The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation

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9780231168526: The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation

This is the most important book on modern Tibetan history to come out in over 40 years and is the most accessible, archives-based survey of modern Tibetan history ever to be written. -- Gray Tuttle, Leila Hadley Luce Associate Professor of Modern Tibet, Columbia University This is a timely book and fills a vacuum in the study of Tibet's history as we vex over what will happen after the passing of the current Dalai Lama. There is a universal veneration of the current Dalai Lama, yet the historical development and significance of the institution of the Dalai Lama is rarely studied. Peter Schwieger provides an excellent analysis of the evolution of the institution and particularly the Dalai Lama's relationship with the Chinese Emperors, that goes beyond the generalized and accepted view of the relationship as symbolic. To tell the story of the Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China, the author examines original Chinese and Tibetan sources to provide a remarkable and lucid historical account of the relationship between Tibet and China. -- Tsering Shakya, President of the International Association of Tibetan Studies; Profressor, University of British Columbia The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China marks a coming-of-age for Tibetan historical studies, complementing in important respects the New Qing History of the past several decades. Peter Schwieger brings new precision to our understanding of Tibet's central political institution, that of the Dalai Lama, reaching beyond earlier scholarship thanks to his innovative and thorough use of archival sources that have only recently become available. His work is essential reading for students of early modern relations among Tibet, Mongolia and the Manchu empire. -- Matthew Kapstein, EPHE, Paris, and the University of Chicago This is a wonderful book. Peter Schwieger approaches his subject with true erudition and gives readers a sober and well-researched account of the rise of the system that undergirded the perception of the Dalai Lamas as rulers of Tibet. The issue is very complex, as historically the place of the Dalai Lamas has not, in fact, always been one of uncontested political authority. Peter Schwieger provides much-needed clarity on the subject and presents the story in a refreshingly readable and engaging manner. His use of sources and documents--in multiple languages--is admirable and his demystifying approach to the subject is most welcome. There is much to discover in this rich, informative volume. Much as W.W. Rockhill's early 20th-century study of the Dalai Lamas and their relations with the Qing emperors was superseded by the pioneering mid-century monograph on Qing-Tibetan relations by Luciano Petech, so too, we now have, in Peter Schwieger's book, a further advance--and a major one at that--in understanding and interpreting the history at the heart of these previous works. Skillfully handling the new sources and documents at his disposal, Peter Schwieger has written a book that is essential reading for anyone, specialist and non-specialist, interested in the rise of the Dalai Lamas and their relations with Mongols, Manchus, and the Qing state. -- Elliot Sperling, Indiana University The system of succession by recognised reincarnation is an extraordinary politico-religious innovation that originated in Tibet in the early 13th century. After a cautious beginning, the system was adopted by all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, but came to be most closely associated with the Gelukpa school and its keystone figure: the Dalai Lama. The development of the institution, and the nature of the relationship between the Dalai Lamas on the one hand and the Mongol overlords and Chinese emperors on the other, are the subject of numerous studies, and the story is very well known; or so we thought. The existing accounts are based largely on Tibetan and Chinese historical works, as well as Tibetan biographies, but, as Peter Schwieger remarks, "Tibetan archival material speaks a different language." The originality of this remarkable book lies in the central position it accords to Tibetan documents - letters, edicts, petitions - written at the time of the events to which they relate, giving the reader an unprecedented front-row view of history as it unfolds: things do indeed look very different from this close. Schwieger's mastery of the intractable style of these official sources is matched by a well-trained caution in interpretation, a complete absence of political bias, and the ability to transform eight centuries of complex machinations into a gripping account that will appeal to a readership well beyond the field of Tibetan Studies. -- Charles Ramble, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

Reseña del editor:

A major new work in modern Tibetan history, this book follows the evolution of Tibetan Buddhism's tr lku (reincarnation) tradition from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, along with the Emperor of China's efforts to control its development. By illuminating the political aspects of the tr lku institution, Schwieger shapes a broader history of the relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China, as well as a richer understanding of the Qing Dynasty as an inner Asian empire, the modern fate of the Mongol empire, and current Sino-Tibetan relations. Unlike other pre-twentieth century Tibetan histories, this volume rejects hagiographic texts in favor of diplomatic, legal, and social sources held in the private, monastic, and bureaucratic archives of old Tibet. This approach draws a unique portrait of Tibet's rule by reincarnation while shading in peripheral tensions in the Himalayas, eastern Tibet, and China. Its perspective fully captures the extent to which the emperors of China controlled the institution of the Dalai Lamas, making a groundbreaking contribution to the past and present history of East Asia.

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