Digital Himalaya Journals

Short Reviews Tibet Society 1983

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 Book Reviews
Charles Genoud and Takao Inoue, Buddhist Wall-Paintings of Ladakh.
(French edition, Geneva, Edition Olizane, 1981. English edition, translated by
Tom Tillemans, Geneva, Edition Olizane, 1982) 248 pp. 345 color and 35 black
and white illustrations.
Pratapaditya Pal and Lionel Fournier, A Buddhist Paradise: The Murals of
Alchi* Western Himalayas. (Hong Kong, Visual Dharma Publications Ltd.,
1982) 288 pp. 160 color illustrations.
Pratapaditya Pal. Art of Tibet. A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County
Museum of Art Collection. (Los Angeles, co-published by the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art and University of California Press, 1983) 288 pp. 48
color plates, 143 black and white illustrations. With an appendix on
inscriptions by H. E. Richardson.
Concomitant with the arrival of tourists along portions of the Silk Route, in
the Himalayas, in Ladakh and in Tibet, a plethora of books has recently
appeared on the subject of Buddhist art in these regions. The new generation of
writers can build upon the steady foundations established in Buddhist
iconography by Tucci, Bhattacharyya, Gordon, de Mallmann et al., combined
with the now available treatises of Taranatha, the Fourth Panchen Lama, the
Sgrub thabs kun btus or the Rin chen gter mdzod and others in the
considerable array of Tibetan historical and literary sources which have
become accessible in the last fifteen years. If the field has long been hampered
by what E. Gene Smith termed, in 1970, "the pontifications of eminent
museologists and art historians regarding the characteristics and dates of the
various styles and schools (which) represent nothing but uninformed guesses,"1
hopefully the situation is starting to change.
For this reader, Charles Genoud's The Buddhist Wall Paintings of Ladakh
is indicative of considerable progress in the domain. Having studied thang-ka
painting with a Tibetan artist (whose line-drawings illustrate the text), and
having consulted eminent lamas, Genoud is certainly in a unique position to
provide a thorough introduction to the religious background and the
iconography found in Ladakhi wall paintings in particular, and in Vajrayana
art in general. In the brief introductory essays (33 pp. set in large type) Genoud
discusses the pantheon, Ladakh, styles of Buddhist art, and the symbolism of
the iconography. For the latter he has translated a particular sadhana for
Vajrabhairava which is explained in great detail. The essays are clear enough
for a general reader and accurate to the point of providing much information
useful to a specialist as well. Thanks toTakao Inoue's careful photography of
several wall paintings from each monastery selected, this work conveys the
diversity of both painting styles and religious cycles practised in Ladakh from
the mid-eleventh century to the present. It is recommended without reservation
for the general public.
For the specialist, a few minor points must be raised. There is neither index
nor detailed table of contents, although allowance has been made for copious
notes, appendices, glossary and bibliography. Prior to each section of
identified photos appear a few unidentified photos, ostensibly from the same
monastery, but never mentioned in the text or the explanation of plates (pp.
49-87), which otherwise do provide very detailed iconographical information.
Finally, in the bibliography, the words consulted in Tibetan receive very
cursory bibliographic data—no author, pagination, or date of publication is
given to two publications from India. More precise references would have been
appreciated. But the plates are precious for anyone interested in Ladakh or
Buddhist art, and Genoud's careful explanation of Vajrayana philosophy and
meditation according to the Dge-lugs-pa tradition (pp. 87-110) is a very
reliable summary.
Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, is already well-known for his numerous
books and articles on iconography and stylistic evolution in India (particularly Kashmir) and Nepal, as well as for the magnificent exhibits he has
organized.2 In these two recent publications, Pal has undertaken the difficult
task of introducing the complexities of the monastery of Alchi and that of
documenting the treasures of Tibet in the L. A. County collection, certainly
one of the richest public collections in the world. In the latter effort, he has had
the valuable assistance of H. E. Richardson, who read and translated all
pertinent inscriptions in Tibetan.
A Buddhist Paradise: The Murals of Alchi is visibly intended to be a
luxurious book. The glace black paper used as a background to the highly
colored photographs (many of which occupy a full 8H"xl 1" page) is very stark
indeed. This reader has understood that all of Alchi is to be imagined as if one
were examining one by one the contents of a mgon-khang with a very bright
hand-torch. The photographs are beautiful—but, alas, occasionally blurred.
The colors here are quite different from all previous publications where
portions of Alchi are illustrated.3 Repainting is both common and on-going in
Ladakh, but not at Alchi as well.4 Given these circumstances, it would have
been helpful for Lionel Fournier, the photographer, to provide the technical
photographic data which would allow the reader, far from the site, to better
assess what is seen. Fournier's close-up photos are all the more spectacular
when one is aware of the difficulties inherent by virtue of the lay-out of the
temples and the lighting conditions.
Pal's essays are directed towards a public already familiar with Vajrayana
art. The entire text is 56 pages including notes, bibliography, and index, set in
large type, covering artistic milieu, religious background, and styles and
aesthetic. Concentrating on defining several distinct painting styles found in
Alchi's different temples, Pal links them with Indian, Central Asian, and
Iranian (Sassanid) prototypes and distinguishes three basic styles: I. Dukhang
and Sumtsek, II. Lhakhang Soma, III. Lotsawa Lhakhang (the transcription is
Pal's). He seeks to establish in addition a chronological framework for each
style, determined largely on the basis of stylistic parallels, in combination with
historical data and liturgical cycles correlated with a particular monastic
Pal generally follows the history of Alchi according to Snellgrove and
Skorupski, concurring with their preliminary iconographical analyses. In this
respect, Pal's description of plates is often succinct, but he has compensated by
pinpointing aesthetic features relevant to the plates in his essays. More
genuinely problematic, however, is Pal's methodology of historic analysis,
starting from his premise that "We are so used to interpreting art with history
that we seldom consider the artistic evidence to corroborate a [sic] historical
hypothesis" (p. 17). While this methodology may in some cases be justified, it
leads Pal to the analysis of the Lha-khang So-ma as a 'Bri-gung-pa sanctuary.
It is generally admitted that Alchi preserves several phases of Bka'-gdams-pa
art, which exhibit two widely divergent stylistic traditions, that of Kashmir
imported via Rin chen bzang po and, after the arrival of Atisha in 1042, that of
Eastern Bihar imported via Atisha. In the Gsum-brtsegs and 'Dus-khang
temples, the style of representation is Kashmiri, while in the Lha-khang soma, the style is not Kashmiri. Pal finds stylistic affinities for this temple in the
group of thang-ka recovered from Kharkhoto (Hsi-hsia), dated prior to its
destruction in 1226-27 by Chinggis Khan.5 Karmay, in the meticulously
documented Early Sino-Tibetan Art, had tentatively suggested the possibility
of a 'Bri-gung-pa affiliation for one of the Kharakhoto pieces. On the basis
of a monk portrayed wearing a hat which Karmay describes as identical to
that of the Zhva-nag Karma-pa lineage, she stated that although it is
not known what kind of a hat the 'Bri-gung-pa wore, their presence in Hsi-
hsia prior to 1226 is attested by the Mkhas-pa'i dga'-ston.6 Karmay was no
doubt unaware that the same source attests that Dus-gsum mkhyen-pa, the
first Zhva-nag Karma-pa (1110-1193), had founded temples in Hsi-hsia, and
thus the monk portrayed could possibly be a Karma-pa monk.7 However,
Pal takes Karmay's 'Bri-gung-pa hypothesis for one thang-ka and seems to
build it into absolute certainty for the entire group of Kharakhoto paintings,
using the stylistic parallel to establish a sectarian and chronological
affiliation for the Lha-khang So-ba. To further this argument, he notes the
absence of portraits of Rin chen bzang po and Atisha in the temple, and the
presence of a portrait of Padmasambhava.8 Following Snellgrove (as does
Genoud), Pal identifies the portrait of the young, bearded monk next to
Padmasambhava as a portrait of Santiraksita. In the absence of an inscription,
it seems highly improbable to identify the subject as Santiraksita, usually
depicted as an aged monk without beard.9 Yet, were this portrait to be
Santiraksita, it is not entirely incompatible with a Bka'-gdams-pa affiliation.
The last element contributing to Pal's hypothesis is derived from Petech's
analysis of the La-dvags rgyal rabs, which, it would seem, Pal has misunder
stood. Petech states that Lha-chen-dngos-grub, besides restoring (italics mine)
the temples built by his ancestors, also acted as patron to 'Bri-'gung-chos-rje
(1143-1217).10 Pal states, p. 23, "Thus the probability that King Ngotrup built
(italics mine) the Lhakhang Soma around 1215 to commemorate his association with the Drigung-pas becomes more than conjecture, especially when
we are told that Ngotrup was responsible for restoring the temples built by his
ancestors." We do not know which temples Lha-chen-dngos-grub restored,
nor do we know if he built any. Elsewhere, Petech has stated, "After this
episode (Lha-chen-dngos-grub's patronage in 1215 of the 'Bri-gung-pa
expedition in Kailasa) no more mention is made of further exchanges (between
the Ladahki rulers and the 'Bri-gung-pa) and we may infer that there was none
for more than three centuries."11 This reader finds it premature to consider, as
does Pal, that the Lha-khang So-ma is an isolated 'Bri-gung-pa sanctuary in
the midst of the Bka'-gdams-pa monastery at Alchi. Only further studies,
placing the Alchi murals in the wider context of the other early monuments of
Western Tibet, Ladakh, and the Himalayas, will determine the chronological
sequence of the temples at Alchi.
