This essay provides a translation of the travelogue of the eminent Oirat Buddhist lama Sumba Kanbo Yeshe Baljor (1704–1788) as he made his way to the sacred Mount Wutai. Among the many details this candid account reveals is the fact that Buddhists from the Tibetan Plateau did not travel to the sacred mountain of Wutai in China for the sake of pilgrimage, but in order to foster established relationships with Mongol patrons along the way. Sumba Kanbo spent seven months on the road in 1774 en route to Wutai (compared with only one month at the mountain itself), and during that time he was received by Mongol nobility for whom, in exchange, he contributed to the creation of ‘surrogate’ pilgrimage sites in Mongolia and more generally to the ‘Buddicisation’ of Mongolia. Sumba Kanbo’s account provides a unique window into the emergence of Buddhism in Mongolia and the manner in which this phenomenon depended upon both the political and religious bonds formed between lamas such as Sumba Kanbo and Mongol nobility, commoners and landscape that these lamas encountered on their peregrinations.
Inner Asia – Brill
Published: Apr 16, 2018
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