Tibetology (Tibetan : བོད་རིག་པ།, Wylie : bod-rig-pa) refers to the study of things related to Tibet, including its history, religion, language, culture, politics and the collection of Tibetan articles of historical, cultural and religious significance. The last may mean a collection of Tibetan statues, shrines, Buddhist icons and holy scripts, Thangka embroideries, paintings and tapestries, jewellery, masks and other objects of fine Tibetan art and craftsmanship.
The Tibetan alphabet is an abugida used to write the Tibetic languages such as Tibetan, as well as Dzongkha, Sikkimese, Ladakhi, and sometimes Balti. The printed form of the alphabet is called uchen script while the hand-written cursive form used in everyday writing is called umê script.
The Wylie transliteration system is a method for transliterating Tibetan script using only the letters available on a typical English language typewriter. It bears the name of Turrell V. Wylie, who described the scheme in an article, A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription, published in 1959. It has subsequently become a standard transliteration scheme in Tibetan studies, especially in the United States.
Tibetan history, as it has been recorded, is particularly focused on the history of Buddhism in Tibet. This is partly due to the pivotal role this religion has played in the development of Tibetan and Mongol cultures and partly because almost all native historians of the country were Buddhist monks.
Tsaparang was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Guge in the Garuda Valley, through which the upper Sutlej River flows, in Ngari Prefecture near the border of Ladakh. It is 278 km south-southwest of Senggezangbo Town and 26 km west of the 11th-century monastery at Thöling, and not far west of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. The Tsaparang Dzong was located here. Nearby is the Bon monastery of Gurugem.
Guge was an ancient kingdom in Western Tibet. The kingdom was centered in present-day Zanda County, Ngari Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. At various points in history after the 10th century AD, the kingdom held sway over a vast area including south-eastern Zanskar, Upper Kinnaur district, and Spiti Valley, either by conquest or as tributaries. The ruins of the former capital of the Guge kingdom are located at Tsaparang in the Sutlej valley, not far from Mount Kailash and 1,200 miles (1,900 km) westwards from Lhasa.
Ladakh is a region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture.
The publications of the British diplomat Charles Alfred Bell contributed towards the establishment of tibetology as an academic discipline. As outstanding tibetologists of the 20th century the British Frederick William Thomas, David Snellgrove, Michael Aris, and Richard Keith Sprigg, the Italians Giuseppe Tucci and Luciano Petech, the Frenchmen Jacques Bacot and Rolf Alfred Stein, finally the Germans Dieter Schuh and Klaus Sagaster, may be mentioned.
Sir Charles Alfred Bell, KCIE CMG was the British Political Officer for Bhutan, Sikkim and Tibet. He was known as "British India's ambassador to Tibet" before retiring and becoming a noted tibetologist.
Frederick William Thomas, usually cited as F. W. Thomas, was an English Indologist and Tibetologist.
David Llewellyn Snellgrove was a British Tibetologist noted for his pioneering work on Buddhism in Tibet as well as his many travelogues.
Since a few decades, particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries, the study of Tibet and Tibetology open itself towards other disciplines, resulting in works with interdisciplinary approach. This has become most obvious in the regular conferences of the IATS (International Association of Tibetan Studies), held at intervals of three years in different cities all over the world. As examples of such open-minded Tibet researcher we might mention the American anthropologist Melvyn Goldstein, among others, who has done noted research and publications on lexical questions, about Tibetan nomads and the modern history of Tibet. Others are Robert Barnett, Matthew Kapstein, Elliot Sperling, Alex McKay, Geoffrey Samuel, and many more.
Melvyn C. Goldstein is an American social anthropologist and Tibet scholar. His research focuses on Tibetan society, history and contemporary politics, population studies, polyandry, studies in cultural and development ecology, economic change and cross-cultural gerontology.
Robert Barnett is the former Director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program, Adjunct Professor of Contemporary Tibetan Studies, and Senior Research Scholar in Modern Tibetan history at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University. He retired from Columbia in December 2017. He is also referred to as Robbie Barnett by the media.
Matthew Kapstein is a scholar of Tibetan religions and Buddhism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. One of his study areas has concentrated on Tibetan culture and the influence of China's invasion. He is of Jewish descent.