The tenor of Art of Tibet is very different. It is designed as a descriptive
catalogue of the collection to introduce the general public to the Tibetan
painting and sculptural traditions and artifacts. The organization of the book
is exemplary—several brief chapters describe Tibetan geography, society,
religion and religious history, painting and sculptural techniques. These serve
to prepare the reader for the beautiful photographs covering close to fifty pages
of color. At last we get to see almost all the b/w plates of Tibetan Painted
Scrolls in full color! Next appear discussion of styles of representation and the
description of the plates, each description illustrated by a smaller format black
and white photo. The appendix is largely the result of H. E. Richardson's
readings of selected inscriptions—these provide an invaluable complement to
the photos. The phonetic rendering of Tibetan spelling used in the text is
explained in a table which gives the correct Tibetan transcriptions, followed
by copious glossaries, bibliographies and index. All this for only $22.50!!!
The introductory essays are on the whole clearly written and accurate. As
minor points, we must question Pal's use of the term "Dard" (here as in The
Murals of Alchi) without qualification, as this term is a misnomer for several
distinct ethnic groups in Ladakh, and the description of pre-Buddhist religion
in Tibet as "animistic and shamanistic" is simplistic and outdated.12 The brief
definitions of painting styles are easy to follow and to relate to the works of art
illustrated. Pal has culled available literature in Western languages to
document how the Tibetans themselves assessed their art—E. Gene Smith's
vivid translation of a casting episode described in the Autobiography of the
First Panchen Lama is quoted here, and reveals much about the techniques
of casting in early 17th-century Tibet, while at the same time conveying the
excitement which surrounded a major art commission.
With the individual plate descriptions, wherever possible, Pal has integrated
much of the content of the inscriptions. When inscriptions are lacking,
however, occasionally strange conjectures occur. For example, M7 is a wooden
manuscript cover, the reverse of which has been painted. According to the
description, the attribution of this piece to "Zanskar(?), 16th century . . . Sakya
pa sect" is made because Francke noted yellow robes in Zanskar, and the monks
depicted here wear purple inner robes and yellow outer robes. Noting that the
monks have no headdresses, Pal assigns them to the Sa-skya-pa order whose
members are indeed often depicted without hats. But were there any Sa-skya-pa
monasteries in Zangs-skar in the 16th century? In the absence of a reference
other than Francke's discussion of robe color, this attribution seems
problematic—as does the attribution of regional provenance and date to rdo-
rje and other ritual objects (pp. 240-56). Nonetheless, it is admirable that Pal
does not hesitate to alter his own prior assessments of region, date and
iconography in the light of subsequent research. Much prior literature on each
piece is noted at the beginning of the individual description, which is a very
helpful practice, indeed, but there are notable omissions in the lists. Conspicuously absent is any reference whatsoever to the thesis of J. Huntington, "The
Styles and Stylistic Sources of Tibetan Paintings,"13 which studied many of
the L. A. County Museum thang-ka.
Two errors must be mentioned here. Although paintings on linen or cotton
cloth are more common, it is preposterous to state (p. 114) that "Tibetans
rarely, if ever, painted on silk" and (p. 187) "Turquoise is not local (to
Notwithstanding the circumspect attitude which this reader finds warren ted
in regard to Pal's historical analyses in The Murals of Alchi, and the very
minor reservations observed tor Art of Tibet, Pal's erudition and finely honed
aesthetic observations, Richardson's rigorous readings, and the major importance of the material illustrated make these books indispensable acquisitions
for those interested in Tibetan art history and valuable references for an
academic library.
1. E. Gene Smith, Introduction to Kongtrul's Encyclopedia of Indo-Tibetan
Culture, Delhi, 1970. p. 52.
2. Cf. The Arts of India and Nepal: The Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck
Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1966 (much of the Heeramaneck
collection was acquired by the L. A. County Museum, including many pieces
collected and published by G. Tucci in Tibetan Painted Scrolls, Rome, 1949).
"The Art of Tibet," with an essay by E. Olson, Asia House, New York, 1969.
"Indo-Asian Art from the John Gilmore Ford Collection" Baltimore, 1971.
The Arts of Nepal, Brill, Leiden, Vol. 1., 1974, Vol. II., 1978. The Bronzes of
Kashmir, Akademische Druk, Graz, 1975.
3. In addition to the plates illustrated in Buddhist Wall-Paintings of
Ladakh, discussed above, cf. R. Goepper, A Ichi Buddha, Gottinen, Mandalas,
Koln, 1982. R. Khosla, Buddhist Monasteries of the Western Himalayas,
Kathmandu, 1979). T. Kobayashi, "The Mandala of Tibet" (in Japanese)
Mizue 1980: 3-79. M. Singh, Himalayan Art, Unesco Books, 1968. D. L.
Snellgrove and T. Skorupski, The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh, Warminster,
Vol.1.1977, vol.11.1980.
4. See Henss, M. Society for the Preservation of Cultural Monuments in
Ladakh, Annual Report, 1983 (Zurich).
5. On the Kharakhoto group, cf. also Beguin, G. et al. "Dieux et Demons de 1'
Himalaya" Reunion des Musees nationaux, Paris, 1977, pp. 76-85. It is often
difficult to obtain the original publication, Oldenburg, S.F. Malerialy po
bouddiskoy iconografiy Khara-khoto. St. Petersbourg, 1914. In TheMuralsof
Alchi, Pal discusses these in relation to Lha-khang So-ma, pp. 22-23, 56-59.
6. Karmay, H. Early Sino-Tibetan Art, Aris and Philips, Warminster, 1975,
pp. 35-42, and plate 7 (page 18).
7. Dpa'-bo Gtsug-lag-'phreng-ba, Mkhas-pa'i dGa'-slon, Pa. folio 17-18.
Attention has been drawn to this passage by Stein, R. A., "Mi-nag et Si-hia:
geographic historique et legendes ancestrales," BEFEO, 1951, p. 247, note 2.
8. Cf. p. 42 of The Murals of Alchi for the identification of the portrait of
Padmasambhava. Pal has failed to indicate here something perhaps quite
significant in this context: Padmasambhava is represented at Alchi surrounded by his eight manifestations known as the Gu-ru mtshan brgyad. On
the right border of pi. LS 20, Nyi-ma'i 'od-zer, Shakyamuni instead of Shakya-
seng-ge, Gu-ru seng-ge sgra-grogs, and Rdo-rje 'gro-lod. On the left, Gu-ru
O-rgyan rdo-rje 'chang, Padmasambhava, Blo-ldan mchog-sred, and Gu-ru
Padma rgyal-po. Only five of these eight forms are attested (but without
iconographical description) in the habitual version of the earliest biography of
Padmasambhava, the Zangs-gling-ma, attributed to Nyang-ral (1124-1192).
The eight forms at Alchi do correspond to the bka'-thang of the 14th century,
but this alone cannot determine the date of the wall-paintings. Cf. A. M.
Blondeau, Annuaire de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Ve Section, Tome
85 (1976-77) and "Analysis of the biographies of Padmasambhava according to
Tibetan Tradition: classification of sources" in (eds. M. Aris and A. S. S. Kyi)
Tibetan Studies in Honor of Hugh Richardson, Warminster, 1980, pp. 45-52.
9. For the Dge-lugs-pa tradition of representing Santiraksita, cf. Olschak, B.
C, Mystic Art of Ancient Tibet, London, 1973, p. 119 (no. 25). She also gives
the Rnying-ma-pa iconographic tradition for his representation, pp. 24-25 op.cit.
10. Petech, L. The History of Ladakh, ISMEO, Rome, 1977, p. 19.
11. Petech, L. "The 'Bri-gung-pa sect in Western Tibet and Ladakh" in
Proceedings of the Csoma de Koros Memorial Symposium, Bibliotheca
Orientalis Hungarica, Vol. XXIII, Budapest, 1978, p. 323.
12. Cf. Clarke, G. "Who were the Dards?" in Kailash, Vol. V, no.4, Kathmandu,
1977, pp. 323-56. An excellent summary of pre-Buddhist religion in Tibet is
that of Blondeau, A. M. "Les religions du Tibet" in Histoire des Religions, t.
Ill, Encyclopedic de la Pleiade, Paris, 1976, pp. 234-47.
13. University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D., 1968. Fine Arts.
14. For paintings on silk, cf. Dagyab, L. S., Tibetan Religious Art, Harrassowitz,
Wiesbaden, 1977, p. 40. On turquoise in Tibet, Laufer has no less than five
areas where it is to be found as a local product—the Gangs chen mountains in
Mnga'-ris, Lhasa district, Chamdo district, Draya and Derge. Cf. Laufer, B.,
Turquoise in the East, Field Museum, Chicago, 1913, pp. 16-18.
Amy Heller
Ecole pratique des hautes etudes
W. Hellrigl andK. Gabrisch, Tibet: A Philatelic and Numismatic Bibliography
(George Alevizos, Santa Monica, California, 1983)
This thin volume lists 535 titles concerning not only the philatelic or
numismatic literature of Tibet but also the postal and currency system of that
The bibliography mentions seals in ink and wax, British medals (distributed
after the Younghusband expedition of 1903-1904 to the participants) and
"primitive money" such as tea bricks and silver bars. Included are articles
about fakes and imitations of coins, papermoney and stamps, as well as
auction catalogues and special exhibition catalogues.
Not only publications in well-known Western languages, but also in
Russian, Japanese, Chinese and even Nepali are mentioned in the bibliography.
The commentaries following each title give proof of the thorough knowledge of both the authors. They analyse in the shortest possible form the
content and illustrations of each publication, besides mentioning lots of
details of interest for the specialist and the layman. These commentaries give
many hints concerning the trade, history and anthropology of Tibet.
Therefore the bibliography provides valuable information not only for the
philatelist or numismatic collector, but also for the Tibetologist.
