The Degraded Emperor: Theoretical Reflections on the Upstaging of a Bodhisattva King
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionRevue d’Etudes Tibétaines. 2019, 49 13-66.
Tibet’s imperial period (c. 600–850) holds a central position in many traditional Tibetan histories, especially the depiction of how the emperors of that time established Buddhism in “the land of snows” by inviting Dharma practitioners from surrounding states. These narratives less often emphasise the mundane aspects of the empire, the conquests and international diplomacy that made Tibet at this time a dominating force in Central Asia. Even the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, despite receiving a thorough monastic education in religious history, did not learn about Tibetan imperial achievements when young. Then, in 1954, he visited Xi’an, which was once the ancient western Chinese capital of Chang’an.