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The sku-bla rite in imperial Tibetan religion

Hill, Nathan W. (2015) 'The sku-bla rite in imperial Tibetan religion.' Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, 24. pp. 49-58.

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Abstract

Rolf Stein, Ariane Macdonald and other scholars regard the sku-bla as a mountain deity; however, whereas Stein sees this cult as a foreign import Macdonald regards it as central to Imperial Tibetan religion. After a re-examination of the relevant passages, I conclude that the sku-bla is not a mountain deity and that the sku-bla ceremony is no peripheral foreign borrowing into Tibet, but a central part of the ideology of sacral kingship in the Tibetan Empire. The ceremony created a bond of vassalage between the celebrant and the person of the Tibetan emperor in his role as deified ruler. This ceremony was not performed by the royal court itself, but was rather performed by vassals of the emperor. This theory not only gives account for the absence of the sku-bla from the Old Tibetan Annals (PT 1288, ITJ 750) and its presence in the Annals of Ḥaźa Principality (ITJ 1368), the Envoys of Phywa to Dmu (PT 126), the Rkoṅ-po inscription, and other Dunhuang texts such as PT 1047 and PT 2204c, but also accounts for the use of the word sku-bla in the two texts, the Shangshu paraphrase (PT 986) and the Prayers for the foundation of De ga g.yu tshal monastery (PT 16), better than the vague specter of Chinese influence invoked by Stein.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: Tibetan empire, divine kingship, sku-bla
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
Depositing User: Nathan Hill
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2016 20:13
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/22999

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