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Tibetan Studies at SOAS

Tibetan Studies Events

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  • The History of Bhutan (UK book launch)
  • Dr Karma Phuntsho (University of Virginia/SOAS)
  • In 2008, Bhutan emerged as the world’s youngest democracy and in the same year crowned the world’s youngest monarch. Today, it enchants the world with its policy of Gross National Happiness and has become a popular destination for travel. Nonetheless, Bhutan remains one of the most poorly studied places on earth.

  • Rewriting the ancient history of Tibet
  • Yongdrol Tsongkha (Lanzhou)
  • Since 1982 thousands of tombs dating to the 7th–9th centuries have been discovered in the region of Dulan in western Kokonor and other areas. A great number of grave goods, such as gold, silver and silk artifacts, Tibetan inscriptions on stone and wood, and painted coffin are now circulating in public museums and private collections. Based on extensive fieldwork, this presentation surveys the tombs, gave goods, and recent research.


  • Beyul: Hidden Valleys
  • Dr Fabian Sanders (Venice)
  • Scholars usually regard the sku-bla as a mountain deity, with differing views on whether this cult is a foreign import or central to Imperial Tibetan religion. A re-examination of the relevant passages shows that the sku-bla is a ceremony central to the ideology of sacral kingship in the Old Tibetan Empire. It created a bond of vassalage between the celebrant and the Tibetan emperor, and was performed by vassals of the emperor rather than the royal court itself.

  • Buddhas, masters, and protectors
  • Marta Sernesi (LMU, Munich)
  • This lecture treats woodcut images in Tibetan xylographs from the 15th to the 17th centuries. Focusing on specific examples—such as the 1539 first edition of the bKa' gdams glegs bam—it discusses the conventions governing the choice and display of the figures on the page, in order to illustrate how images may recount stories of textual transmission and relate information about the circumstances of production of the books.