Monday, May 31, 2010

Zhang Zhung - Images from a Lost Kingdom

Zhang Zhung – Images from a Lost Kingdom, is an introduction to the kingdom of Zhang Zhung, an ancient realm which originated more than three thousand years ago, in what is today western Tibet. Rooted in Bon, the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, the kingdom was famed in its time, but subsequently its name became virtually unknown even to Tibetans who regarded it as only the irreal setting of myths or legends. However, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu discovered in his decades-long research into Tibetan history that this realm was the true cradle of Tibetan culture. Zhang Zhung - Images from a Lost Kingdom begins with his account, entitled "Zhang Zhung: A Brief Introduction" written in 1993, and describes the expedition to Khyung lung dngul mkhar, the Silver Palace of the Valley of the Garuda, an ancient and important capital of the early kings of Zhang Zhung. This expedition is illustrated by a photographic essay which contains twenty-four color and sixteen black-and-white pictures.

The final section of the book, the Appendix, entitled “The Origins of Tibetan Culture and Thought,” the text of a lecture given by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in Barcelona, Spain, in 1987, offers considerations to keep in mind in this field, such as the importance of objectivity when studying early pre-Tibetan history. This openmindedness is equally relevant in assessing the nature of the ancient principles of energy and the use of religious rituals as a precious element in medical cures, knowledge, which Chögyal Namkhai Norbu outlines here, central to the Bon culture of Zhang Zhung, itself the foundation and wellspring of what later became Tibet.

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