Thursday, April 28, 2011

Books on Tibet

This is a selection of books on Tibet:

Tibet Unconquered: An Epic Struggle For Freedom by Diane Wolff. In Tibet Unconquered, East Asia expert Diane Wolff explores the status of Tibet over 800 years of history. From the Mongol invasion to the emergence of the Dalai Lama, Wolff investigates the history of political and economic relations between China and Tibet. Looking to the long rule of Chinggis Khan as a model, she argues that by thinking in regional terms, both countries could usher in a new era of prosperity while maintaining their historical and cultural identities. Wolff creates a forward-thinking blueprint for resolving the China-Tibet problem, grounded in the history of the region and the reality of today's political environment, that will guide both countries to peace.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead [Illustrated Edition] by Glenn H. Mullen and Thomas Kelly (Photos). The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or Bardo Todol, is one of the great classics of Tibetan literature. The Bardo Todol is as relevant a guidebook to daily living as it is to a successful death and transmigration. This volume is a fresh look at this timeless classic. It brings together a range of stunning images with a contextual analysis and abridged translation.

Tibet in Exile by Jane Perkins and Raghu Rai (Photos). Revised and extended edition of the 1990 book with fine photography which overviews the history of Tibet and traces the course of the traumatic events, violence and betrayals which led to the 1959 escape to India of the Dalai Lama and followers. Summary accounts are given of the Tibetans' reception in India where there are now 57 agricultural settlements. The four schools of Tibetan Buddhism are now represented by 600 centres throughout the world. Photographs present the situation in Tibet including the violent repressions of 1987 and 2008, and also the internationally welcomed educational role of the Dalai Lama.

Hidden Treasures of the Himalayas: Tibetan Manuscripts, Paintings and Sculptures of Dolpo by Amy Heller. In 1999, a hidden library was found in the Nesar Temple at a remote village of Bicher, in Dolpo, Nepal. It contains more than six hundred volumes of Tibetan manuscripts, ranging in date from the late 11th to the early 16th century. This library in many ways constitutes a cultural history of Dolpo in this period thanks to some sixty volumes with historical prefaces explaining the commission of the manuscripts for the Nesar Temple, while more than one hundred other volumes have illuminations of the scenes of the life of the Buddha and episodes from the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) texts. These illuminations inform us about the donors, their costumes, their Buddhist rituals while the dedications tell us about the systems of patronage and donation. Some illuminations reflect the ancient manuscripts of Tabo and Tholing, others reflect the sophisticated Newar aesthetic of Kathmandu and all these diverse tendencies reached Dolpo where they were appreciated. By studying these texts within and examining the styles of the manuscript illuminations, Amy Heller was able to shed light on the history of this remote Tibetan enclave, the spread of Buddhism in the Himalayas and its artistic legacy. The manuscripts, sculptures and mural paintings discovered in Dolpo are the concrete expression of the complex economic, political, artistic and religious interactions between the people of Dolpo and their neighbours in India, Nepal, and Tibet.

Women In Tibet edited by Janet Gyatso and Hanna Havnevik. Filling a gap in the literature, this volume explores the struggles and accomplishments of women from both past and present-day Tibet. Here are queens from the imperial period, yoginis and religious teachers of medieval times, Buddhist nuns, oracles, political workers, medical doctors, and performing artists. Most of the essays focus on the lives of individual women, whether from textual sources or from anthropological data, and show that Tibetan women have apparently enjoyed more freedom than women in many other Asian countries. The book is innovative in resisting both romanticisation and hypercriticism of women's status in Tibetan society, attending rather to historical description, and to the question of what is distinctive about women's situations in Tibet, and what is common to both men and women in Tibetan society.

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