Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Review of Jokhang: Tibet’s Most Sacred Buddhist Temple, by Gyurme Dorje, Tashi Tsering, Heather Stoddard, and André Alexander
Cameron David Warner, Aarhus University
JIATS, no. 6 (December 2011), THL #T5722, pp. 451-466
Section 6 of 7 (p. 9)

General Miscellaneous Issues

Jokhang contains an incredible collection of rare photographs on the life in and around the temple, but the text of the book almost never addresses the photographs themselves. They hover as a discordant message around the periphery of the written text, but probably deserved their own chapter. A striking example is Catriona Bass’ photographs of the 1986 Great Prayer Festival, which are interspersed with 1943 film stills of the Great Prayer Festival from James Guthrie and Tsieu-lien Shen (178-91). At first the images seem to denote a message about the Great Prayer Festival not contained in the text, a message of great interest to scholars of Tibetan ritual and the arts. And yet together, the text and images also seem to have a connoted message that supports Stoddard’s thesis regarding the fundamentally nationalistic character of the Great Prayer Festival, since the informed reader brings with her the knowledge that the Great Prayer Festival has only been performed a handful of times since the Communist take-over of Tibet in 1951.

Jokhang is marred with editorial errors such a left-over note in the middle of the text, “(RTF bookmark start:)” (210). Close readers should also be warned that the notes to Stoddard’s chapter are numbered incorrectly beginning at endnote 17. Where the reader sees endnote 17 in the main body of the text, one should read endnote 18 and so on until endnote 99, which does not have a note. Endnote 17 actually refers to the previous paragraph in the main body of the text.

Lastly, this reader would have liked to have seen one of the authors shed light on the inscriptions in the Rasa TrülnangRa sa ’phrul snang, many of which are never accounted for in the known catalogues of the temple. For example, in the summer of 2010 I had the fortune to briefly examine a two-meter-high, 1.75-meter-wide, east-facing, Chinese-language stone pillar immediately behind the west-facing Maitreya attributed to BarzhiwaBar gzhis ba on the ground floor. According to Tsering GyelTshe ring rgyal of the Tibetan Archives, this is likely a Ming dynasty stone tablet known locally as the Yangyin Inscription. It might be a mortuary tablet installed by a Chinese general of the Ming dynasty to commemorate his troops who had died on the plateau. Additionally, the gilded victory banners on the roof over the west-facing entrance have small inscriptions. Though the current banners replace those destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, like the unknown words inscribed on the golden butter-lamps in front of the JowoJo bo, an analysis of the donative inscriptions in the LhasaLha sa Temple would serve to demonstrate the continued vitality of temple as the focus of Buddhist practice in LhasaLha sa.

Note Citation for Page

Cameron David Warner, “Review of Jokhang: Tibet’s Most Sacred Buddhist Temple, by Gyurme Dorje, Tashi Tsering, Heather Stoddard, and André Alexander,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): , http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5722 (accessed ).

Note Citation for Whole Review

Cameron David Warner, “Review of Jokhang: Tibet’s Most Sacred Buddhist Temple, by Gyurme Dorje, Tashi Tsering, Heather Stoddard, and André Alexander,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 451-466, http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5722 (accessed ).

Bibliography Citation

Warner, Cameron David. “Review of Jokhang: Tibet’s Most Sacred Buddhist Temple, by Gyurme Dorje, Tashi Tsering, Heather Stoddard, and André Alexander.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 451-466. http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5722 (accessed ).