Research Focus

Central Tibetan Clan Narratives: A Contextual Study of Rlangs-lha-gzigs Genealogical Documents

The great "clans" of old – or sections thereof – played a central role in Tibetan history right from the rise of the emperors, through their later downfall, and well into the "Later Spread" of Buddhism (phyi-dar, late 10th ct. onward). Yet despite their obvious importance in the region's social history, their internal make-up, operations, as well as the reasons behind their gradual disappearance remain quite opaque to this day. This project seeks to address some of these issues by homing in on genealogical documents and other materials touching on these groups, where primary focus goes out to those texts pertaining to the Rlangs-lha-gzigs lineage, which is associated with the Phag-mo-gru ruling house that rose to dominate central Tibet in the middle of the 14th ct. Investigation of genealogical materials, their precursors, parallels, and social contexts, complemented by ethnographic fieldwork, will hopefully shed light on the development of these groups' origin narratives, as well as provide more insight into their social nature and make-up. A key question centers around the applicability of clan terminology to describe these groups.

Researcher: Reinier Langelaar

Last Update: 01.03.16