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Define the influence and character of the Tibetan cultural aesthetics in the Tangut Empire

Define the influence and character of the Tibetan cultural aesthetics in the Tangut Empire

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Published by: Carmen Hnt on May 05, 2012
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10/26/2013

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Define the influence and character of the Tibetan cultural aesthetics in theTangut Empire
 
SOAS Ref. No. 221618, Cultural History of Tibet, Convenor: Nathan Hill,Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of the Study of Religions
 
4/28/2010Carmen Cochior Plescanu
 
1
Define the influence and character of the Tibetan cultural aesthetics in the Tangut Empire
Ssu - ma of Yin, the author of the Shih-chi - the first of the dynastic histories of China around 100 BC- was the
first to employ the term ‘Tangut’ to denominate
the Proto-Burmese kingdom of Kansu. Great interpretations
were given to the utilization of the ‘Tangut’, as used by Marco Polo in the
thirteen century according to the
Books of the Marvels of the World 
. Whether descending from the Turkish horde as the termination
– 
ut 
mightsuggest, from the nomadic people of North Korea as Meillet and Cohen would imply as hypothesis, it is yet notclearly decided among scholars. In contrast with the Rising Sun of China,
Ssu-
ma Ch’ien
has named Kansu the
‘Great Moon Family’
,
Ta Yueh Shih
which in Old Chinese was pronounced
Da-Ngwat 
(Tangut).
1
It was in the late tenth and early eleventh century that the Tangut people (
Tib. Mi-nyang;
 
Mong. Tangyud 
)established an independent regime in the steppe region within the loop of the Yellow River, in Ordos, whichdeveloped rapidly into the
Great State of White and High
as they self-proclaimed or the empire of Xixia. Thegeographical parameters of that period, places Xixia as neighbouring the Song, Liao and Jin states to the southand east, Tibetans to the southwest and the Central Asian kingdoms in the west.
2
An imperial state wasformally defined in 1038 and its existence is presented in chronicles until the fatal crush of Chinggi
s Qan’s last
campaign, in 1227.
3
 
Although Chinggis Qan’s punitive expedition left only ten
percent of the Tangutpopulation alive, it is evident from the re-edition of Xixia Tripitaka in 3,620
 juan
, completed seventy yearsafter the fall of Xixia at the request of Kublai Khan, that their culture has not vanished immediately, but
1
 
Classical civilizations of South East Asia: an anthology of articles. Published in The Bulletin of Soas, Edited by Vladimir Braginsky,University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, Routledge 2002, p.439
 
2
 
The Great State of White and High, , Ruth W Dunnell, University of Hawaii Press 1996, p. 3
3
Ibid 2
 
2
continued through the thirteen and into the first part of the fourteen century.
4
It was in Tibet that some of theTangut royal family members took refuge in 1227, where their descendants assumed the name of Byang and
“supplied the abbots for sTod rDorje brang, a branch of great
rNying-ma-pa monastery of rDo rje brang,
founded in 1610 CE”.
5
The primary sources materials for Xixia history have greatly expanded during the past century imperialist andarchaeological preoccupation in Inner Asia, which mostly date to the twelfth century and later and which arepredominantly Buddhist in nature.
6
Because the prodigious majority of extant Tangut materials are Buddhistand products of imperial patronage
7
, it is important to understand and analyse Tibetan Buddhist influence-diplomatic, political and cultural -
on Xia state. It is worth mentioning that the Khokhonor ‘black headed andred faced’ Tibetans and the Tangut
shared ancestral, linguistic and cultural ties. These common epithetsconstantly attributed to the Tibetans are used not only in odes and poetry but in other Tangut indigenoustexts as well.
It is a great possibility that the term ‘black headed ’ which stands for the Tangut priests in the pre
-Buddhisttimes, later to have been employed to designate the Karma pa Black Hat Sect, which penetrated the Tangutstate in twelfth and thirteenth centuries as registered in Tibetan sources.
8
The presence of Karma Pakshi(Tibetan
ཀརྨ་པཀྵ་
1204
 –
1283
), second in the Kagyupa (Wylie:
bKa’ 
-brgyud-pa
) lineage of the Karmapas(Tibetan

) in a painting of 
Bhaisajayabhattaraka
collected from the Kharakhoto stupa, evidence itspowerful presence and influence within the Tangut Empire. His iconographic depiction appears distinctwearing a black hat showing a
visva-vajra
in front, having a dark complexion, his hands in
dharmacakra mudra
 (
འཀོར་ལོ
, Wylie:
chos kyi 'khor lo
)and goatee beard (his nickname being
rGya-bo
 
or ‘beardy’).
9
Similarfigures of spiritual representatives are found in early Tibetan paintings and their location in the bottom leftcorner could imply or represent the actual donor. This particular artistic image was perpetuated throughout
4
 
Early Sino-Tibetan Art, Heather Stoddard, Orchid Press Thailand 2008, p.33
5
 
Ibid 4
 6
Ibid 2
 7
Ibid 2, p.4
 8
 
Ксения Борисовна Кепинг, The Black
-headed and the Red-faced in Tangut Ingidenuous Texts, http://www.sx-ys.com
9
Ibid 4, p.16

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