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Tibetan Studies at SOAS

Tibetan Studies Events

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  • The study of the Ganden phodrang aristocracy (1895-1959): new results through prosopography
  • Dr Alice Travers (CNRS)
  • This presentation discusses a socio-historical investigation into the aristocracy of the central government of Tibet (1895-1959). Oral and written sources built into a computerized database provides a basis to analyze noble lineage and government service. The database gives new insights into the general development of careers and marriage patterns.


  • The Endurance of the Past in Modern Tibetan Literature
  • Lama Jabb
  • Existing research on modern Tibetan writing takes the 1980s as starting point. However, this interpretation ignores the styles, themes and concepts derived from Tibet’s rich and diverse oral traditions. This talk highlights this impact of the past on the present showing the influence of mgur, kāvya and oral poetry in the works of contemporary Tibetan poets.




  • Nyepas: The three humors in Tibetan Medicine
  • Dr Rigzin Sangmo
  • According to traditional Tibetan medicine, health is determined by five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, space) and three humors (rlung 'wind', mkhris-pa 'bile' and bad-kan 'phlegm'). This talk will introduce the three humors and explain their composition and function in the regulation of health.


  • The sku-bla and its cult
  • Nathan W. Hill
  • 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.


  • The Shugden Controversy and the 14th Dalai Lama
  • Various
  • This panel discussion will address the controversy surrounding the propitiation of Dorje Shugden in the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. It will include presentations by traditional exponents of both sides of the controversy and by academic authorities. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.


  • 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.


  • 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.