As introductions to the various sections, the reader finds illustrations of fine
examples of stamps, coins, medals and seals. The booklet closes with an index
and short biographies of the authors, who have presented us here, in a very
condensed form, with one result (out of many) of their experience of many
years as collectors, which will be gratefully acknowledged by all friends of
Veronika Ronge
Universitat Bonn
Luc Kwanten, The Timely Pearl, A 12th-Century Tangut Chinese Glossary,
Volume 1., The Chinese Glosses. (Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies,
Indiana University Uralic And Altaic Series, Bloomington, v. 142, 1982) 265
This poorly printed, badly written, and all-but-unedited book is virtually
beyond criticism: it promises a great many things, but it turns out to deliver so
few of them that in plain fact there is precious little here upon which to focus a
review, whether positive or negative. Not the least of the author's frequent
lapses from accepted academic norms—but among his most unedifying
specimens of the same—is his penchant for universally denigrating the work of
everyone who has dealt with this difficult and perplexing field before him.
This he does however generally without taking the risk of exposing his own
findings to the light of scrutiny or criticism, by the simple expedient of almost
never revealing, in satisfactory or indeed even in comprehensible detail, just
what his own presumably different and better findings may actually be.
Everyone else, we are told, has always been wrong: that is of course quite
possible, though not very probable. But what we are never shown, in this new
addition to Indiana University's once-prestigious series of monographs in the
Uralic and Altaic field, is how Kwanten's findings are any better or any more
correct than those of his here so heavily excoriated predecessors—much less by
what right he now considers himself entitled to bad-mouth their efforts.
Allededly, this book is a "study" of the only surviving Hsi-hsia-Chinese
bilingual text, the well-known Fan-Han ho-shih chang-chung chu of A.D.
1190. This printed text (not, as we shall find Kwanten alleging, a manuscript!)
is especially precious because of its Chinese phonetic and semantic glosses for
Tangut script forms. Nowhere in this publication does Kwanten attempt to
translate the Chinese title of this text, except once on the cover of his volume,
where he renders it The Timely Pearl. He does not explain that this rendition
is borrowed in truncated form from the English summary that accompanied
Nishida Tatsuo's two-volume study of Hsi-hsia language and script (of which
publication, more later). There Fan-Han ho-shih chang-chung chu was
rendered (not by Nishida, but by his penny-a-line English-language amanuensis) as The Timely Pearl in the Palm. This was an over-literal rendering of
the original; ho-shih does not mean 'timely' but rather 'essential' (as in "an
essential conversation manual for travelers"), and chang-chung chu is simply
a fancy way of saying 'handbook' or vade mecum. Fan-Han in the text's title
means, of course, Fan-Chinese, with fan, generally 'Tibetan,' here for Tangut
or Hsi-hsia. We shall adopt, for the rest of this review, Kwanten's abbreviation
CCC for this text; it is the only item from his study that may be taken over intact
without prejudice to further scholarly discourse.
As one of the earliest surviving written records for any of the Tibeto-Burman
languages, and also as one of the earliest bilingual monuments from the
Tibetan linguistic area in the broad sense, the CCC is of obvious importance to
Tibetan studies in general, and to Tibetan linguistics in particular; its study is
also a matter of obvious concern for the readers of the Journal of the Tibet
Of the CCC, Kwanten alleges (p. 8) that although obviously this text "as a
native, bilingual document is of the utmost importance for both the
phonology and the lexicography of the [Hsi-hsia] language," until his study
"it has been treated as merely an interesting but external source of data on the
language." This is not true. In documentation of this allegation, Kwanten
cites pp. 525-27 of the basic two-volume study of the Hsi-hsia language and
script by the Japanese scholar Nishida Tatsuo, his Seikago no kenkyu
(1964-66). But this citation directs us only to the English-language "summary"
of his work appended to the second of Nishida's two volumes, a "summary"
that, like most such attempts by Japanese scholars to epitomize their Japanese-
language publications in a foreign language, is more misleading than
Actually, in this instance even the passage in this English-language
summary that Kwanten cites demonstrates that his allegation is untrue; but if
he had gone the necessary step further and consulted Nishida's study, as he
purports to have done, he would have found on pp. 14-21 that Nishida made
the phonetic and semantic data that he was able to extract from the CCC into
an integral part of his reconstruction of Hsi-hsia phonology. A glance at
Nishida's Japanese text would have shown that the Japanese scholar, for better
or worse, two decades ago did precisely what Kwanten now proposes to do
himself—but does not even come close to carrying off. In a word, not only does
Kwanten's book tell us nothing, it need never have been written.
Thus dismissing Kwanten's claims to be the first to treat the materials of the
CCC properly—claims that are as presumptious as they are preposterous—the
reader soon discovers that Kwanten's self-styled "study" of this admittedly
important source for Hsi-hsia consists, in its entirety, of the following: (a)
introductory matter, with sub-divisions "Introduction," "The Document,"
and "The Phonological Hypothesis," covering pp. 1-38 (a carelessly written,
and even more carelessly printed, account of Tangut history and of the CCC,
together with a turgid account of the author's "phonological hypothesis" in
terms of which he proposes to reconstruct the phonetic details of the Hsi-hsia
language; (b) "Part II, Phonological Tables," which turns out to be the bulk of
the book, from p. 39 to p. 186 (this consists of copying out Karlgren's Middle
Chinese reconstructions, and Lo Ch'ang-pei's T'ang Five Dynasties Northwest
dialect reconstructions, for each Chinese character used as a phonetic gloss in
the CCC, then under each copying out the reconstructions of Nishida and
Sofronov for each Hsi-hsia character(s) using this phonetic gloss, but all
without a single reconstruction of a single Hsi-hsia form, or the decipherment
of a single Hsi-hsia graph, or the translation of a single entry from the Hsi-
hsia-Chinese bilingual that is ostensibly here being "studied." In a word, this
entire section is nothing but busy-work, copying out verbatim the work of
others, who are in the introductory matter roundly trounced for their many
alleged mistakes); (c) "Part III, Facsimile," pp. 187 to the end of the book
(offering badly reproduced and largely illegible plates of two different woodblock prints of the CCC). Even though it is obvious to a glance that these are
printed texts (indeed, given the wretched quality of the reproduction, that is
about all one can be sure of), Kwanten mysteriously labels these "Manuscript
A" (p. 188) and "Manuscript B" (p. 226). There is not a hint here as to how
these printed pages reproduced in his plates relate to his introductory account
of "The Document," nor any clue as to where or indeed just what his pseudo-
MS really is. One can only conclude that he himself really does not know,
otherwise surely he would have told us.
And that, for all its presumptions and allegations, is actually all there is to
this book: not a single Hsi-hsia Unguis tic form recovered or reconstructed, not
a single graph deciphered, nothing really ever explained, nothing really ever
stated or presented clearly and unequivocally—nothing, that it, except the
author's contempt for all his academic predecessors. "By and large," he tells us,
"the translations [of Nishida's edition of the CCC] can be accepted although
an important number of emendations have to be made" (p. 5). If that is so, what
are those emendations, and why doesn't Kwanten make them? "Laufer's
work . . . compounded the errors made by Ivanov. He accepted the Russian
scholar's translation at face value and failed to realize that in many instances
Ivanov read the material wrongly" (p. 7). If that is so, what were Ivanov's
errors, and how did Laufer compound them, and why doesn't Kwanten now
clear all this up? Previously published studies are scored as "nothing but
guesswork an [sic!] contain an exceedingly large number of unattested
meanings" (p. 35). Perhaps so, but in that case how is Kwanten any better, in
view of his careful avoidance of providing the reader with a single meaning for
a single Hsi-hsia form?
What at first might appear to be an exception to this book's uniform absence
of content is provided by pp. 29-31, where the author argues that the Hsi-hsia
language "presentfs] a number of syntactic features, such as verbal declensions,
pronominal comjugations [sic!], that are more closely related to Altaic
languages than to Sino-Tibetan languages" (p. 29). At first blush this would
appear to be something along the lines of a thesis, or at least a hypothesis, but
closer inspection shows that the exception suggested by these pages is only
apparent, not real: the circumstances under which the exception proves the
rule surely applies here.
Ever since B. Laufer's pioneer 1916 study of these same CCC materials (TP,
17, 1-126), the linguistic affiliation of Hsi-hsia within the Tibeto-Burman
group has been generally accepted. Of course, long-accepted positions on any
issue may often usefully be subjected to reinvestigation; and sometimes such
reinvestigation shows that it is necessary to revise long-held views. But reversal
of established positions cannot be accomplished either by fiat or allegation,
much less by simply impugning the reputation and scholarship of the earlier
scholars whose work provided the basis for the views in question: data,
documentation, and facts are all necessary.
In support of his more-than-slightly startling allegation that Laufer was
completely wrong, and that Hsi-hsia is not Tibeto-Burman but Altaic,
Kwanten first presents the truly cryptic information that "we indicated this in
a public lecture at Columbia University in 1977" (p. 38, note 30). That lecture
remains unpublished, and so the citation is really not much help. Apparently
Kwanten regards Hsi-hsia linguistic studies rather like opera fans do the late
Maria Callas in Norma: no good j ust reading about it, you had to be there—in
this case, you had to be at Columbia in 1977. We weren't.
Following close upon the heels of this cryptic citation, Kwanten then offers
two specific bodies of evidence for Hsi-hsia as an Altaic language. Neither
deals with "verbal declensions," whatever those may be (the term is hardly a
common linguistic collation). One apparently has to do with the putative
morphological location of the Hsi-hsia morph for verbal negation following
the verbal root or stem. If this is true, it is of course rather unlike Chinese and
Tibetan: but Kwanten tells us next to nothing about this feature, nor does he
venture to discuss its importance in linguistic-comparative terms, so that
really nothing can be made of any of this.
The other feature discussed in this brief section of the book is somewhat
clearer, actually involving a modicum of linguistic evidence, and as a
consequence quite simple to dismiss. Apparently this comes under what
Kwanten calls "pronominal comjugations." At any rate, he alleges that "in the
case of the personal pronouns, we find a number of nominal and oblique
forms, as well as a usage which strongly resembles that of these pronouns in
Altaic languages" (p. 29). End of the description. Fortunately, he then breaks
his usual rule and does give some linguistic forms in evidence, so we are able to
puzzle out the sense of this otherwise rather opaque statement.