David Francis Germano is an American Tibetologist and Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia (UVa), the largest Tibetan Studies program in the Americas, where he has taught and researched since 1992. With dual appointments in the School of Nursing and the Department of Religious Studies, Germano currently oversees the work of over twenty graduate students. He is on the board of the International Association of Tibetan Studies and is Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies (JIATS), a leading journal of Tibetology. In 2000, he founded the Tibetan and Himalayan Library, a digital initiative for collaborative building of knowledge on the region, which he continues to lead as Director. Since 2008 he has also been the co-director of the UVa Tibet Center. More recently, Germano acted as the founding director of SHANTI at the UVa. Since 2011, Germano has also played a leading role in organizing the University of Virginia's Contemplative Sciences Center, which he currently directs.
Giuseppe Tucci was an Italian Orientalist, Indologist and scholar of East Asian studies, specialised in Tibetan culture and history of Buddhism. During its zenith, Tucci was a supporter of Italian Fascism, and he used idealized portrayals of Asian traditions to support Italian ideological campaigns. Tucci was fluent in several European languages, Sanskrit, Bengali, Pali, Prakrit, Chinese and Tibetan and he taught at the University of Rome La Sapienza until his death. He is considered one of the founders of the field of Buddhist Studies.
Elliot Sperling was one of the world's leading historians of Tibet and Tibetan-Chinese relations, and a MacArthur Fellow. He spent most of his scholarly career as an associate professor at Indiana University's Department of Central Eurasian Studies, with seven years as the department's chair.
It is an honour to introduce this volume of articles by eminent scholars of Tibetan in memory of my friend of many years, Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa, and to make my own contribution. Tsepon Shakabpa is well known to readers of English for his Tibet: A Political History - the first venture of that kind by a Tibetan - and to those with a knowledge of Tibetan for his extended version of that book, and for his Guide to the Central Temple of Lhasa. Those works show the wide range of sources, especially Tibetan historical records, with which he was familiar; and in the Introduction to his Tibet he tells of his deep study of the documents relating to the Simla Convention of 1914 which were entrusted to him by his uncle, former Kalon Lama. Further, as rtsis-dpon, a post he held from 1943, he was at the heart of every political development and had access to all Tibetan Government archives, of which he retained an acute recollection. (...) He will be remembered as a fine scholar...
Reviews 'No book review can do justice to this overwhelming and almost intimidating sum of detailed scholarship and careful translation and editing. This book, not only for its historical contents and the point of view of its author, but also for its academic “tour de force”, is a great contribution to the history of Tibet and will benefit Tibetans and Westerners alike.' Françoise Pommaret, The Journal of Asian Studies, 70/1 (2011)
How to review what can be considered a historical monument of Tibet? One Hundred Thousand Moons: An Advanced Political History of Tibet written by Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa (Rtsis dpon Dbang phyug bde ldan zhwa sgab pa, 1908-89) and translated and annotated by Derek F. Maher, is a monument in all senses of the term. First by its length: running 1,184 pages in two volumes, it covers the history of Tibet from the origin of the Tibetans until 1959. Second, it is the first full-scale history of Tibet written by a Tibetan who had access to sources unknown to Westerners or available only now. While abridged English version was published in 1967, Shakabpa finished writing this larger Tibetan version, Bod kyi srid don rgyal rabs , in 1976. The more detailed work has acquired almost mythic status, and it is finally available to the wider public with Maher's English translation.
Drogön Chogyal Phagpa, was the fifth leader of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was also the first Imperial Preceptor of Kublai Khan's Yuan dynasty, division of the Mongol Empire, and was concurrently named the director of the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs. Historical tradition remembers him as the first vice-ruler of Tibet under the Mongol Khagan as well as one of the Five Sakya patriarchs. Although this is historically disputed, he played a very important political role.
Sándor Csoma de Kőrös was a Hungarian philologist and Orientalist, author of the first Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar book. He was called Phyi-glin-gi-grwa-pa in Tibetan, meaning "the foreign pupil", and was given the title of Bosatsu or Boddhisatva by the Japanese in 1933. He was born in Kőrös, Grand Principality of Transylvania. His birth date is often given as 4 April, although this is actually his baptism day and the year of his birth is debated by some authors who put it at 1787 or 1788 rather than 1784. The Magyar ethnic group, the Székelys, to which he belonged believed that they were derived from a branch of Attila's Huns who had settled in Transylvania in the fifth century. Hoping to study the claim and to find the place of origin of the Székelys and the Magyars by studying language kinship, he set off to Asia in 1820 and spent his lifetime studying the Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy. Csoma de Kőrös is considered as the founder of Tibetology. He was said to have been able to read in seventeen languages. He died in Darjeeling while attempting to make a trip to Lhasa in 1842 and a memorial was erected in his honour by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
Nyêmo is a county in the Lhasa west of the main center of Chengguan, Tibet. It lies on the north bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, the northern part of the Brahmaputra. The county has an area of 3,276 square kilometres (1,265 sq mi), and as of 2011 had a population of 30,844 people, mostly engaged in agriculture or herding.
