Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries and Temples
in Tibet and the Himalaya
by Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble and Marietta Kind
Edited by Samten G. Karmay and Yasuhiko Nagano
THL ID\: T5740, isbn: 4901906100 (pbk.), oclc: 52453594
Original Print Publisher:National Museum of Ethnology
Digital Reprint Publisher:Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Copyright © 2010 by Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble, and Marietta Kind
Reproduced with permission from the authors
under the THL Digital Text License.

Preface

This volume contains the results of our field research concerning Bonpo monasteries, hermitages and people in Tibet and the Himalayas, supported by the Ministry of Education, Japan.

Bon is one of the pre-Buddhist religions in Tibet. By the term 'pre-Buddhist' here I mean that it existed in Tibet before Buddhism was imported into the area and that it has survived till the present time. Although various definitions of Bon have been proposed, it could be properly said that, in Bonpo culture, we perceive something essential or basic, that has pervaded Tibetan culture from ancient times to the present day. Bon is therefore an important cultural substratum in Tibet.

Unfortunately, however, the study of Bon culture has lagged far behind that of Buddhism. This tendency is salient all over the world, especially in Japan. To improve this situation, a Bon culture research project was launched in 1996 with funding for joint research from the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan, and a subsidy from the Ministry of Education for overseas survey. Most of these funds were allocated to the development of the groundwork for research, to the field survey of the actual conditions of Bon culture, to the interim symposium and to publication of our fruits.

The development of groundwork for research includes Bonpo Canon (Kangyur and Katen texts, rare texts which are not included in Kangyur nor in Katen), iconographical materials, F. W. Thomas' research notes on Zhangzhung language kept in the British Library, and so on. An interdisciplinary symposium was held in the summer of 1999 at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, and leading scholars from wide range of fields attended it presenting papers on various topics related to Bon religion. Those who participated in doing fieldwork for the research project were also invited to attend the symposium so that they could present their findings. Most of the papers read at the symposium were published in 2000. It is my hope that the publication of papers has set a new standard in the study of Bon.

The results of field survey of the actual conditions of Bon culture are presented in this volume. The concrete and detailed descriptions of the Bonpo monasteries and people, based on extensive fieldwork, have never appeared since the beginning of Tibetology, and it is my belief that this publication will prove to be a significant milestone for future studies of Tibetan culture.

In the autumn of 1995, Dr. Samten G. Karmay and I discussed together concerning how to carry out a field research into the Bon religious establishments and drew up a questionnaire carefully. That framework is described in Dr. Samten Karmay's "Introduction". Needless to say, the history and present conditions of monasteries, temples and hermitages are included. The framework also includes the exact location of each monastery and its economic states as well as relationship to local society. Many of monasteries involved in fact do not appear on maps and, even if they do, we often find discrepancy between actual location and their names. We wished, therefore, to locate the places by GPS measurement. Actual economic states of monastery and its ties with locality and/or with lay world have keenly interested scholars, but these matters are extremely difficult for non-Bonpos to approach.

Four authors spent a lot of time and exerted themselves both academically and physically in doing fieldwork on each monastery. Many of monasteries are not easily reachable because of poor transportation; others are not constantly occupied by anyone and the authors had to make several trips to complete their fieldwork and to get information. Almost all the areas have been covered, but particular parts of the southeastern TAR are left unstudied.

The field survey of actual conditions of Bon culture was conducted in TAR, Tibetan areas in China, India and Nepal. Thanks to the positive support of China Center for Tibetan Studies, Beijing, Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, Lhasa, and Triten Norbutse Bonpo Educational Centre, Kathmandu, many valuable descriptions were collected, which were previously unknown to scholars. Without their generous consideration, this volume would never have seen the light of day.

After several rounds of editing, the descriptions included in this volume have come to be of great use for students of Tibetan culture.

I would like to offer my deepest gratitude to the Ministry of Education, Japan and the National Museum of Ethnology, my present working place, for their continued support of this project.

The following is a list of publications issued or soon to be issued under the same series as this volume (Senri Ethnological Reports):

  • Bon Studies 1
    Mandalas of the Bon Religion
    Editors: Tenzin Namdak, Musashi Tachikawa and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • Bon Studies 2
    New Horizons in Bon Studies
    Editors:Samten G. Karmay and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • Bon Studies 3
    A New Research on Zhangzhung and Related Himalayan Languages
    Editors: Yasuhiko Nagano and Randy LaPolla
  • Bon Studies 4
    A Catalogue of the New Collection of Bonpo Katen Texts
    Editors: Samten G. Karmay and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • Bon Studies 5
    A Catalogue of the New Collection of Bonpo Katen Texts --- Indices
    Editors: Samten G. Karmay and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • [Revised version of Bon Studies 4 and 5 is available in the shape of CD-ROM.]
  • Bon Studies 6
    The Call of the Blue Cuckoo
    Editors: Samten G. Karmay and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • Bon Studies 7
    The present volume
  • Bon Studies 8
    A Catalogue of the Bonpo Kangyur (tentative title)
    Editors:Per Kvaerne, Dan Martin, Namgyal Nyima, Tsering Thar, Dondrup Lhagyal, Tseyang Changgnoba, Donatella Rossi and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • Bon Studies 9
    Khyungpo Collection of Bonpo Thangkas (tentative title)
    Editors:Musashi Tachikawa, Per Kvaerne, Tenzin Namdak and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • Bon Studies 10
    A Research Notes of the Zhangzhung Language (tentative title)
    Author: F. W. Thomas
    Editors: Tsuguhito Takeuchi, B. Quessel and Yasuhiko Nagano
  • Bon Studies 11
    Amdo Rebkong Collection of Bonpo Thangkas (tentative title)
    Editors: Alag Bongya, Musashi Tachikawa and Yasuhiko Nagano

It should also be noted that Saujanya Publication, Delhi, generously offered a plan of reprint and the publisher has already reprinted Bon Studies 1. Since this series is governmental publication and its circulation is rather limited, this offer seems very helpful to accelerate Bon studies.

Finally, let me express my heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Samten G. Karmay, who has consistently been encouraging me in Bon studies and cooperating as a general editor, and to Mrs. Satoko Suzuki for her practical help.

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Note Citation for Page

Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble, and Marietta Kind, A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries and Temples in Tibet and the Himalaya (Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2003), .

Bibliographic Citation

Dondrup Lhagyal, Phuntso Tsering Sharyul, Tsering Thar, Charles Ramble, and Marietta Kind. A Survey of Bonpo Monasteries and Temples in Tibet and the Himalaya. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2003.