An Early Tibetan Gesar sang Text
This article introduces and presents an annotated English translation of what appears to be an early, and perhaps our earliest, Tibetan Gesar bsang (purifying smoke offering) ritual text. The translation is preceded by a discussion of the association between Gesar as a “worldly deity,” and the autochthonous Tibetan rite of smoke purification, and a tentative suggestion concerning Gesar’s role in the “Buddhicisation” of the bsang rite in Eastern Tibetan popular ritual culture. The article then gives a brief exposition of the layers discernible in the text’s presentation of Gesar: as the hero of a predominantly secular orientated chivalric-shamanic folkloric tradition, and his apotheosisation as a Buddha. The article then explores the difficulties in dating and attributing the text. The attribution to Karma Pakshi is ultimately rejected, in favour of a tentative attribution to the mid-late 17th century (and to Yongs-dge mi-’gyur rdo-je in particular) which would make sense in light of what can be discerned about the evolution of the Buddhist cult of Gesar in eastern Tibet around that time.
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