Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Tibetan Religious Manuscripts as Part of Humanity's Cultural Heritage: Handwritten Memoirs of a Disappearing Tradition

Dr J.F. Marc des Jardins.

Contemporary Tibet is now embarked on the road to economic, social and political development. With increasing secularization of its traditional society, mountain hermitages are slowly emptying and monasteries, although being rebuilt, no longer support the large monastic populations it used to prior to the 1950s. The nature of contemporary monastic economy encourages tourism which in turn has changed the dynamics of religious traditions and practices. The aspirations of new generations of Tibetan for ascetic life and its traditions have now changed focus. Handwritten manuscripts used in the past as precis and guidebooks for spiritual practices, are now uncared for or sold outside Tibet to collectors and tourists unaware of the treasure of information these contain. Most of these are made of handmade paper and handwritten notes. Some include paintings and diagrams, descriptions of mystical realms or yogic practices unknown outside the particular hermitage which transmitted these traditions. This paper seeks to demonstrate how these discarded treasures should be classified as part of the world's heritage and efforts should be coordinated by the worlds communities to save and preserve these unique treasures of humanity.


Dr J.F. Marc des Jardins  (Canada)
Department of Asian Studies Institute of Asian Studies
The University of British Columbia

Marc des Jardins is a specialist on the religious practices and cultures of the Sino-Tibetan Frontier. After researching the Tibetan Bonpo communities of North Sichuan (MA 1994 , McGill University) he completed his PhD in East Asian Studies at McGill University in 2002 on Esoteric Buddhist rituals (Chinese and Tibetan), their social and political functions. His research focuses on religious ritual, lineages. legitimization and authority.

  • Tibet
  • Tibetan religion
  • Handmade manuscripts
  • Traditional spiritual teachings
  • Local lineages
  • Contemporary Tibet
  • Sino-Tibetan frontier
  • Tibetan society
  • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Bonpo Tradition

(Virtual Presentation, English)