Transition of an Ancient Myth into a Nationalist Motif: Tracing and ‘Problematizing’ the Evolution of King Gesar Epic
Priyanka Chakraborty is currently pursuing her Ph.D at Banaras Hindu University, with research interests including Tibetan identity and culture in and outside Tibet, with primary focus on Tibetan fictions, memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, folk culture, and ethnicity and identity in postcolonial minority societies.
The epic of King Gesar of Ling is the longest and last living epic of the world, with more than one million verses. This prosimetrical epic is performed through a mixture of chants, stories and songs; by inspired or possessed bards called 'babs sgrung’. The retrieval of this epic literature became important for both the governments; China and Tibetan Government in Exile, since 1959. While China looked at it as a nation building tool to propagate the ideals of cultural integrity; the exiled Tibetans took refuge in Gesar to reinforce the existence of a unique Tibetan culture and preserve the essence of Tibetan ethnicity. Thus, the praxes of using the epic as a political tool of identity formation of these two imagined national communities; i.e. New China and Tibetan in Exile in a way relegates the significance of the epic as a subject.
The paper would attempt to study the inextricable relationship of Gesar with Tibetan civilization. The ancient legends of Gesar metamorphosed into epical hero, is rhetorical to the evolution of Tibetan sub-ethnic societies into Tibetan Nation state. Therefore it divulges immense insight on the shift in the power structure/hegemony throughout the history. This paper aims to ‘problematize’ the trend of utilization and appropriation of the oral epic by various political agencies to establish their ideology and its impact on the epic as a subject. The tussle between China and Exiled nationalists over Gesar in the contemporary era allows us to scrutinise the subject from various theoretical perspectives as well. Lastly, it throws light on the symbiotic relationship literature has with society and their mutually, ever evolving nature in the purview of Gesar and Tibet.
Keywords- Oral Epic, King Gesar, Tibet, China, Buddhism.
The study of folklore and folk-epic plays a pivotal role in framing the cultural consciousness of a country/ community. It becomes more viable for communities in distress where national/ ethnic identity becomes the centre of survival. The shifting socio-political paradigms paved the way for revisiting the old prototypes and adapting them. Bauman and Briggs explore that these “models of textualization appear to be productive, when their conventions, basic contents and networks of interpretation are related to the emerging trends of thought or dominant ideological concepts” (Bauman and Briggs,76). These models are often employed by cultural activists to stimulate a common idealistic fervour.
This paper attempts to study the pan-Tibetan epic of King Gesar of Ling [i] (Gling rje Gesar rgyal povi mam tar)and its inextricable relationship with Tibetan civilization. Sincethe legends of Gesar are one of the ancient myths of Tibet; they have witnessed the changing course of Tibetan society and have been appropriated accordingly. Therefore, the development of Gesar; from myths to legends and then into fully grown epic is a sinuous journey. Thus the paper intends to analysethis metamorphosis, most seminally the appropriation/exploitation of the oral epic by various political agencies to establish themselves as the dominant ideology. It discusses the symbiotic relation literature has with society; and how it works in the purview of Gesar and Tibet.
The oral epic, being multi-vocal is a pool of various historical, eschatological and mythological heritages of the civilizations of Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, Indian Subcontinent and even Asia Minor. Various versions and adaptations of this oral epic are found in regions of Mongolia, China, Buryatia (Russia), Ladakh ,Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and among some tribeslikeTurkish and Tunghus. In most of its oral and literary forms; the influence of Tibetan culture and civilization could be found in abundance. Jiagbian argues that the origin of the epic is rooted in ethnic and folk culture. He writes that prior to the formation of the epic per say, in Tibet already existed
a corpus of stories that described the formation of the heaven and the earth, their ethnic origins, and ethnic heroes; these storiesprovided a foundation for creating the character Gesar, also known as Sgrung in early history. After further polishing by the oral poets, especiallythe ballad singers, Gesar became a great epic. (Jiangbian, 51).
Therefore, looking at the various versions of the epic present throughout the central Asian mainland,it can be argued that though the myth structure is same; the episodes filling these structures, i.e. ‘mini-myths’ vary with tribe and community.
The epic of King Gesarof Ling is the World’s longest and last living epic with more than one million verses. The epic is performed through a mixture of chanting, story-telling and songs after a lengthy invocation of the Gesar spirit by professional bards and inspired bards or 'babssgrung’. They perform it after a visionary inspiration, possession of spirit or from memory.