The forms that are here alleged to have been reconstructed by Nishida and
Sofronov (not by Kwanten!) for first, second, and third person nominative, and
for first and third person oblique are arranged into a paradigm (with "N" for
Nishida's reconstructions, and "S" for Sofronov's) as follows:
1st per.                              2nd per. 3rd per.
nom.       nhaft (N), nga (S)            nih (N), ni (S) thafi (N), tha (S)
obi. mud (N), ml (S)  ,        mid (N), mi (S)
What Kwanten apparently is trying to argue here is that the language is
Altaic, not Sino-Tibetan, because it has oblique forms in m- for the first and
third person pronouns, as against nominatives in nga-, ni-, and tha-.
It is almost needless to add that this conclusion does not at all follow. First,
no forms could possibly be more redolent of Chinese, and of Tibetan—and
hence also of "Sino-Tibetan," if such a thing ever existed—than the
reconstructed nominatives that he cites from Nishida and Sofronov. Second,
ever since Bernard Karlgren's famous paper on "Le Proto-Chinois, Langue
flexionelle" (JA 1920, 205-32), we have all known that the earliest form of
Chinese had a distinctive paradigm for the pronoun, with a striking formal
differentiation between nominatives and obliques. If this sort of paradigm
makes Hsi-hsia Altaic, it also makes Chinese Altaic. Third—and most
important—the only thing that can be said with confidence about any putative
similarity between this Hsi-hsia paradigm and the original Altaic paradigm
for the declension (not the "comjugation," not even the conjugation) of the
pronoun is that the two do not resemble one another at all. If these Hsi-hsia
forms are correct, Hsi-hsia had pronouns with obliques in mi- and mu- stems,
as against nominatives in nga-, ni, and tha- stems. In Altaic, the pronoun
originally had a 1st person sg. nom. in *bi, with which went an oblique *man,
similarly for 2nd person sg. nom. *si but oblique *san, and for 3rd person sg.,
nom. *i but oblique *an. If anything here is held to look even remotely like the
Hsi-hsia paradigm—and it really does not—it can only be the fact that the 1st
person sg. has twoallomorphs: but the Altaic nominative is the one that looks
vaguely like the Hsi-hsia oblique—while vice versa, i.e., Hsi-hsia oblique vis-
a-vis Altaic nominative, there is absolutely no resemblance. In a word, Altaic
clearly has nothing to do with Kwanten's "pronominal conjugations." The
paradigm of English / nominative versus me oblique looks more like
Kwanten's Hsi-hsia paradigm than Altaic does. Are we then to regard English
as an Altaic language?
But the above refutation itself might well be accused of having made an
initial methodological error, since it takes the data for the Hsi-hsia personal
pronoun presented in Kwanten, pp. 29-30 at face value. A moment spent
checking with Nishida's Seikago no kenkyu shows that even this is wrong.
There is absolutely nothing to Kwanten's thesis about the putative Altaic
nature of the Hsi-hsia pronoun because the two oblique forms that Kwanten
cites are not pronouns at all, but verbal negatives (the Hsi-hsia graphs, and
their correct definitions, are to be found on pp. 476, graph 238-062, and p. 355,
graph 041-181, in Nishida's study).
Along with not consulting these pages in Nishida's study, Kwanten has also
not consulted Nishida's grammatical sketch of Hsi-hsia, loc. cit., pp. 269-271,
where he presents a complete account of the Hsi-hsia pronoun. It shows none
of the features alleged by Kwanten—but it does display interesting—and
significant—signs of a morphological phenomenon common to many Tibeto-
Burman languages and generally called 'verbal pronominalization'. This
Kwanten never mentions. But the oblique forms he does mention are all
demonstrably false, and so his Altaic thesis for the pronoun at least is also
demonstrably false; there simply is nothing to any of this.
The reader of this review will by this time have noticed how many of
Kwanten's errors, misstatements, and misunderstandings could have been
avoided—indeed, how this entire book could well have been avoided—if
Kwanten had ever actually consulted Nishida's Seikago no kenkyu, a book that
he alleges to cite many times. The two hefty volumes of Nishida's study were
published in Kyoto where Nishida lives and works. When we find Kwanten at
least twice (p. 33, p. 40) erroneously listing their place of publication as Tokyo,
we begin to suspect that he has never seen the books in question. But even
citing Nishida on Hsi-hsia without actually ever looking at his book as a
technique for scholarly obsfucation is not anything for which Kwanten can
claim priority: it was initiated a decade ago by Paul Benedict and James
Matisoff (cf. JAOS 94, 1974, 201-202). There are many problems in Nishida's
long and elaborate study of Hsi-hsia. It deserves—and has yet to receive—a
searching, critical inspection. But for all its problems, it also deserves to stop
being 'cited' inaccurately, irresponsibly, and sight-unseen, by foreign scholars
who by the plain internal evidence of their own writing may be demonstrated
never once to have looked inside it.
Reconstructing the Hsi-hsia language, and deciphering the Hsi-hsia
script—the two basic issues that this book never approaches, much less
solves—are both, after all, essentially linguistic problems; and it soon becomes
clear that at least one of the reasons why Kwanten has been so astonishingly
unsuccesful even in coming to grips with his self-imposed subject, not to
mention his abject failure to deal with it either responsibly or convincingly, is
to be identified in his truly astonishing naivete concerning the science of
linguistics. Frequently it is this naivete that also propells more than a few of
his sullen and ill-advised polemics against his predecessors: he reads out his
betters for no more reason than merely because he cannot understand what it
was that they were doing when they were doing linguistics.
Kwanten's p. 7 bristles with examples of this sort of thing. "The major
difficulty," he writes, "with Laufer's study is not its weak phonetic reconstruction, but the fact that he assumed that the words in Ivanov's list were basic
semantic units. . . . Laufer, like Ivanov, assumed that the Hsi Hsia characters
were similar to Chinese characters; hence, they assumed that the character for
man, to give but one example, was always the same, regardless of its
functions." None of this is remotely true. Laufer was an extraordinarily sound
philologist, and a remarkably competent linguist. He took Hsi-hsia words for
and as words, for better or worse (and pace any problems that Ivanov may have
introduced); such nebulous modern nonsense as 'basic semantic units' is
mercifully anachronistic for Laufer's time, and wickedly libelous for the work
of Laufer himself.
As for such vapid vagueness as Kwanten's insouciant reference (repeated
twice this same page) to "the [Hsi-hsia] character for man," the less said the
better: man is surely (or the last one heard it still was ) an English word, not
Hsi-hsia; and to write of "the [Hsi-hsia] character for man" demonstrates that
Kwanten is not only linguistically liable, he also does not understand the
essential difference between language and writing—not very good philological equipment for one not only determined to plunge into the study of a
virtually unknown language written in a still largely undeciphered script, but
along the way to sweep into oblivion generations of painstaking previous
scholarship on these same problems.
One also reads with genuine astonishment references to "the poor transliteration qualities of Chinese" (p. 37), as if somehow that particular language
suffered from some inherent disability or affliction. In evidence for this
linguistically meaningless calumny, we are told that "Chinese lo [after which
there is a long lacuna, where apparently a Chinese character was supposed to
be hand-written in, but never got done] renders both the Tibetan bio and the
Turkic ra" (loc. cit.). Again, language and script are so confused in Kwanten's
text that it is all but impossible to unravel what he is saying; but as everyone
else working in the field knows perfectly well, the Chinese transcriptions of
foreign  words  (he  is really  talking about  transcription,  of course,  not
'transliteration') were historically just as precise or just as loose as the
circumstances behind their employment warranted. There are T'ang period
transcriptions of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit texts into Chinese that are (and, by
the nature of the texts, had to be) models of accuracy and precision; the Mongol
and Ming transcriptions of Middle Mongolian distinguish rand /, q and k, and
all the other critical phonological contrasts of Mongolian phonological
structure; if Chinese lo appears to render 'Turkic ra', that is because modern
Chinese lo goes back to earlier *la; if the T'ang transcriptions of Tibetan
render Tib. bio as lo, that is because whoever did the transcriptions heard bio
pronounced as lo, not because of any "poor transliteration qualities of
Chinese," etc., etc. Examples of this sort of thing in this book could be
multiplied virtually without limit; to discuss them further would only be to
pay them more credit than they deserve.
In view of Kwanten's demonstrated inability to distinguish language from
writing, his genial indifference to the identity of specific languages, not to
mention their involved historical relationships within the tangled web of
Central Asian history, is hardly surprising, though none the less reprehensible.
In an attempt to prove the superiority of his reconstruction of Hsi-hsia—one of
the few passages in the book where any evidence for any of his "findings" is
actually cited—he writes as follows: "In the examples below, a number of
Sanskrit names have been extracted from the Hsi Hsia translation of the
Suvarnaprabhasa. The Hsi Hsia translation differs sufficiently from the
Chinese model to be considered an original text, not a slavish translation" (p.
22). He proceeds, inter alia, to offer "da/dai r(a)/la ni" (p. 24) as his
reconstruction (which he mysteriously categorizes as "a phonetic scheme that
can accomodate both Chinese and Sanskrit data," p. 25) for the Hsi Hsia
borrowing of Buddhist Sanskrit dharani, which he incidently simplifies (p. 24)
to dharani.
