Historical Dictionary of Tibet

Overview

Tibet is a land bounded by the world’s highest mountains, and it is the repository of an ancient culture. For centuries it was viewed by Europeans as a remote, mystical place populated by Buddhist masters with supernatural powers and profound wisdom. In contrast to this image, it was once a warlike country whose expansionist rulers conquered a vast empire that incorporated much of central Asia and parts of China. Even now the Tibetan Plateau remains a scene of contestation, both ideologically and militarily. ...

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Historical Dictionary of Tibet

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Overview

Tibet is a land bounded by the world’s highest mountains, and it is the repository of an ancient culture. For centuries it was viewed by Europeans as a remote, mystical place populated by Buddhist masters with supernatural powers and profound wisdom. In contrast to this image, it was once a warlike country whose expansionist rulers conquered a vast empire that incorporated much of central Asia and parts of China. Even now the Tibetan Plateau remains a scene of contestation, both ideologically and militarily. Major popular uprisings in 1959, 1988, and 2008 have drawn the attention of the world’s media, and its religious teachers often attract large crowds when they travel overseas. The situation in the country remains highly volatile today, as the 2008 uprising—the largest and most widespread in the history of the region—attests.

The Historical Dictionary of Tibet is the most comprehensive dictionary published to date on Tibetan history. It covers the history of Tibet from 27,000 BCE to the present through a chronology, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 1,000 cross-referenced dictionary entries on important personalities, politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, culture, anthropology, and sociology. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Tibet.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Although most of us are familiar with Tibet as a nation at odds with its powerful neighbor and as the home of the Dali Lama, much of the land’s rich history and diverse culture remains hidden atop the soaring heights of the Himalayan plateau. In this comprehensive dictionary, Powers (Australian National University, Canberra ) and Templeman (Monash University, Melbourne) have given scholars of Tibetan culture and history a rich compendium for future research.The work begins with a listing of terms covered, followed by a highly useful chronology detailing the main events of Tibetan history from the life of the Buddha to the present day. A judicious 49-page introduction presents users with a lucid overview of Tibetan religious and political history as well as a synopsis of its rich, dynamic culture and spectacular geography. The A–Z arranged entries canvass a broad diversity of subjects, including geopolitical relationships, major political leaders, episodes from an expansionist past, and religious figures as well as thematic entries such as Banking and finance, Human rights, Mongolian Buddhism, and Trade. Examples of other entries include Chakrata Project, Foreign relations, Islam, and Tibetan uprising of 2008. The volume concludes with a substantial categorized bibliography for further research into such themes as Tibetan art, history, and literature. The chief obstacle to the volume’s utility lies with the Tibetan language, which, as the authors point out, presents “unusual problems.” The authors have chosen the transliteration system developed by Turrell Wylie, a system they argue “makes it difficult for beginners to pronounce terms properly” because of its equation of Sanskrit letters with the Tibetan letters they resemble. Although this hurdle is easily overcome by subject specialists, it presents a problem for those new to the subject. Nevertheless, with its diversity of topics and clear writing, the volume is essential.
Choice
Powers (Australian National Univ.) and Templeman (Monash Univ., Australia) offer a comprehensive dictionary that includes an informative introduction to the history of Tibet's land, people, religion, and politics, and a useful explanation of regional Tibetan language and the Wylie transliteration system. Also featured is an extensive chronology that begins at 27,000 BCE with the early Neolithic period and settlements in Chu bzang, and extends to April 2011, when bLo bzang seng ge was elected second bKa' blon khri pa. Readers also will find a helpful glossary of common phonetic spellings and Wylie transliteration equivalents; a listing of acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the book; and a thorough bibliography that is categorized by numerous subjects, including language and literature, the Mongol empire, and Tibetan borderlands. Black-and-white maps are at the beginning of the book, with black-and-white photographs scattered throughout. More than 1,000 brief alphabetical entries discuss the key events, people, social issues, foreign relations, and policies that make this vast country distinct. This will be a valuable resource for a variety of audiences interested in Tibet or in Asian studies or history. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
American Reference Books Annual (ARBA)
Recommended for academic and large public libraries, and those institutions serving populations with ties to that area.
CHOICE
Powers (Australian National Univ.) and Templeman (Monash Univ., Australia) offer a comprehensive dictionary that includes an informative introduction to the history of Tibet's land, people, religion, and politics, and a useful explanation of regional Tibetan language and the Wylie transliteration system. Also featured is an extensive chronology that begins at 27,000 BCE with the early Neolithic period and settlements in Chu bzang, and extends to April 2011, when bLo bzang seng ge was elected second bKa' blon khri pa. Readers also will find a helpful glossary of common phonetic spellings and Wylie transliteration equivalents; a listing of acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the book; and a thorough bibliography that is categorized by numerous subjects, including language and literature, the Mongol empire, and Tibetan borderlands. Black-and-white maps are at the beginning of the book, with black-and-white photographs scattered throughout. More than 1,000 brief alphabetical entries discuss the key events, people, social issues, foreign relations, and policies that make this vast country distinct. This will be a valuable resource for a variety of audiences interested in Tibet or in Asian studies or history. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
American Reference Books Annual
Recommended for academic and large public libraries, and those institutions serving populations with ties to that area.
Library Journal
Powers (History of Propaganda) and Templeman (New Views of Tibetan Culture) open this premier guide to Tibetan culture and history with a reader's note, indicating the book's unifying transliteration standard—the Wylie system—and presenting a glossary of phonetic spellings and Wylie equivalents. Preceded by a chronology, a 49-page introduction that is interspersed with subheadings then offers a substantial overview of Tibetan history, culture, and political tensions. Straightforward entries run several paragraphs and cover the historical figures, locations, dynasties, and events contributing to Tibet's development. VERDICT While some subject foreknowledge is required to navigate this work, it is the most thorough resource on Tibet now available.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Powers is professor of Asian Studies at Australian National University. He is the author of 16 books and more than 50 academic articles.

David Templeman is an adjunct scholar at the Monash Asia Institute at Monash University. He has more than 40 years of experience of academic study of Tibetan history, culture, and religion.

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