After the gods had been pleased, the drungpas began... As the embers faded Lhasang heard the whispers rippling through the audience. Those closer to the arena swore they saw hoof marks appear in the barley-tsampa powder as Gesar’s ghost joined them (Barua, 4)
This epic begins with the chapter IHa-gling [ii]. However, neither the bards who sing nor those who transmit it orally are bound to follow this order. Depending on the region; the bards decide which episode to singas the popularity of episodes is region specific.
Early scholars of Gesar Study demythicized Gesar and in the processsome linked him with Mongolian Chengiz Khan, while others argued over his connection withJulius Caesar. A few Europeans along with some Chinese scholars, even tried to trace him along the“historical memory” of the Tubo wars and the the Tubo legends like “The Wedding of thePrincess Wencheng” [iii]. However,it was Rein S who, following the footsteps of Alexandra David-Neel and her colleagueLama Yongden’s The Superhuman Life of Gesar ofLing [iv] gave momentum to the search of Gesar epic and to a certain extent changed the direction of Gesar studies by throwing light on its literary elements. Finally, it was Huang Jingtao, who urged the scholars of different disciplines to collaborate and cooperate in restoring the epic and study it from all possible perspectives, striving to demythologize the epic.
With time, it has become more difficult to differentiate between logos and mythos. Therefore, what is handed down to us is a kind of mythistory, where history is the continuation of myths. These myths and mythical structures of history follow a pattern with some binaries: the protagonist, a heroic ancestor and the monstrous/ demonic antagonists; the golden age of peace and prosperity v/s the dark age of magic and trickery and defeats and victories among others [v]. Similarly the actions which are like episodes recur at certain intervals and are similar in almost every society [vi]. The recurrent reactions of human beings towards these recurring events/ situations create stimuli of the same order, repeated over the ages, resultingeneralization of such images.Furthermore, the mythical age is neither singular nor specific; but is more of a continuous interaction of myth and reality where the past and present freely interplay, as Zumthor describes “a perpetually recreated song of truth” (Zumthor, 84). Alai’s Gesar starts with “It was the time...”, which is essentially an appropriation of ‘once upon a time’ concept. This time doesn’t refer to a historical timeline, but to an event in the eternal time that occurs always and everywhere.In such primitive societies, Deleuze argues that history exists in co-existing lines which diverges into a series of becoming. Thus plucking out one thread to understand the structure is impossible. One needsto see all the layers and study the intricate model of history blended with myth. The King Gesarbelongs to a mythical age and a mythical country called Ling. Various scholars tried to locate the existence of historical Gesar and his Ling origin, but apart from some close metaphorical resemblance,which will be further discussed; nothing concrete could be established.“There may have been a historical Ge-sar, who perhaps lived in East Tibet in the eleventh century, just as there may have been a historical King Arthur” (Penny, 179).
Scholars generally trace the genealogy of Gesar in Kham folklore,since the tradition is mostly developed and living in this region. “Often, two or more Khams-pa men will gather together to read and sing from the epic from one of the published texts” (Penny 178), writes Samuel in his essay, “The Epic and Nationalism in Tibet”. The similarity in the social structure of Ling and Kham along with the abundance of East Tibetan religious symbolism in Gesar hints towards its Kham origin: “It was called Gling, which is present-day Khampapa...the Gling of the past is now part of the immense land named Khampapa.” (Alai, 3) A number of higher class families (rus pa) from the Kham regionbridge the temporal depth, as they believe themselves to be of Gesar’s lineage. In the epic, Gesar has no direct descendent, thus people consider his warriors, half-brothers or concubines referred to as ‘cooks’ (ja ma) as their great ancestors. This trend of historicization of Gesar myth was initiated by aking of Lingtsang [vii], who proclaimed himself as the descendent of Gesar’s half-brother; thus attempting to bridge the gap through which history becomes a continuation of myths. .
