UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reconciliation and legitimization : the fifth karmapa deshin shegpa's trip to ming china Qujie, Suolang


Departing from the vexed debate on the nature of the Sino-Tibetan relationship, this thesis examines the Fifth Karmapa Deshin Shegpa’s historic visit to the Chinese court in the early Ming era. By reading across Chinese and Tibetan language sources, in this thesis I reconstruct the entire trip of the Karmapa, a case of another dimension through which Tibetan Buddhism is perceived and the importance of the Tibetan hierarchs for the Ming to conduct its policy toward Tibetan Buddhism and the relation with the people of Inner Asia are illustrated. I argue that unlike those trips made by other Tibetan hierarchs, the trip of the Fifth Karmapa and his performance of Buddhist rituals were designed as a mean through which the Yongle emperor legitimized his controversial rise to power. From existing Tibetan and Chinese primary sources it becomes apparent that the Fifth Karmapa’s visit not only served to confirm and solidify the political power of the Yongle emperor through religious means but also brought tremendous financial benefits for the Karmapa and fostered the influence of his sect in Tibet and beyond.

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