SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Circle of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Events

The aim of the Circle is to encourage the scholarly exploration of Tibetan culture by providing a forum for research, exhibitions and affiliated events pertaining to the civilisations of Tibet and the Himalayas held in the greater London area.

The intellectual focus consists of a series of seminars and lectures hosted by SOAS. The content of these presentations covers a wide range of Tibetological research including art, archaeology, architecture, history, language, literature, music,
philosophy and religion.

Its activities will be of particular interest to scholars, art collectors, academic institutions and other interest groups concerned with the study and preservation of the Tibetan cultural heritage. 

The administrative hub of the Circle consists of a custom built member database. This is designed to facilitate communication between scholars, galleries and aficionados of Tibetan and Himalayan culture and religion.

« Previous year | Next year »



  • Archaeology of a text: creation and redaction of Tibetan history
  • Dr Michael Willis (British Museum)
  • bSam yas is Tibet's earliest Buddhist establishment. Apart from a short foundation inscription, we depend on later histories the institution's development. The oldest of the later histories is known as the "Testimony of BA" and dates to about 1000 CE. This lecture looks at the 'Testament of Ba', the earliest such history, and explores how Tibetans constructed their history and identity.


  • Reincarnation Before Its Institutionalization in Tibet
  • Dr Daniel Hirshberg (UC Santa Barbara)
  • The narratives of Nyang-rel Nyima Özer's  (1124-1192) preincarnations were written posthumously by Guru Chöwang (1212-1270), who claimed to be Nyang-rel's reincarnation. This claim challenged the lineal and spiritual authority of Nyang-rel’s descendants and may signify one of the earliest documented conflicts between patrilineal and reincarnate inheritance claims in Tibet.


  • The life of the Buddha in wall inscriptions of Western Tibet
  • Dr Kurt Tropper (Universität Wien)
  • The life of Buddha Shakyamuni is illustrated in wall paintings across the Tibetan cultural realm. Some such representations include inscriptions. This lecture presents examples documented in Western Tibet during and discusses their significance.


  • Kharoṣṭhī and Tibetan: Two Scribal Traditions and a Hidden Connection
  • Dr Stefan Baums (LMU Munich‎)
  • This lecture compares the emergence of the Kharoṣṭhī (fourth century BCE) and Tibetan (seventh century CE) scribal traditions. Both scripts were adapted to previously unwritten languages, underwent paleographic and orthographic standardization, and developed from instruments of empire and administration into carriers of Buddhist literary traditions. The lecture suggests an unnoticed historical connection between the two scripts in the cultural meeting grounds of Central Asia.


  • 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.