The Bon Religion of Tibet: The Iconography of a Living Tradition

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9781570621864: The Bon Religion of Tibet: The Iconography of a Living Tradition
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The Bon religion claims to be the original and authentic religion of the Tibetan people, firmly established in the Land of Snows long before Buddhism was introduced in the seventh century CE. Although its adherents were gradually reduced to a minority, Bon has nevertheless continued to flourish in many areas up to the present day in Tibet, especially in the eastern and northeastern regions, where a reconstruction renaissance is taking place, as well as within the Bon community in exile from Tibet. The iconography of the Bon religion is presented through a series of thangkas, miniatures, and bronzes from public and private collections in the West, as well as from communities within Tibet. The peaceful, tutelary, protector, and local deities, as well as the Bon siddhas, lamas, and dakinis, are identified and fully described by means of excerpts from ritual or biographical texts that are translated here.

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Per Kvaerne is Director of the Institute for the Comparative Research in Human Culture, Oslo, and Professor of the History of Religions and Tibetology, University of Oslo. He has been a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters since 1976 and was Convenor of the Sixth Conference of the International Association for Tibetan Studies in 1992. Besides a particular interest in the history, literature and art of the Bon religion, his field of research is late Indian tantric Buddhism and he has published An Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs: A Study of the Caryagiti, Oslo, 1977.

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