T S E R I N G S H A K Y A Modern Tibetan literature is largely unknown in the West, and has been ignored by the field of traditional Tibetan studies, which considers it of little interest. Over the past four decades, however, the Tibetan language and literary production have diverged from the usages and genres of the literature of the past, and thus there is a need to study and read it in light of the many fundamental changes that have occurred. Traditionally, Tibetan society has always been highly literate and has placed great value on literary activities and creation; part of the reason is that much of the literary production in the premodern period focused on Buddhism and was composed mainly of philosophical texts and liturgical and biographical accounts of lamas. Although there was also a body of secular texts comprising various types of histories (lo rgyus, rgyal rabs, chos 'byung), biographical literature (rnam thar), aphoristic writings (legs bshad), oral folk songs (glu gzas), bardic tales, and folk stories (sgrung gtam), Buddhism cemented all literary creativity in Tibet. Poetry (snyen ngag) dominated the secular literary tradition, inheriting both content and style from Indian Sanskrit
Manoa – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Oct 1, 2000
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