However, this doesn’t make Gesar less acceptable to other tribes. People all over the Tibetan Plateau, ( Amdo, U-Tsang) and even of adjacent areas (Mongols, Ladakhis etc) tend to associate them with Gesar.They don’t identify themselves with the Khampas [viii] but connect with the ideals of this hero, as their own.This is because of the universal nature of myth, particularly heroic myth in this regard. Lord Raglan in his The Hero: A Study in Tradition Myth and Drama(1936) delineates the twenty two steps to show the journey of a hero from birth to death. Gesar as an epic hero travels through most of these steps during his earthly life.Heroic myth illustrates that a heroic personality can only be forged through struggle, suffering and sacrifice. The triumphs and defeats of the hero symbolise human confrontations with one’s own fears and determines the paradigms of one’s strength and courage. This makes the hero relatable to all and the repetitions of these archetypal events valorise human’s own existence, which results in the perpetuation of the ‘sacred-profane dichotomy’.
Thosba Gawa (Thos-pa-dg), the son of God, descends from the heaven to save the subjects of Ling from evil :(Supreme deity said) “Your heart goes out for them, well said. Now, if I were to send you down to rid the people of their demons and save them from suffering, would you go?”(Alai, 23) His birth, an auspicious event is preceded by dreams, visions and prophecies. Master Lotus asks ThangtongGyalpo to spread the news “..I must ask you to tell the people of Gling that the son of deities will soon be born” (Alai, 28), which is followed by a dream, seen by a chieftain of Glings’s one of the oldest tribes“the steward’s older brother Senglon appeared in his dream, holding a vast umbrella.” (Alai, 29)Like other epics, Gesar also has abundant hierophantic and theophantic episodes. Master Gyalpo then appears in Gling to describe the dream and confirms the coming of God’s messenger.He is born to the terrestrial family of Seng-blon. So he has two fathers; one heavenly and another earthly, some versions even mention the presence of a gyan as fatherly spirit of Gesar. Heroic mothers are often virgins in Christian mythology, if not exactly so in this case as well they must belong to noble families: “Senglon was kind and generous, suitable to become the father of the son of the deities... if the father was from Mu clan, then the mother must be from Noble Dragon clan [ix]”(Alai, 37)
Thosbo Gawa was born ‘under the protection of Heaven’ and the baby was ‘the height and weight of three year- old’. Even as an infant, he performed deeds of valour. As a result his power hungry, jealous uncle Khrothung, the head of Tagrong tribe, first in the step of succession banished Gesar and his mother Gobza toYulung Kulha Sumdo (rMa-smad g.yu-lung sum-mdo).Through sufferance and with courage Gesar emerges as a true hero. At the age of twelve, Gesar who was then called as Joru, wins a horse race, organised by the supreme clans of Ling. This victory brought him the throne of Ling along with the hand of Brug-mo. After this, joined by mystic horse, Kyang-göd and armed in celestial weapons, he embarks on his expeditions of destroying evil forces. His major campaigns include four campaigns in four cardinal directions: the old demon Klu-btsan, living in the north of Ling; Ling’s greatest enemy Gur dKar (ur-dkar-rgyal-po), the king of Hor, in West. The other two of these “four enemies in four directions” are King Sa Dam of ’Jang (in the East) and King Shing Khri of Mon (in the south). There are references of various other episodic journeys of Gesar throughout his life, which greatly varies from one version to another. Finally around the age of eighty he returns to Heaven [x] after crowning his nephew Gyatsa Zhakar (dGra-lhartse-rgyal), the king of Ling.
Spring thunder rumbled as the gates of Heaven opened to reveal Gesar’s celestial parents and ten thousand deities gathered to welcome home their son, Thosba Gawa... Gesar walked slowly towards the path that had opened to the heavens (Alai, 392).
Gesar in his earthly life, is human like others yet he is an outsider to the community. His courage, will and achievements make him different. He is often seen meditating in solitude, until he is approached by one of his ‘protector’ deities, his father Tshangs Pa (Tshangs-pa dkar-po) [xi]’ or aunt Manene. They remind him of his mission on Earth and guide him through the upcoming task. He accordingly informs his subjects of the assigned duty and sets out on the mission along with his army. Sometimes he defeats with violence, while at other instances he uses trickery to expose the weakness of his enemy in order to defeat him. Next, at the accomplishment of the task like a benevolent hero he guides the enemy’s soul the heaven, as manifest in Tibetan Buddhism. These protector deities are human conscience which guide us through the journeys of our lives and stop us from getting misguided. The demons are the evils lurking everywhere whom we must fight. Gesar unveils the different methods of dealing with various kinds of evils. While he defeats the physical evils through violence, he uses trickery to conquer psychological ones, one that resides within human heart. Lastly, he epitomises the belief of staying true to his/her beliefs and forgive others for the peaceful functioning of the society. Through these Gesar, the epic hero is successful in establishing Mircea Eliade’s myth feat where the celestial beings – the Supreme deity, manifold Buddhas and other protector spirits create natural phenomena; and the cultural hero, Gesar social phenomena.