Again, one must resist the temptation to dignify this sort of thing with
elaborate correction and refutation, and so we will limit ourselves instead to a
few salient points: (1) in an article published almost thirty years ago in Biblia,
Bulletin of Tenri Central Library, No. 11, July 1958, pp. 13-20, Nishida
Tatsuo demonstrated that all the existing Hsi-hsia translations of the
Mahayana canon are secondary retranslations from earlier Chinese translations, but sometimes and in some parts showing that the translators also
frequently had reference to Tibet an translations; (2) in the same article, he
demonstrated that there are at least two different Hsi-hsia versions of the
Suvarnaprabhasasutra, but also that both are retranslations from the Chinese;
(3) further, in this same article, he specifically discussed the Hsi-hsia versions
of Buddhist Sanskrit dharani, showing that his reconstruction (which
Kwanten miscopies, and misquotes) of this form as *doloni substantiates the
borrowing of the form into Hsi-hsia via a Chinese intermediate, while in the
incipit of a Hsi-hsia translation of the Arya MdrTcT-ndma dharani in the Tenri
University Library Collection ( = Tohoku Cat. 988, Hphags-mo hod-zer-can
zes-bya bahi gzuhs; Taisho 1257), the same term appears in another Hsi-hsia
writing that he reconstructs as *thanrafa\, still hardly "Sanskrit," but indeed
showing signs of the translator(s) having paid more attention to some original
Indie form than to its Chinese borrowing.
At best Kwanten's account of what he is attempting to do in this passage is
internally self-contradictory. He argues that the Hsi-hsia Suvarnaprabhdsa-
sutra is an "original text," yet he would go directly to "Sanskrit" to establish
the forms for Indie loans in the same. At worst, it suggests that the Hsi-hsia
translators were either able or willing to go to Indie originals in rendering the
canon, furthermore that those originals were in "Sanskrit"—both of which are
quite absurd propositions. The language of the Indie originals of the
Suvarnaprabhdsasutra are no more in "Sanskrit" than the Sursum Corda is in
Latin—rather less, actually—even begging the question of whether the Hsi-
hsia translators had at hand any Indie originals in the first place, which too is
unlikely in the extreme.
But at this point, we find ourselves back where we were with Kwanten's
allegations about the Hsi-hsia pronouns: the refutation, plain and simple
though it is, of his views hardly matters, since his forms and the claims that
"The Sanskrit examples were chosen so that the Hsi Hsia character functions
not only as a phonetic gloss for the Sanskrit but is also an attested morpheme in
the language itself" (pp. 22-23). Once again, a moment spent checking in
Nishida's book shows that this too, like his pronominal paradigms, is simply
Of the three Hsi-hsia graphs employed in his putative reconstruction of the
word dharani, ior example, the first two (Nishida, p. 351, number 039-098, and
Nishida, p. 320, graph 088-111) are both registered in the Hsi-hsia corpus as
graphs employed solely (and as in this word) as transcription characters to
render the sound of foreign words, not as "attested morphemefs] in the
language itself." (The third, Nishida, p. 313, graph 007-065, is a grammatical
participle in Hsi-hsia, but the carelessly scrawled form with which it is written
on p. 24 [compare the quite different scrawl seventh from the top on this same
page, which is supposed to be the same Hsi-hsia graph! ] leaves in question the
identity of this graph anyway.)
The low esteem in which Kwanten holds his scholarly forerunners is more
than matched by the contempt that his publishers obviously entertain for
anyone foolish enough to purchase, or to attempt to read, this book. We have
already noticed the chaotic arrangement and virtually illegible condition of
the only portion of the volume remotely likely to be of use to anyone, i.e., the
facsimiles of the CCC blockprint that occupy p. 187 ff. But over and above this,
there is—for what little it is worth—the text proper of Kwanten's study to
reckon with; and even for these days of generally hand-made, kitchen-sink
samizdat' academic publication, this book marks a new nadir.
The book reproduces typed masters with hand-written inserts for Chinese,
Hsi-hsia, and diacritics. The typing appears never to have been proof-read (so
that one finds such mysteries as references to the "iiOth century," p. 10);
sometimes the typist left blank space for the insertion of the handwritten
materials, sometimes he or she did not. Sometimes someone wrote something
into the blank spaces left by the typist, sometimes someone did not and the
reader now has the blanks left open to fill in at will. When something had to be
written in and the typist had not left space for it, it was then scribbled between
or over or under the lines as luck would have it; etc., etc.—in a word, simple
chaos, and plain contempt for the reader.
Moreover, what has been written in on the typewritten masters is almost
always so badly and carelessly scrawled that one is more often than not hard
put to tell the Chinese from the Hsi-hsia: the one script is quite as lamentably
deformed, mishapen, and disfigured as the other. Whoever is responsible for
the sorry scrawls that here masquerade as Chinese characters is, like too many
beginning students of Chinese and Japanese, laboring under the sorry
misunderstanding that cursive calligraphy consists in wildly scrawling the
script in an idiosyncratic and self-indulgent fashion. The results, as now
preserved in these pages for distribution to libraries throughout the world, can
only baffle and bemuse scholars everywhere—in the unlikely case, that is, that
our Chinese and Japanese colleagues even recognize these sorry scribbles as
attempts to write Chinese. And with perfectly ordinary Chinese characters
miswritten in this almost unbelievable fashion, what has happened to the Hsi-
hsia graphs may be left to the reader's imagination. When their index-numbers
are given (and when these numbers prove, as they do on occasion, to be correct),
it is possible to identify the genuine Hsi-hsia graphs in the lists of Nishida or
Sofronov; verifying a few in this fashion soon reveals that they have suffered
the same graphic fate as the Chinese, but in spades.
So also for the diacritics in which almost every one of the forms copied from
Nishida and Sofronov bristle. These too have been carelessly scrawled into the
typed masters—or on occasion, carelessly omitted—with a fine abandon,
suggesting whoever did the writing understood nothing of what these marks
were originally intended to represent. Most shocking of all, there is not
anywhere in these pages a single word of explanation for even one of the many
different arbitrary phonetic symbols and signs employed by the different
authors whose reconstructions, both of Chinese and Hsi-hsia, are here copied
out by Kwanten. Each of the scholars concerned has used his own transcription
and reconstruction conventions. To bring these together, as here, without a
word of explanation for the symbols employed, is to reduce the whole body of
these materials to nonsense—even if the many different symbols involved had
been copied neatly and accurately, which is anything but the case.
There has also been a great garble of the typed masters for the first portion of
the volume somewhere between the typewriter and the camera: p. 4 promises a
note 3, but the note 3 printed on p. 33 is not the right one for this passage, it
goes instead with note 5 on p. 5; note 6 on p. 34 corresponds to nothing at all in
the text; etc. In a word, visually and graphically, and as an example of how a
book is be put together, this volume's physical preparation is in every way on
precisely the same sorry level as its scholarly content.
In a word, then, it is obvious that this new contribution to the Sino-Tibetan
linguistic literature is totally without merit or excuse. It is beneath scholarly
notice. This in turn leaves us to answer the question, why notice it at all,
particularly to the length of the present review? The answer lies in the fact that
the book deals with a topic of great potential importance for future work in the
field of Inner Asian linguistics. There is the great danger that its publication
will lead in either one of two different directions, both of them unfortunate in
the extreme. On the one hand, readers may be led to believe that anything in
Kwanten's work can be taken at face value, which is not true. On the other
hand, readers may conclude that nothing at all of scientific value can possibly
be made of Hsi-hsia linguistic studies, which is also far from the case. When
any scholarly problem has been approached in the uninformed, arrogant, self-
seeking manner that disfigures the pages of this book, there is always the
imminent danger that more responsible scholarship will, if only from
considerations of fastidious self-protection, shy away from the entire area for
generations to come.
This last, the most likely fall-out effect of this publication, would be doubly
unfortunate because, in actual fact, there is much in the work of Nishida,
Sofronov, and the others who have concerned themselves with this field that
would benefit from serious, informed, and responsible critical review.
Nishida's work in particular deals on a grand scale with putative phonetic
reconstructions of an almost unbelievable degree of elaboration. The many
diacritic marks and special letters with which his reconstruction of Hsi-hsia
bristles (most of them carelessly reproduced in this book, and none of them ever
explained) point up one of the many areas of his work that urgently calls for
painstaking, competent review and critique. The great danger—and the great
pity—of this fatras by Kwanten is that there will almost surely be a natural
reluctance on the part of responsible scholars in the field to get involved in any
of this in the near future, lest they too end up being tarred with the same brush.
There is also the unpleasant question of squandering scarce financial
resources on this sort of thing, resources that others are now unlikely to come
by again. One reads with disbelief, in the book's front-matter, that "The
Research was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the
Humanities." Senator Proxmire, where are you—and your Golden Fleece
Award—when we really need you?
But in all truth, a book like this is no laughing matter, no matter how risible
one may in fact find it. Even before its appearance, Hsi-hsia studies were at an
impasse, with so many mutually conflicting claims for mutually contradictory
reconstructions and decipherments from various academic circles that everyone seriously concerned about the field was virtually at a loss to know what to
make of all this. We have seen that Kwan ten's Timely Pearl is far from being a
pearl; but in one sense at least, it may actually prove to be timely, if only it
serves to focus attention on the sorry state of Hsi-hsia researches, and if it
encourages other, more competent and more responsible investigators to do
something about it.
One is reminded, in many ways, of the situation that obtained in the
decipherment of cuneiform in the mid-nineteenth century, and also of the
striking demonstration, proposed by Fox Talbot in 1855, that, as one account
has put it, "officially declared the gates of cuneiform open" (Maurice Pope,
The Story of Archaeological Decipherment, New York, 1975, p. 117, where the
whole story is competently and entertainingly related). On that occasion,
various scholars submitted, in sealed envelopes, their independent translations
of a newly discovered cuneiform inscription, the clay cylinder with the
inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I, King of Assyria, to an outside committee that
judged, not directly on the merits of the decipherment, but simply on the
amount of agreement between the translations submitted.
One of the factors that has made all existing claims from Hsi-hsia
reconstruction and decipherment less than convincing is that they have dealt
almost exclusively with Hsi-hsia translations of Chinese originals. We can of
course read the Chinese originals, so claims also to be able to read the Hsi-hsia
translations of those originals necessarily lack the power of conviction. Now it
is probably time to run a Fox Talbot-style demonstration with an original
Hsi-hsia text, minus a Chinese version. Let Nishida, Sofronov, and, if he
wishes to participate, Kwanten, all do independent translations of a Hsi-hsia
original, and submit them to an outside, impartial committee for comparison.
