Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

Textual and visual odds and ends from India, Tibet, and around.

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Location: Kolozsvár/Cluj, Budapest, Oxford, ibi ubi

Monday, March 02, 2009

Speaking of turtles

Turtles are the talk of town. Here is one more handbook from my collection which once helped the good people of Mongolia find their lost things with the help of the friendly local lama. Apparently Inner-Asians lost their things quite frequently and have been doing so at least since Tibetans came to Tunhuang. There are doubtless hundreds of such manuscripts in specialized libraries. And if you are a lama, it's good to know another lama with such a manuscript, since you never know when you might lose yours.

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Anonymous Sam said...

Fascinating - thanks for putting this up there. Although the body-parts are slightly different, and the results of the divination are not the same, this is clearly in the same tradition as the Dunhuang turtle. Interesting that the scribe here has just written "rus sbal" instead of drawing the turtle. I guess that's an easy shortcut for the inartistically-inclined. Do you know anything about the provenance of this manuscript, or is it one of those rather poorly documented ones sold by Mongolian dealers?


9:06 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

Unfortunately nothing is known about the provenance, except that the ms. must predate the sixties (it's probably older than that, I'd hazard a date around the turn of the century).

There are more mss. on this topic in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Oriental Collection. My learned colleague, Gergely Orosz, has just finished the second volume of the catalogue, a painstaking work of more than ten years.

As you said, 'popular religion' should be much better investigated, and the Hungarian collection is quite excellent for that. Let's hope someone someday will use it for a "Vajrayāna on the Steppes in the Early Modern Era" monograph. Your work on Dunhuang will of course be essential for such an enterprise since so much seemed to have stayed on, in or out of view. Like this turtle here :)

9:36 pm  

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