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.

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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 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.


  • Buddhas, masters, and protectors: The 'hierophantic choreography' of Tibetan illustrated prints
  • 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.