Short of something along those lines, there seems to be as little point, for the
present at least, in the generation of still more contending schools of Hsi-hsia
studies as there is in the allegations, undemonstrated claims and undocumented speculations, not to mention the many downright distortions and
mistakes, of Luc Kwanten's Timely Pearl.
Roy Andrew Miller
University of Washington
Hopkins, J., The Yoga of Tibet. The Great Exposition of Secret Mantra — 2
and3, by Tsong-ka-pa. Introduced by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
Translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins (The Wisdom of Tibet Series,
London, George Allen &: Unwin. 1981) viii + 272 pp.
This work consists of three parts. The first (pp. 1-42) is an introductory
section by His Holiness the present Dalai Lama, and translated by Jeffrey
Hopkins. The second (pp. 43-203) is a translation by Jeffrey Hopkins of a
portion of the Shags rim chen mo which he labels "2," calling it "Action
Tantra," and "3," calling it "Performance Tantra." The third part (pp.
205-259) is the translator's supplement about the ideas and literature of "2"
and "3," glossary and bibliography.
One can only describe the Dalai Lama's introduction to the main ideas as
brilliant. However, the general reader is forced to read this through the
translator's eyes. As to his rendition of Bya ba'i rgyud as "Action Tantra" and
Spyod pa'i rgyud as "Performance Tantra" I wonderwhy the original Sanskrit
(Kriya-tantra and Carya-tantra) would not be better, since 'action' and
'performance' are rather inane renditions. Is there not also 'action' and
'performance' in both of them? The translator does not even admit to
demurring over the words, as though there might have been some difficulty.
The main part is of course the translation of "2" and "3." Hopkins hopes to
demonstrate the correctness of the translation by a remarkable statement in
"Translator's Note": "Part II was orally retranslated into Tibetan for Lati
Rinbochay for the sake of correction and verification, and a complete
commentary on the same was received from Denma Locho Rinbochay." This
is a direct challenge to any reviewer that a criticism of the translation is a
disrespect to the learned Tibetan lamas whose precious advice he utilized at
every step. Of course, such an attitude goes with regarding the text being
translated as something holy. I also regard the Shags rim chen mo as a great
work of literature. It deserves great care in translating. Sol shall go ahead with
the job of reviewing, because if perchance the translation is found faulty in
some respect this is not disrespect to those lamas: it is respect for the text.
I shall concern myself with certain important citations, namely of the
Vairocandbhisambodhi-tantra (with my signal V-A-T) and the Concentration
Continuation (as Hopkins renders the Bsam gtan phyi ma rim par phye ba),
but have space only to treat a few of them.
Take Hopkins, p. 184, two verses that I happen to know are from V-A-T,
Chap. II, 238-39; and his translation: "The Buddha explains these pledges to
you—a good system of conduct. Protect these just as you would protect your
own life." The Tibetan, brtuliugs bzah po khyod la b'sad, means "explains to
you, O goodly avowed one"—the vocative.
Hopkins, p. 192, citation from V-A-T, in fact, its Chap. V, "augmented with
the word of withdrawal" for Tib. slar sdudpa yi tshig gis non. But slarsdudpa,
occurring various times, similarly misunderstood, is a grammatical term
meaning 'reiteration'; and non is a weak imperative of a verb meaning to
'restrain'; hence, "One should restrain by way of the repeated words." Ibid.,
Hopkins: "Join the letters to the letter [a moon disk]," for Tib. yi ge dan ni ye
ge sbyar. As to how the Tibetans, such as Tsoii-kha-pa, understood this, since
Buddhaguhya's commentary for Chap. V of the scripture was lost: they
resorted to the work Hopkins calls Concentration Continuation with Buddhaguhya's commentary thereon. Hence, the passage cited earlier (Hopkins,
p. 144), which shows that one of the termsyzgeisnotayzge, rather is a mi'gyur
ba ('an unchanging'). The reason is that yi ge translates the Sanskrit aksara,
and mi 'gyur ba translates a-ksara. The translators of the V-A-T mistakenly
translated both by yi ge, while those of the Concentration Continuation got it
right. Tsori-kha-pa does not explain this because he does not write a
grammatical commentary. In the Shags rim chen mo he expects the reader to
understand the cited verses; he sometimes cites them without comment, or adds
further information, or explains some of the procedure involved. But
Hopkins, as is obvious from p. 144, and elsewhere, was trying to useTsori-kha-
pa's words to understand the cited verse. This is why Hopkins' troubles in
translating the text center on the citations. There are other drawbacks about
his rendition of this citation on p. 192, but I shall pass to a different one.
Hopkins, pp. 186-7, the heading "Mundane and Supramundane Yoga"
with a citation of the V-A-T, in fact, its Chap. IX, and a brief comment by
Tsori-kha-pa. Here Hopkins puts in various expressions in brackets. My
thesis: Hopkins did not understand anything in the citation of the V-A-T, did
not understand the author's comment, and the many bracketed expressions are
pointless. Hopkins' first brackets: [The yoga for prior approximation] shows
the crude expression 'approximation' for this text's emphasis on "preliminary
service," which in fact takes six months. Then he gives Tsori-kha-pa's division
into mundane and supramundane and adds in brackets, "which are other
names for the yogas with and without signs." This directly contradicts the
cited scripture, which I give here (2!4verses): / phyi dari nari gi sbyor ba
yis / yan lagbzi parias bsadpa / deyari 'jigrten payi ste / dmigspacanni bla
med pa / slar sdud pa yi tshig gis non / lha yi rjes su sori ba'i yid / sub ste
bzlas brjod byed pa'i mchog / dmigs pa can la bstan pa yin / yid kyi 'jig rten
'das zes bya / slar sdud la sogs rnam par sparis / lha dari gcig tu byed pa
dari / tha dad ma yin 'dsin pa yi / yid kyis rari bzin dbyer med bya / gzan du
bya ba ma yin no /
This is Hopkins' translation of this passage:
I have explained [the yoga] having four branches with external and internal
application. This is the unsurpassed worldly imagination. Augmented with the word
of withdrawal, the mind which has accorded with the deity is taught as the supreme of
whispered repetitions, having apprehension.
For the mentally supramundane, withdrawal [from external branches of repetition
to the internal] and so forth are completely abandoned. [Oneself and the deity] are
made undifferentiable in [terms of empty] nature through a mind creating oneness
with the deity['s form] and not conceiving of [physical] difference.
In no other way is [supramundane repetition] to be done. First of all, we
notice the same line in this passage that he previously got wrong, to wit, his
"augmented with the word of withdrawal." Notice also that the Tib. dmigs pa
can is repeated; and the first time he translates it "imagination," the second
time "havingapprehension." Hedid not recognize that this term dmigs pa can
means 'apprehension (of outward object)' and that it was repeated because it is
given first for the mundane case and next for the supramundane case, both of
which are 'yoga with signs.' Therefore, also, he mistook the terms phyi and
nan as "external and internal," whereas the scripture uses them as 'outward'
and 'inward,'and uses the 'inward'only for the case of 'yoga with signs.'Above
all, even with Hopkins' mistranslations, he has not succeeded in a cogent
statement of translation; that is to say, a discerning reader would have cause to
wonder if the scripture is badly written, and if so, why bother to cite such
nonsense? It is therefore with respect for the scripture and for Tsori-kha-pa's
good judgement in citing it, that I here give my suggestion for translation:
I have explained the four members [i.e., in Tibetan, yi ge, mi 'gyur ba, gii, and second
gii] by outward and inward praxis. Besides, one should restain by way of repeated
words the incomparable mundane one possessed of apprehension (of outward
object). I teach that the mind which is consistent with the deity has the best whispered
recitation, and is possessed of apprehension (of the deity object), (so) called the
"supramundane mind." (The inward praxis) avoids the repetition, and soon; acts as
one with the deity and does not conceive a difference. The indissoluble nature is to be
made by the mind. There is no other way to make it.
On this passage, Tsori-kha-pa makes this remark: 'di'i 'jig rten las 'das pa yari
'phags pa'i rgyud kyi zag med la mi byed kyi bdag med pa'i rnam pa can dari
des zin pa'i rnal 'byor yin no/. I render this: "The supramundane of this
passage does not mean the non-flux (andsrava) of a noble person's stream of
consciousness, but is his selflessness character and the yoga comprised by it."
The implication is that both the mundane and the supramundane yoga is
subject to 'flux' (dsrava), and that only the inward praxis of acting as one with
the deity is free from it; and this is Tsori-kha-pa's explanation of the scripture's
'impure yoga' (with signs) and 'pure yoga' (without signs). Tsori-kha-pa's
passage is translated above without a single bracketed expression: see
Hopkins' version:
The supramundane in this passage does not refer to a non-contaminated [wisdom
consciousness in the continuum of a Superior directly realizing emptiness] but is [a
consciousness] having the aspect of selflessness [that is, realizing emptiness conceptually or directly] or a yoga conjoined with that [in which the wisdom
consciousness itself manifests in form].
I need not comment further on this style of adding a multitude of bracketed
expressions as a substitute for understanding and communicating the author's
passage. In fact, practically every citation I looked at while reviewing this work
had some minor or major fault. Since the present part of the Shags rim chen mo
is about the easiest of the long work, I dread what we shall be treated to if
Hopkins continues with later parts of this great native work of Tibet.
It remains to mention that a  fine feature of the present work is the
illustrations of the 'seals' (mudrd), thirty-eight in number.