Literature which is essentially discursive in nature subsumes the religious and cultural elements as invincible parts behind its very constitution. This definition of literature is congruous with the characteristics of epic poetry as epics are characterised by the free intervention of celestial and infernal beings; and their involvement in the usual life of humans. Thus epics are highly indebted to the mythology of the society, it originated from. The cases of oral epics are further intriguing, as they continue to survive and their evolution with time turns them into the bearer of the societal changes. The religious odyssey of Gesar would further unravel multiple nuances of the power correlation between religion and society. Initially, Gesar might have originated as a myth in the folk legends of a particular tribe, depicting their valour and heroic qualities, and thus glorifying the tribesmen. The universal nature helped in its circulation among other tribes and gradually, Gesar emerged as a common hero. With popularity the secular nature of the legend faded away; and it was moulded into a Bon subject with the incorporation of Bon mythology, rituals and symbols. Afterwards, it was sanctified into Buddhism and Gesar was established as an incarnation of Padmasambhava. The character Gesar has undergone the very process of assimilation within the Buddhist pantheon and the legend became a story of Buddhist compassion. However, the modern re-invention of Gesar bifurcate its literary rendition; the Chinese nationalists projected it as a secular literature and the Tibetan Nationalists used it to reinforce the ethnic uniqueness of Tibetan race.
This politics of infusing religious meanings and motifs in myths is one of the basic tools of religion as an institution. Rather than introducing a new ideology, it seems an easier for semi-accomplished work to slowly modify and adapt the existing legends, interpolating religious connotations within them. This enabled religion to place itself as one of the dominant factors in the existing power structure/hierarchy. Gesar legends existed long before Buddhism entered Tibet. Therefore though it contains various Buddhist archetypes, one can’t ignore the pre-Buddhist motifs and symbols. Since Tibetan Buddhism adopted a number of Bon rituals, deities and beliefs, absorbing Gesar legends into Buddhism was not a problem. Rather it helped Buddhism to flourish without having faced much impediments.
This multi-vocal epic juxtaposes both Bon and Buddhist symbols and traditions, which delineate the evolution of Tibetan society. On the one hand, Gesar is regarded as the reincarnation of Padmasambhava, since metempsychosis is a common belief in Tibetan Buddhism; the other shows the abundance of pre-Buddhist mountain deities in the narrative of Gesar. Gesar’s aunt, the sister deity Manene (A nedgung sman rgyalmo) is similar to the primordial female deity of pagan origin associated with the smoke-purification rite, sang (bsang) of Bon tradition. The notable presence of warrior spirits like drala (dgrabla/sgrabla/dgralha) and werma (wer ma), which have no progenitor in Buddhist tradition, are essentially Bon spirits. Furthermore, Geser’s parentage witnesses a blend of heavenly father and mother, terrestrial father and a subterranean mother- the presence of a three tired world. Gesar's father ‘Tshangs-pa dkar-po’ and his mother, 'Bum-skyong’ belongs to lha,gods of the sky. Apart from the terrestrial father Seng-blon, Gesar has another father Ger-mdzo-this is a gnyan, a mountain dwelling divinity; and mother Gob-za. This, trichotomized cosmos is exemplary of eastern Tibetan belief system.
The sanctification of Gesar came in the hands of a Nyingmapa monk, Gyurmé Thubten Jamyang Drakpa (Gyur med Thubbrtan ’jam dbyangsgragspa) who made xylographs of Gesar epic. This text, called Lingtsang Xylograph confers a celebrated position to Padmasambhava which helped Gesar to ascend the throne of a proper Buddhist deity with elaborate rituals of its own. Similarly, it helped Tibetan Buddhism to entirely absorb Gesar. Gesar is now considered as one of the four main ancestral sovereign of Shambhala, a quintessential Tibetan warrior; one who took birth in the terrestrial world as a Buddhist warrior king to destroy the devils, the enemies of Dharma [xii]. He is the ancestral spirit of the Mukpo clan and its protector. He is worshipped as Gesar Dorje Tseyal “the Vajra Lord of Life” [xiii] Even in the Vajrayana tradition, Gesar is considered as a deity and hence propitiated as a major deity of Tibetan Buddhist pantheon [xiv].
