The Culture of the Book in Tibet

Kurtis R. Schaeffer

Columbia University Press

The Culture of the Book in Tibet

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Pub Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780231147170

264 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.95

Pub Date: July 2009

ISBN: 9780231147163

264 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.95

Pub Date: July 2009

ISBN: 9780231519182

264 Pages

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List Price: $29.99£24.95

The Culture of the Book in Tibet

Kurtis R. Schaeffer

Columbia University Press

The history of the book in Tibet involves more than literary trends and trade routes. Functioning as material, intellectual, and symbolic object, the book has been an instrumental tool in the construction of Tibetan power and authority, and its history opens a crucial window onto the cultural, intellectual, and economic life of an immensely influential Buddhist society.

Spanning the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Kurtis R. Schaeffer envisions the scholars and hermits, madmen and ministers, kings and queens who produced Tibet's massive canons. He describes how Tibetan scholars edited and printed works of religion, literature, art, and science and what this indicates about the interrelation of material and cultural practices. The Tibetan book is at once the embodiment of the Buddha's voice, a principal means of education, a source of tradition and authority, an economic product, a finely crafted aesthetic object, a medium of Buddhist written culture, and a symbol of the religion itself. Books stood at the center of debates on the role of libraries in religious institutions, the relative merits of oral and written teachings, and the economy of religion in Tibet.

A meticulous study that draws on more than 150 understudied Tibetan sources, The Culture of the Book in Tibet is the first volume to trace this singular history. Through a single object, Schaeffer accesses a greater understanding of the Tibetan plateau.
[A] brilliant study. Lauran R. Hartley, The Journal of Asian Studies
This elegant, readable work portrays the considerable traditional Tibetan enterprise of book production. Jonathan C. Gold, Religious Studies Review
This innovative and highly original exploration into the Tibetan culture of the book… is highly recommended reading for everybody interested in Tibetan Studies and cultural studies in general. Journal of the American Oriental Society
Preface
1. The Stuff of Books
2. The Editor's Texts
3. The Scholar's Dream
4. The Physician's Lament
5. The King's Canons
6. The Cost of a Priceless Book
Epilogue: The Boy Who Wrote Sūtras on the Sky
Appendix 1. Büton Rinchendrup's Letter to Editors
Appendix 2. The Contents of the Buddhist Canons
Appendix 3. The Cost of the Canon at Degé
Notes
References
Index

About the Author

Kurtis R. Schaeffer is a student of the cultural and intellectual history of Tibet. He is professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Himalayan Hermitess: The Life of a Tibetan Buddhist Nun and Dreaming the Great Brahmin: Tibetan Traditions of an Indian Buddhist Poet-Saint.