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The Bon Landscape of Dolpo

Pilgrimages, Monasteries, Biographies and the Emergence of Bon


Marietta Kind

The reader is taken on a journey to Dolpo, one of Nepal’s remotest Tibetan enclaves with a large community that follow the Bon religion. The present ethnography regards the landscape of Dolpo as the temporary result of an ongoing cumulative cultural process that emerges from the interaction of the natural environment and the communities that inhabit it and endow it with meaning. Pilgrimage provides the key to structuring the book, which is based on anthropological research and the study of the textual legacy. Along the extensive and richly illustrated Bon pilgrimages through Dolpo, the various strands of the written and the oral, the local and the general, the past and present are unrolled step by step and woven into a pattern that provides a first insight into the partial shift from a landscape inhabited by territorial deities to a Bon landscape. In addition, it presents an overview of the main protagonists who discovered the sacred sites, opened pilgrimages, founded monasteries and disseminated the crucial Bon teachings. A number of well-known Tibetan figures emerge among these players thanks to translations of biographies that have survived in rare and unpublished manuscripts. This book sheds light on how Bon religion emerged in Dolpo and has remained alive.
Contents: Landscape, mountain cult, conversion and pilgrimage – A Sketch of the religious and Historical Context – Bon, Zhangzhung, Tibet, Nepal and Dolpo – Opening Sacred Grounds – Bon Pilgrimages in Dolpo – Transformational Processes in the Bon pilgrimages – The main protagonists and the crucial teachings in the propagation of Bon in Dolpo.