The Gesar as an epic can be distinguished for its open structure, while having a capitalized central subject. Its prosimetric [xv] narrative style which is an amalgamation of prose and verse is typically Tibetan in form. People happened to relish this and passed it down to generations. The epic is so designed to fulfil the wish of common people as they wanted to see themselves. Therefore, the Gesar prototype convened people across the tribe to feel one and Gesar emerged as a national hero, relatable by all. As Writer Joseph Campbell said that all cultures are based on myths: "What these myths have given has been inspiration for aspiration."(Campbell, 157) The self-designated, shared belief in this hero created an intangible space of commonality. Lauri Honko [xvi], here rightly argued that the birth of an epic indicated not only the emergence of literature, but also the emergence of nation. The evolution of Gesar through centuries is entangled with Tibetan consciousness. Thus with Gesar developed a feeling of oneness.
The Tibetan societies, kingdoms and politics took various shape and form at various points of history, and there never existed a politically united Tibet. McGranahanaptly describes the Tibetan concept of border which did not confirm the Western/European standards and was in a sense a ‘non-modern fluid statehood’. In such a scenario, what fused them together was the shared consciousness backed up by the institution of religion. Therefore, with the change in political structure of Tibet, this national hero became a tool of state ideologies.
The retrieval of this epic after 1959, became important for both the governments; China and Tibetan Government in Exile. While China looked at it as a nation building tool to reinforce the ideals of cultural integrity; the exiled Tibetans took refuge in Gesar to keep the essence of Tibetan socio-ethnic uniqueness alive. For New China, Gesar seemed a politically neutral “folkloristic” topic, a romance saga of pure heroism; hence its research was highly promoted. While detaching its associations with Buddhism China concentrated on establishing Gesar as the hero, who fought for the welfare of Tibetans against the oppressive rules of demon kings. In a similar vein, China liberated Tibetans from the regressive Lamaist Rule.
When on the one hand, Tibetan religio-cultural life was suppressed and literature was destroyed through the destruction of monasteries, which were the store house of Tibetan ethnic knowledge; the allocation of huge funds for Gesar epic on the other hand couldn’t be accepted as an only literary endeavour. The complex political ideology of cultural assimilation was hard to dispense with and it became a safe topic to explore under the art guideline of “All in the interest of the labouring masses, all for the purpose of serving the people”(Lianrong, 323).In either side of the Indo-Tibetan border, two governments endeavoured to make two imagined communities. While China sought to bring various mongoloid tribes under the banner of one nation with blatant homogenisation, Tibetan exiled people marred the sub-ethnic consciousness to project the unified national Tibetan voice. In Exile Community, through Gesar, a nationalist discourse has been formed under the guidelines of modern nation space. The quintessential European nation-state concept of nationality based on language was applied. Gesar has been projected as the ultimate warrior symbol of Tibetans, to rekindle the Tibetan uniqueness and strengthen the unity. Since it effectively reflects the soul of the nation; it helped to bring back the memory of how the warriors of Dharma destroy the evil. They developed this mythical hero “to reflect the supposedly unique national character of the nation which they represent” (Wilson, 154)
This ideological struggle between Chinese and Exiled Tibetans concerning Gesar, turns it into an apt subject of Watchel’s Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation;(1998), where on the respective sides; it is employed to destroy and create Tibetan socio-cultural heritage. In this course of political appropriation of Gesar in the race of power assertion, the epic as the subject is marginalised. Its literary and ethical values were drastically denigrated and it was reduced to a mere propagandist tool. Gesar in Partha Chatterjee’s terms is interpellated by the political institutions, thereby losing its own ethical and literary values and reduced to mere political propagandas. The process of co-option of Gesar under the facade of homogenous Nationalism marred its innate ethnic manoeuvre. Appropriation of Gesar and its inclusion into mainstream Chinese literature hallmarked Tibet as an integral part of China. The same moderation in exile helped to create the pan-Tibetan identity, surpassing Gesar’s Kham identity.
