum fr Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne, specializes in Buddhist and Far Eastern Art. Photographer Jaroslav Poncar is head of the Department of Imaging Science at the Fachhochschule, Cologne, and has documented Alchi for over fifteen years.
Buddhist art is a rich source of cultural commentary that is reinvigorating western artists with new approaches to design perspective and the integration of dream into the discipline of vision.
FROM ALCHI Shambhala Publications
TIBET: JOURNEY TO THE FORBIDDEN CITY
Retracing the Steps of Alexandra David-Neel
Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone
Stewart Tabori & Chang
$40.00, 160 pages, 130 full color photographs
Once the land of "immense solitude" at the turn of the century, now Tibet is the focus of international interest. TIBET: JOURNEY TO A FORBIDDEN CITY is a breathtaking record of how Tibet has changed, and how it has remained the same, in the twentieth century. Long before Tibet was on the world's front page, an extraordinary French woman set out to explore the remote areas of the Far East and Central Asia. Born in Paris in 1869, Alexandra David-Neel spent some thirteen years traveling through China and Tibet, walking unknown pilgrim routes, discovering and photographing new cultures and people, and exploring their traditions and religious beliefs. To illustrate the accounts of her experiences, David-Neel took approximately 3000 photographs.
Her images recount the daily routines of the Tibetan people, working to survive, as well as capture the happiness and vivacity of their celebrations and festivities. But as she wrote at the time, due to limitations of black-and-white photography, she regretted tat her pictures "would not convey the true colors of this wonderful land."
Decades later, Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone retrace the footsteps of Alexandra David-Neel, photographing the same tribes and landscapes in their own journey through the forbidden land. With more than 130 stunning illustrations, TIBET: JOURNEY TO A FORBIDDEN CITY is an explosion of color, showing in marvelous detail the panoramic surroundings, the faces and expressions of individual people, and the splendid decoration of costumes, as elaborate today as they were in the 1920s. This photographic pilgrimage is a journey through time and space to land rarely seen by Western eyes.
TIZIANA and GIANNI BAEDIZZONE have traveled widely throughout Africa, South America, and Asia, exploring and photographing some of the world's most remote areasplaces that are often off-limits to foreigners. Their photographs have been exhibited in Paris and other French cities, and have appeared in numerous publications and several previous booksincluding L'lnde des Tribus Oublies, the story of their experience among Indian tribes. They live in Turin, Italy.
THE KATHMANDU VALLEY by Kerry Moran, photographs by Fredrik Arvidsson ($49.95, Hardcover, 240 pages, Shambhala; ISBN: 1570624046)
Kathmandu valley is the cultural center of Nepal. Once (as legend tells), a sparkling encircled by the Himalayan foothills, the valley still retains agricultural landscape. to several ethnic groups and religions, the with holy sites.
In the three of Kathmandu, Bhaktapar and Tatan, a spectacular array of religious art awaits the , carved timbers often depicts houses, sculptures of divinities and tell guardians all surrounding the magnificent vista of the Himalayas.
This beautifully produced volume will wet the appetite of a potential visitor and bring back fond memories for those who have experience one of the most majestic places on earth. Recommended.
Kerry Moran is the author Kailas: On Pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain of Tibet (Thames & Hudson 1989), Nepal Handbook (Moon Publications, 1991), which won Lowell Thomas Travel journalism Award for the best guidebook in 1992, Hong Kong Hong Kong, (Moon Publications, and the Odyssey Guide to Nepal (Local Color, 1998). She lives in Kathmandu.
Fredrik Arvidsson has traveled extensively in South East Asia, the United States and Europe. Since 1990, he has been traveling with his wife through India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka on his 500cc Enfield motorcycle taking photographs. His books include Great Mountains of the Indian Subcontinent, Odyssey Illustrated Guide to Goa, Goa in Depth: An A to Z Guide, and Lahore
BHUTAN: Mountain Fortress of the Gods edited by Christian Schicklgruber and Francoise Pommaret ($75.00, hardcover, 280 pages, Shambhala; ISBN: 157062352X
Foreword His Majesty the King of Bhutan
1 The Country and its Heritage
The Lay of the Land Gerald Navara
Ethnic Mosaic: Peoples of Bhutan Francoise
From Fortress to Farmhouse: A Living
A Village in Central Bhutan
The Thirteen Traditional Crafts
2 Bhutanese Buddhism
Religion and Rituals
Gods and Sacred Mountains
3 History and Nationhood
The Birth of a Nation Francoise Pommaret
The Way to the Throne Francoise Pommaret
4 A Nation on the Move
Tradition and Development Karma Ura
Women in the City
List of Objects Illustrated
BHUTAN (India Guides.) by Francoise Pommanet ($19.95, paperback, 3rd edition, Passport Books; ISBN: 0844299669
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