Lha-bzang Khan was the ruler of the Khoshut tribe of the Oirats. He was the son of Tenzin Dalai Khan (1668–1701) and grandson of Güshi Khan, being the last khan of the Khoshut Khanate and Oirat King of Tibet. He acquired effective power as ruler of Tibet by eliminating the regent (desi) Sangye Gyatso and the Sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, but his rule was cut short by an invasion by another group of Oirats, the Dzungar people. At length, this led to the direct involvement of the Chinese Qing Dynasty in the Tibetan politics.
Reting Rinpoche was a title held by abbots of Reting Monastery, a Buddhist monastery in central Tibet.
Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa was a Tibetan nobleman, scholar and former Finance Minister of the government of Tibet.
The Kashag was the governing council of Tibet during the rule of the Qing dynasty and post-Qing period until the 1950s. It was created in 1721, and set by Qianlong Emperor in 1751 for the Ganden Phodrang. In that year the Tibetan government was reorganized after the riots in Lhasa of the previous year. The civil administration was represented by Council (Kashag) after the 7th Dalai Lama abolished the post of Desi, in whom too much power had been placed.
Sonam Drakpa was a regent of Central Tibet who ruled in 1381–1385. He belonged to the Phagmodrupa Dynasty, the leading regime in Tibet from 1354 to 1435.
Kunga Lekpa was a King of central Tibet who ruled from 1448 to 1481. He belonged to the Phagmodrupa Dynasty, which was the leading political regime in central Tibet from 1354 to 1435, and retained a certain political status until the early 17th century. His time saw the further fragmentation of Tibetan politics.
Ngawang Tashi Drakpa was a king of Tibet who ruled in 1499–1554 and 1556/57–1564. He belonged to the Phagmodrupa Dynasty which was the dominating regime in Tibet from 1354 to 1435 and maintained a degree of authority until the early 17th century. His rule is sometimes considered to be the last of importance in the history of the dynasty.
Karma Tseten, also known as Zhingshak Tseten Dorje was a king of Upper Tsang in West Central Tibet. He was the founder of the Tsangpa Dynasty, that had an important role in the history of Tibet from 1565 to 1642, ruling in the period 1565-1599.
Karma Phuntsok Namgyal was a king of Tibet who ruled from 1618 to 1620. He belonged to the Tsangpa Dynasty that held power in Tsang since 1565 and was the foremost political and military power in Tibet until 1642.
Karma Tenkyong, in full Karma Tenkyong Wangpo, was a king of Tibet who ruled from 1620 to 1642. He belonged to the Tsangpa Dynasty which had been prominent in Tsang since 1565. His reign was marked by the increasingly bitter struggle against the Gelugpa sect and its leader the Dalai Lama. The final outcome was the crushing of the Tsangpa regime and the establishment of the Dharma-based Tibetan state that endured until 1950.
Ernő Hetényi was a Hungarian tibetologist and the leader of the Arya Maitreya Mandala for Eastern Europe.
Shatra, was a Tibetan politician.
Dayan Khan was the second khan of the Khoshut Khanate and protector-king of Tibet, ruling from 1655 to 1668. He sat on the throne during the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, but did not have a major independent role in Tibetan politics.
Tenzin Dalai Khan was the third khan of the Khoshut Khanate and protector-king of Tibet. He ruled from 1668 to 1696, in the time of the Fifth and Sixth Dalai Lamas.
Tenzin Wangchuk Khan was the fourth khan of the Khoshut Khanate and protector-king of Tibet. He reigned from 1696 to 1697, or from 1701 to 1703, during the age of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso.
The Historical Status of China's Tibet is a book published in 1997 in English by China Intercontinental Press, the propaganda press for the government of the People's Republic of China.The book presents the Chinese government's official position on the history of Tibet and claims that Tibet has been under the sovereignty of China since the Yuan dynasty.