Any dominant ideology, validated by nationalism needs a mass for its affirmation. In this very process; the ethnicity of Gesar is quite tarnished, though it gains popularity and in turn opens newer arenas of discourse on Tibetan life, society and practices. It also provides a platform to debate and discuss those aspects, which the Chinese government tried to suppress and even made attempts to legitimise and appropriate the Tibetan society. The result is seen in Alai’s The Song of King Gesar: A Novel (2009). Alai not only collocate Gesar with contemporary world through the narrator, but also infused ample Buddhist motifs throughout the text. Thereby, co-placing the pagan and Buddhist symbols together, he indicated the existence of heterogeneous Tibetan society. Added to this, since all these contemporary works on Gesar are politically motivated, i.e, the subject is formed from a space of ideological conflict, it is rhetorical to Jameson’s idea of national allegory. While Aijaz Ahmed in his counter essay questions the west for homogenising and stereotyping the third world; the development of Gesar by Chinese and Tibetans reflects how they themselves are playing active role in this romanticization. In both the spaces, Gesar is exotically idealised to enhance the formation of the imagined community, each is trying to establish. Gesar becomes the allegorical literature of a third world nation state, which metaphorically valorises the pseudo-pride of the particular ethnicity.
The epic of King Gesar which exemplifies the age old history of Tibetan civilization acts as a transmitting agent of ethno-nationalist cause. It helps to represent the relationship between literature and nationalism, which is intrinsically symbiotic in nature. The immense strength of Gesar helps to generate an ethno-nationalist movement of various Tibetan sub-ethnic communities and precipitates the formation of nation-states. The journey of Gesar from a folkhero to a national hero; a pre-Buddhist mountain God to an embodiment of Buddha; and a political tool to a nationalistic sentiment divulges the evolution of Tibetan society and establishment of the shared ethnic consciousness. The contemporary appropriation and simultaneous rendition of the epic infuse deeper nuances of the ‘political’, taking it far away from the debate; centred on the history-myth interface. Gesar embodies some of those aspects of old Tibetan societies which, if not carefully preserved will perish in the process of homogenization. The essence will die; leaving behind the skeleton as a state apparatus for the constitution/dissemination of multiple ideologies.
i Various versions name the place as Ling, Gling. However in this paper I am using Gling as used by Alai.
ii See “The Theoretical Basis of the Tibetan Epic, with Reference to a 'Chronological Order' of theVarious Episodes in the Gesar Epic” by Samten G. Karmay.
iii See On Discussions of the Historical Contents of Gesar,” Huang Wenhuan(In Chinese). InA Collection of Papers on Gesar Studies, vol. 1. Ed. by JiangbianJiacuo et al. pp. 128-49. Cited in History and the Tibetan Epic Gesar by Li Lianrong, Oral Tradition, 16 (2): 317-342. 2001.
iv Originally written in French
v Ethnic Myths and Ethnic Revivals, see Anthony D. Smith 1984:292-293European Journal of Sociology.
vi The structure of Myth, see Levis Strauss
vii One of the five indepent kingdom of Kham region of Tibet, presently forms the southern part of Serxu County of People’s Republic of China
viii The natives of Kham region present are called Khampas
ix In this version his mother is MetogLhartse, daughter of Dragon king. Other versions name her Gob-za, the daughter of KlugTsug-na, an aquatic divinity of the subterranean world (klu).
x The bards (sgrung-mkhan) do not talk about Gesar's death because he 'never dies '.The dMyal-gling episode is about his 'departure from the earth '
xi In Tibetan Buddhism Tshangs-pa dkar-poor White Brahma is one of the eight fierce protection deities.
xii Nalanda Translation Comittee. 2006-2007
xiii See Tibetan Buddhism and the Gesar Epic by Solomon George FitzHerbert , Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, 2017 (sept)
xiv Samuel, Geoffrey (1991b) ‘Some Tibetan Ritual Texts about King Gesar.’ Paper for the 2nd International Conference on Gesar Epic Studies, Lhasa, Tibet, August 1991.
xv See "On the Study of the Narrative Structure of Tibetan Epic: A Record of King Gesar by Yang Enhong", Oral Tradition 16/2 (2001): 294-316
xvi Lauri Honko“The Textualization of Oral Epics” 2000
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