Monday, September 19, 2016

Tibetan Literature


Journal Éveillé is an Informal Exploration of the Natural Mind in the Arts of Language and Poetics

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"Despite a literary tradition going back thirteen centuries, Tibet generally has had a culture in which many important types of knowledge—not just of personal experience, but of history, philosophy and science, too—were transmitted orally..... "Verse"—metrically regulated composition—is an excellent mnemonic device, and so it should not surprise us that a tremendous amount of Tibetan literature is in verse. From among the vast number of versified works found in their language, Tibetans have separated out certain pieces because of their greater concentration of rhythm, image and meaning, their heightened "imagery" (gzugs), "vitality" (srog) and "ornamentation" (rgyan). These works are designated in Tibetan by at least three separate terms: glu (songs), mgur (poetical songs) and snyan ngag (ornate poetry).

Poetry: "a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm" (Webster's: 887a) that in the West we call "poetry," .....

"Glu, mgur and snyan ngag are interrelated in subtle and important ways, but they are distinguishable. Indeed, one may see the movement from glu to mgur to snyan ngag as reflecting both the evolution of "poetry" in Tibet from ancient to more recent times and the spectrum of poetic styles, from that of popular, oral, indigenously rooted works, to that of monastic, literary, Indian-inspired compositions."

The Gesar epic (sgrung).

"Glu, mgur and snyan ngag (along with the Gesar epic corpus) together roughly comprise the Tibetan poetic canon. Glu, which remains in Tibetan as a general term for "song," is the earliest, most indigenous, most secular, and most orally and musically oriented of the genres. mGur, which originally was either a synonym or a subdivision of glu, came eventually to denote a more Buddhistic type of "song," and might be either Tibetan or Indian in its inspiration, oral or written in its style. sNyan ngag, "speech [agreeable] to the ear," is an ornate, written, Indian-inspired type of Buddhist (and occasionally secular) poetry that did not appear until the thirteenth century, well after the other two genres."

Excerpts are from: Tibetan Literature...Studies in Genre, pp. Roger R. Jackson!book=/studies-in-genres/b22/


"The Tibetan script was developed from an Indic script in the 7th century during the Tibetan Imperial period......Chinese authorities impose Lhasa Tibetan on Amdo Tibetan speakers, because they are both considered part of the same language for political reasons.....Throughout most of Tibetan history, its literary works have been strongly influenced by Buddhist thought: they are mostly religious, historical, and biographical texts, or a mixture of these genres. There are also collections of folktales (for example, those involving the trickster figure Akhu Tönpa), and works dealing with the ancient Bön religion, which preceded Tibetan Buddhism..... The Gesar epic in particular is the key subject of study by the Chinese state, and was revived with the end of the clergy's monopoly on political power, since the Gelugpa monasteries forbade the epic literary genre......The most popular Tibetophone literary magazine in Qinghai, "Light Rain" (Drang Char), was founded in 1981, popularizing the short story genre in Tibet....... The influence of Chinese poetry, and of Western poetry in Chinese translation, began to make itself felt after the Four Modernizations. Despite these influences, critics and editors gave priority to stories and poems with traditional settings. Most new work takes the form of poetry."....


The Language Divide: Identity and Literary Choices in Modern Tibet P Schiaffini - ‎2004

The Exotic Other and Negotiation of Tibetan Self: Representation of Tibet in ... By Kamila Hladíková


Northern New Mexico

September 2016


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