Alex Wayman
Columbia University
Richard Sherburne, ed. and tr., A Lamp for the Path and Commentary of Atisa
(London, George fc Unwin, 1983 = The Wisdom of Tibet Series, 5) xiv + 226
Das vorliegende Buch, das sich dem Ziel der Reihe "The Wisdom of Tibet
Series" entsprechend an ein allgemeines Leserpublikum wendet, geht zuriick
auf die 1976 vorgelegte von Turrell V. Wylie betreute Dissertation "A Study of
Atisa's Commentary on His Lamp of the Enlightenment Path (Byang chub
lam gyi sgron ma'i dka' 'grel)". . . University of Washington, die aus einer
annotierten Cbersetzung des Byah chub lam gyi sgron ma (BodhipathapradTpa)
und des Byah chub lam gyi sgron ma'i dka' 'grel (BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd)
sowie dem Abdruck der beiden Texte nach dem Peking- und dem Derge-
Tanjur besteht.
Die besondere Bedeutung des vorliegenden Bandes ist darin zu sehen, daft
jetzt eine erste vollstandige Cbersetzung der BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd—nach
demPeking-Tanjur—allgemeinzuganglich ist (Seite 15-187). Diesen Kommen-
tar zum BodhipathapradTpa charakterisiert Christian Lindtner in der Vor-
bemerkung zur Cbertragung eines kurzen Stuckes daraus ("Atisa's Introduction to the Two Truths, and Its Sources. Appendix: Atisa's Commentary to
BodhipathapradTpa 189-208". Journal of Indian Philosophy 9 [1981], 205):
". . . theBodhimdrgadTpapanjikddoesnotseem to have received the attention
to which its importance entitles it. Though a late source it is none the less
noteworthy for its rich historical information and as a testimony of one of the
last attempts to provide a comprehensive survey of Buddhism in India."
Die "Introduction" (Seite x-xiii) spricht kurz von der Entstehungder beiden
ubersetzten Werke und weist auf deren Bedeutung fur das religiose Leben
Tibets hin. Zu dem kurzen Lebensbild des Atisa (Seite xi-xii) erscheinen keine
Quellenangaben; die Formulierung "all his biographers" deutet aber an, daft
es mehrere Lebensbeschreibungen gibt. Von den bisher erschienenen Cber-
setzungen des BodhipathapradTpa in europaische Sprachen—derzeit sechs—
nennt R. Sherburne nur zwei, und zwar in der "Bibliography" (Seite 204-220)
(Sarat Chandra Das, "Bodhi Patha PradTpa". Journal of the Buddhist Text
Society of India, Vol. I, Pt I, 39-48, Pt III, 21-26, und Alaka Chatto-
padhyaya/Lama Chimpa in A. Chattopadhyaya, AtT'sa and Tibet. Life and
Works of DTpamkara SrTjndna in relation to the History and Religion of Tibet.
Calcutta [1967], 525-535. Unerwahnt bleiben: Jose Van den Broeck, Le
flambeau sur le chemin de I'Eveil (BodhipathapradTpa). Texte tibetain edite,
traduit et annote. Bruxelles 1976. (Publications de l'lnstitut Beige des Hautes
Etudes Bouddhiques. Serie "Etudes et Textes". 5.), 1-12, Helmut Eimer,
BodhipathapradTpa. Ein Lehrgedicht des Atisa (DTparnkarasrTjnana) in der
tibetischen Vberlieferung. Wiesbaden 1978. (Asiatische Forschungen. 59.),
105-141, Alex Wayman, Calming the Mind and Discerning the Real. Buddhist
Meditation and the Middle View. From the Lam rim chen mo of Tsori-kha-pa.
New York 1978, 9-14, (Gonsar Tulku/Brian C. Beresford,) "Atisha's 'Lamp
for the Path' ". Mahayana Texts on the Graded Path. Published in Memory of
the Bodhisattva Tenzin Gyaltsen, the Khunnu Lama Rinpoche. Dharamsala,
H. P. 1978, 1-25 (Pothi), und die Fassung der Cbersetzung in R. Sherburnes
Dissertation. Jetzt liegt noch vor Christian Lindtner, "Lampen pa vejen til den
hpjesteoplysning". Gads religionshistoriske tekster. K^benhavn 1984,159-163
(Abschnitt 7.3.16.).
Die Cbersetzung des BodhipathapradTpabildet den Anfang des eigentlichen
Buches (Seite 1-13), zu ihr za'hlt eine aus dem Kommentar abgeleitete
Gliederungsiibersicht (Seite 1). R. Sherburne unterteilt—wie auch andere
Autoren (z.B. Alex Wayman)—den Text in 68 Strophen; die Behandlung der
Verse im Kommentar zeigt jedoch, daft diese weitgehend mechanische
Aufteilung nicht immer angemessen ist. So ist nach den beiden ersten Zeilen
des Verses 8 (Zeile 29-30) ein Einschnitt anzusetzen, wie sich aus der
Behandlung der beiden Teile dieser Strophe in der BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd
(Peking-Tanjr, dbu ma, ki, Folio 280a6-7 und 284a7) zeigt. Dies laftt auch die
Cbersetzung durch R. Sherburne erkennen: Zeile 29-30 erscheinen im Ab-
schnitt "II Sevenfold Worship: The Good Practice" (Seite 25-28); Zeile 31-32
hingegen im Abschnitt "IV The Heart of Enlightenment" (Seite 34). Daft nach
der Verszeile 30, also mitten in der Strophe 8, ein neuer Abschnitt beginnt,
kann man auch aus zwei spateren Kommentaren zum BodhipathapradTpa
ersehen (Byah chub lam gyi sgron ma'i rnam bsad phul byuh bsad pa'i dga'
ston des Bio bzari chos kyi rgyal mtshan (Panchen Lama I.) (1567-1662) und
Byah chub lam gyi sgron ma'i 'grel pa gzuh don gsal ba'i hi ma des Brag dkar
sprul sku Bio bzari dpal ldan bstan 'dzin snan grags (19. Jhdt), sieheH. Eimer,
BodhipathapradTpa, 203, 210, 217 und 223).
Fur die Cbersetzung des Grundtextes verwendet R. Sherburne eine gehobenere
Form der Sprache, dies zeigt sich deutlich beim Vergleich mit der nicht
allgemein zuganglichen Dissertation; der Grund fur dieses Vorgehen mag in
der Cberlegung gegeben sein, daft der BodhipathapradTpa in Tibet memoriert
wurde, wenn die BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd studiert werden sollte. Die Cbersetzung des Kommentars hingegen bemiiht sich, dem Leser entgegen-
zukommen; daher werden umstandlichere Konstruktionen, wenn z.B. ver-
kiirzte Zitate aus kanonischen Quellen eingefiihrt werden, aufgelost: So gibt R.
Sherburne die ersten dreizehn Strophen der BhadracarT in Cbertragung (Seite
25-27), um bei der Wiedergabe der Interpretation durch den Kommentar sich
auf die Verszahlen beziehen zu konnen und nicht die angefiihrten Anfa'nge der
jeweiligen Strophen zu deren Kennzeichnung iibertragen—und entsprechend
erganzen—zu miissen.
Leider sind auch Stellen zu finden, an denen die Konstruktion des
tibetischen Originals miftverstanden wurde. Das auffalligste Beispiel erscheint
auf Seite 18:
"In this area of Tibet there are persons who misinterpret the Mahayana Path of
the Buddha's teaching. Gurus and Spiritual Friends are arguing back and
forth about things they themselves do not comprehend."
Diese Cbertragung enthalt die fur den Buddhismus Tibet unvorstellbare
Behauptung, daft gurus und kalydnamitras die rechte Lehre nicht verstanden
hatten. Im tibetischen Text lautet dieses Stuck (Folio 278b5-6):
bod kyi yul 'di na saris rgyas kyi bstan pa theg pa chen po'i lam 'di la log par
rtog pa'i gari zag bla ma dge ba'i bses gnen gyis yoris su ma zin pa dag phan
tshun rtsod ciri. . .
Man mufi diese beiden Teilsatze, die auch in der biographischen Cber-
lieferung iiber Atisa erscheinen, wohl folgendermafien verstehen:
"[Weil] hier im Lande Tibet Menschen mit falscher Denkweise, die von
keinem Lehrer, [der ja] ein Freund [auf dem Wege] zum Heil [ist,] richtig
geleitet werden, iiber die Lehre des Buddha, diesen Weg des Mahayana, hin
und her disputieren ..."
Von besonderem Wert diirfte es fur fachkundigen Benutzer sein, daft R.
Sherburne in den Anmerkungen, die an den Kapitelenden zusammengefaftst
werden, zu sehr vielen Zitaten buddhistischer Schriften in Grundtext und
Kommentar die Stellenangaben im Kanon anfiihrt, und zwar in dem Nachdruck
des tibetischen Tripitaka aus Peking (Abktirzung "Ot."). Wenn Zitate aus
Texten erscheinen, von denen Cbersetzungen ins Englische oder Franzosische
allgemein verbreitet sind, wird so gut wie nur auf diese Bezug genommen.
Damit sind fast alle zitierten Stticke identifiziert. Den Sanskrit-Parallelen geht
R. Sherburne nicht weiter nach, sonst hatte er zu neun Strophen des
BodhipathapradTpa eine dem heute verlorenen Original nahestehende Fassung
finden konnen: Strophe 15-17 (Verszeile 59-70) sind als Zitat aus der
VTradattapariprcchain der Bodhicaryavatdrapahjika und im ersten Bhdvandkrama
des KamalasTla erhalten, Strophe 26-31 (Verszeile 105-128) als Zitat aus dem
Mahju'srTbuddhaksetragunavyuhalahkdrasutra im Siksasamuccaya des Santi-
Die im BodhipathapradTpa und in der BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd erschein-
enden Titel von buddhistischen Schriften fiihrt R. Sherburne nur in englischer
Cbersetzung an, und zwar—wie eine Vorbemerkung zum ersten Teil der
"Bibliography" (Seite 204) sagt—tibertragen nach den tibetischen oder
Sanskrit-Formen, die sich in Atisas Werken finden. Dies mag ein Vorgehen
sein, das fur ein allgemeines Publikum zunachst sinnvoll erscheint; bei dem
Bemiihen jedoch, tiefer in den Buddhism us einzudringen, mufi der Benutzer
z.B. Stalks in Array Sutra oder Hearer's Level unter den "Primary Sources, A
Buddhist Scriptures" (Seite 204-215) in der "Bibliography" aufsuchen, wenn
er die urspriinglichen Titel Ganda-vyuhasutra/ Sdoh po bkod pa'i mdo oder
Sravakabhumi/Nan thos kyi sa nicht aus der Wiedergabe erschlieften kann.
