Research for Zhang Zhung Civilisation
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Research for Zhang Zhung Civilisation

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Item Code: UAG869
Author: Tsering Thar
Publisher: Vajra Books, Nepal
Language: English
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 9789937733250
Pages: 392
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 530 gm
About the Author
Tsering Thar is a specialist in the history of Bon religion and Zhang zhung civilization. Presently he is professor of history of Tibetan religions at the School for Chinese Minority Languages and Literature of Minzu University of China, where he was already professor and director at the School for Tibetan Studies (2007-2018). Prior to his appointment, he was a research fellow on Bon religion at the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing (1987-2006). He is a member of the Expert Committee of the Center for Conservation of Ancient Books under the Ministry of Culture in China, a board member of International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) since 2010, and the Vice-president of International Association for Bon Research (IABR-AIRB) since 2010. He is the author of numerous articles and several books in Tibetan, Chinese, and English.

His recent works include Zhang zhung she’s rig skor gyi dpyad brjod bya ru'i gzi byin (2018), Bon bstan rig gnas skor gyi dpyad brjod khyung ru'i 'od snang (2018), and NANGSHIG A Tibetan Bonpo Monastery and its Family in Amdo (2016). He also edited the collections Gang ti se bon gzhung rig mdzod (25 volumes, 2010) and Gna' rabs bon gyi dpe dkon bris ma (10 volumes with Ngawang Gyamtso, 2018).

It is a great privilege to have been asked by my friend and esteemed colleague, the author of the present collection of articles, to write this foreword. Tsering Thar is an internationally known Tibetologist who has contributed to this field of research not only through his many publications in Tibetan and Chinese as well as in European languages, but also for the outstanding students he has trained at the Minzu University of China, where he was the director of the dynamic School for Tibetan Studies Department from 2007 to 2018. After his retirement from that position he moved to the School of Chinese Ethnic Minority Language and Literature in the same university, where he continues to teach. In the ,course of his distinguished career he has taken part in several collaborative research projects with colleagues from across the globe, and remains a highly-valued member of the Advisory Board of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. His book-length publications include an English-language monograph of the world's largest Bon monastery, Nangshig, in Sichuan.' That volume was one of the outcomes of an extended study that included a survey of monasteries of the Bon religion under the aegis of the National Museupi of Ethnography, Osaka, Japan.

The present collection of sixteen articles has the merit of gathering between the covers of a single book several articles that have previously been published ,in English, but are not particularly easy to obtain, while also presenting, for the first time, English translations of works that I Nangshig: A Tibetan Bonpo Monastery and its Family in Amdo. , Kathmandu: Vajra Books, 2016.

until now have been available only in Tibetan or Chinese. As diverse as their respective topics may be, the articles all fall under a unifying umbrella of what we may broadly describe as the early civilization and indigenous culture of Tibet. Breaking this overarching theme down further, the articles may all be grouped under four overlapping categories: the religious and cultural history of early Tibet; the Bon religion; investigations of the Kailash area and its environs; and studies of Bon sacred sites and institutions in eastern Tibet, notably Kham and Amdo. The highly local character of many aspects of Tibetan civilization is such that it is impossible to assume that observations of religious practices made in one place are valid in another, even when both ostensibly belong to the same religion or religious school. The great value of the ethnographic accounts that make up the last of the four categories is therefore self-evident: while we much resign ourselves to the fact that the vast mosaic of Tibetan culture will always be partial and fragmented, these are valuable studies that help to fill in some of the blanks. Such fieldwork-based observations are all the more important because the author's familiarity with the relevant literary sources enables him to place them in a historical framework. As for the three other themes addressed in this collection, while the author does present a number of little-known and under-researched works mainly (though by no means only) from the Bon scriptural corpus, the emphasis here is not so much on the publication of new data as on the interpretation of source material that is often too fragmentary or ambiguous to be conclusive.

This book contains fifteen selected articles by Tsering Thar, the author, on Tibetan studies touching on geography, history, religion, philology and linguistics. They are selected from his writings published during the author's long career at the Minzu University, Beijing where he has played a crucial role in developing modem Tibetan studies as a professor.

With -his encouragement and availability a number of students both Tibetan and Chinese were able to achieve higher degrees and were academically very successful.

The author's breadth of knowledge of history and religion of Tibet is displayed in these writings. They further show the depth of his experience in the fieldwork as well as his familiarity and foresight with the recent discovery of so many fairly old manuscripts that contain a variety of unknown rituals of the Bon tradition. They were kept mostly in private houses and temples in the villages. It was mainly under his supervision that these manuscripts were first photographed and then classified in accordance with the subject matter with notes and comments. One good example of this work is the ten volumes containing eighty-six texts entitled Ancient and Rare Tibetan Manuscripts of the Bon Tradition (gna' rabs bon gyi dpe dkon bris ma, misho sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2016).

In recent years the author also took the initiative to organize a series of international conferences to study what is termed as "Zhang zhung Culture" (Zhangzhung rig gans) in Lhasa and Beijing that has effectively opened up a new growing trend of studies in Tibetology. The author himself has devoted several articles on this theme. It must be mentioned here the one written in Tibetan, but extremely important. It is entitled Dengs rabs rgyal khabs phyi nang gi zhang zhung rig gnas kyi zhib 'jug (Mu khri btsan po, gYung drung bon dang 'brei ba 'i dpyad gleng /deb, 12, 2018, pp.51-76). This article contains a very candid discussion and evaluation of the research carried out on Zhang zhung by scholars.

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