Der "Index" (Seite 221-226) bietet keine Hilfe, wenn man von den tibetischen
oder Sanskrit-Titeln ausgehend deren Cbersetzung durch R. Sherburne
auffinden will, erenthalt die englischen Formen. Auch das "Glossary" (Seite
192-203) hilft bei den Titeln nicht weiter; es erklart neben allgemein iiblichen
Sanskritbegriffen und einigen Sanskrit-Namen die in die Cbersetzung auf-
genommenen Wiedergaben buddhistischer Termini.
Die Cbersetzung der BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd wird in zwei Hauptstiicke
"Vehicle of the Perfections" (Seite 23-161) und "Vehicle of Mysticism" (Seite
165-187) und das erstere noch in Teile ("Parts") und Kapitel untergliedert;
jedem Kapitel ist eine schematische Cbersicht iiber dessen Aufbau vor-
angestellt. Diese Unterteilung ist weitgehend aus Zwischenkolophonen im
tibetischen Text abgeleitet. Jedoch nan thos kyi theg pa'i skabs rdzogs so
(Folio 304b2), "This completes the section on the Hearer's Vehicle" (Seite 80),
wird nicht genutzt, um ein Hauptstiick "Sravakayana" abzusetzen; der Grund
hierzu ist nicht ersichtlich, in der Dissertation hingegen erscheint zu der
betreffenden Stelle (Seite 250, Anm. 132) der lapidare Hinweis: "This section
conclusion has been inserted by a later editor and is not one of the original
main topic headings Atisa gives; see Dedication and Theme . . ." Folgt man
nun diesem Verweis und sucht die C bersetzung von Folio 279b3-5 auf, also die
Bestimmung des Themas der BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd, findet man in dem
Buch auf Seite 20 eine Gliederung in fiinf mit Groftbuchstaben bezeichnete
Punkte, auf die aber spater nicht Bezug genommen wird. Die Cbersetzung des
Themas ist ungenau, vom tibetischen Text werden namlich nicht fiinf
Hauptpunkte genannt, sondern deren drei, wobei der erste wiederum unter-
gliedert ist. Aufgrund dieses Miftverstandnisses konnte R. Sherburne die
Probleme, die sich aus den divergierenden Gliederungshinweisen in der
BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd ergeben, nicht erfassen.
Schon beim ersten Durchblattern fallen kleinere redaktionelle Mangel des
Buches auf, hier sind zuerst die Unterschiede zwischen dem Haupttitel und
dem Umschlagtitel der Paperback-Ausgabe oder auch der Kolumnentitel auf
Seite 17 und 19 "Commentary on the Difficult Points" statt "Dedication and
Theme" zu nenne. Ein sehr unschoner Fehler, der sich nur aus nachlassiger
Redaktion ergeben haben kann, ist auf Seite 11 geschehen: In der Cbersetzung
des BodhipathapradTpa erscheinen als Strophe 57 vier Zeilen, und zwar nach
der Prosaeinleitung fur das Zitat (Zeile 228a) nur drei Verszeilen (Zeile 229-230
und 232); es miifken aber insgesamt fiinf Zeilen sein, da eine voile vierzeilige
Strophe zitiert wird. Auf Seite 147 werden nun in der Cbersetzung von Folio
327b3 der BodhimdrgadTpapanjikd, wo nur die Prosaeinleitung von Strophe
56 (Zeile 224a) mit dem Vermerk zes pa la sogs pa, "und so weiter", steht, die
Strophen 56, 57 und 58 aus dem BodhipathapradTpa angefiihrt. Und zu
Strophe 57 findet sich am Fuft der Seite die durch ein Sternchen bezeichnete
Anmerkung: "Atisa has apparently abbreviated the root text. Seep. 11." Die
auf Seite 11 in der Cbersetzung fehlende Verszeile 231, rnam rtog bgrod dka'
mams 'das te, die R. Sherburne auf Seite 147 mit "And transcends the arduous
trails of such thought," wiedergibt, wird von ihm in der Dissertation in der
Cbersetzung des Grundtextes (Seite 45) widergegeben und im Abdruck des
BodhipathapradTpa (Seite 487) im Wortlaut mitgeteilt.
Die Veroffentlichung einer ersten Cbersetzung der BodhimargadTpapahjika
hat diesen umfassenden und fur die Buddhismuskunde so bedeutsamen Text
einem weiten Publikum verfiigbar gemacht. Besonderen Nutzen werden aus
diesem Buch aber nur diejenigen ziehen konnen, die iiber Kenntnis des
Tibetischen verfiigen und sich in die Fragen der buddhistischen Religion
eingearbeitet haben; denn nur sie konnen merken, ob die Wiedergabe des
Textes der tibetischen Fassungentspricht, und den wertvollen Nachweisen der
Quellen von kanonischen Zitaten nachgehen.
Helmut Eimer
Ernst Steinkellner and Helmut Tauscher (eds.), Contributions on Tibetan
Language, History and Culture. Proceedings of the Csoma de Koros Symposium Held at Velm-Vienna, Austria, 13-19September 1981 ( Wiener Studien
zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde, Heft 10-11, Wien, 1983) 2 vols.,
xvii + 455 pp. + 18 plates; x + 332 pp.
The two volumes containing the papers presented at the Velm Symposium
reflect the impressive present-day range and quality of Tibetan studies. The
first volume consists of papers which might be classified as "general
Tibetology," while the second volume mainly consists of papers which deal
with various aspects of religion and philosophy and which fully justify the
assertion of the editors that "the originality of the Tibetan masters goes well
beyond their fascinating achievements in Buddhist exegesis only" (I, xvii).
In a short review it is impossible to deal with each article, and unfair to
single out a few contributions for special mention while passing the remainder
by in silence. I will therefore limit myself to presenting the major themes and
subjects dealt with, giving only brief references to the relevant contributions.
The basic discipline of linguistics is well represented: R. A. Miller writes on
"Thon mi Sambhota and his grammatical treatises reconsidered," and not less
than three papers deal with the modern Amdo dialect (G. Kara, Thubten J.
Norbu, and A. Rona Tas). B. Shefts Chang and Kun Chang write on "Tense
and aspect in spoken Tibetan," NgawangthondupNarkyidon "The origin of
the Tibetan script," and Wang Yao on the development of tones in Tibetan.
Useful lexical articles are provided by R. E. Emmerick and J. Karsten. P.
Klafkowski's study of the history of Tibetan Bible translations must also be
mentioned here.
Another field in which considerable progress has been made in recent years
is the study of early Tibetan history. Notable contributions are included by C.
I. Beckwith, FangKuei Li, and J. Szerb. Later Tibetan history isdealt with by
E. Sperling.
Literary history and analysis of written sources are the subject of articles by
H. Eimer, D. Schuh, and H. Uebach. The history of Tibetan studies in the West
is dealt with by E. Csetri (Csoma de Koros) and A. Pinsker (Johann Grueber),
Tibetan medicine is discussed by E. Finckh, and Tibetan musicology by M.
F. A. Bischoff ("Die Wu T'ai Shan Darstellung von 1846") and J. L.
Panglung ("Die Cberreste des Klosters 5Jar ma in Ladakh") write on art and
architecture. Social anthropology is represented by G. E. Clarke ("The Great
and Little Traditions in the study of Yolmo, Nepal"). P. Klafkowski's article
on the literature of the Lepchas and J. Karsten's article on the Lhasa New Year
celebrations may also be included here.
A few articles focus on other Central Asian peoples (H. Stang on the naming
of Cinggis and Wang Yao on the emperor Kung-ti of the Sung dynasty).
Finally, G. Uray's study of Tibet's connections with Nestorianism and
Manicheism  in  the eighth  to  the  tenth centuries  provides  a  thorough
presentation and evaluation of a question of great importance for the early
cultural and religious history of Tibet.
The second volume has been edited with the conviction that "Alongside of
the traditionally established divisions of tibetological research it is the new
presence of the study of the theoretical efforts and traditions within Tibetan
religions and philosophy which we are tempted to note as a distinguishing
feature of the Symposium at Velm-Vienna." Thus, the volume contains several
articles dealing with the philosophy and literature of the Madhyamika school
(S. Diets, M. Kalff, Ch. Lindtner, K. Mimaki, O. H. Pindt, D. Seyfort Ruegg,
M. Sato, H. Tauscher)as well as other aspects of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy
(L. S. Kawamura, L. Schmithausen, E. Steinkellner, J. Takasaki, T. Tille-
mans, and P. M. Williams). Discussions of central problems in the native
Tibetan hermeneutical tradition are provided by M. Broido and N. Katz.
Religious history in the strict sense of the term is dealt with by E. De Rossi-
Filibeck and S. G. Karmay. Finally, Achok Rimpoche presents a Buddhist
message of universal relevance: "The importance of love and compassion in
While not entirely absent, reminders that Tibetan culture and religion are
also a part of the contemporary world are relatively few and far between in
these volumes. Obviously, a scholarly gathering is not an appropriate context
for what might easily become a political and ideological confrontation. Still,
perhaps all of us who are engaged in Tibetan studies might consider whether
our scholarly efforts might not in one way or another more specifically involve
the realities which form the premises today of Tibetan civilization—both
outside and inside Tibet.
This having been said, I hasten to add that the two volumes of the Velm
Symposium augur well for the future of Tibetan studies, and should be
acquired by anyone interested in the trends and interests of present-day
Per Kvaerne
Universitet i Oslo


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