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Tibetan Mahayoga Tantra: An Ethno-Historical Study of Skulls, Bones and Relics

Andrea Loseries-Leick (Author)

Bone carving, one of the most ancient crafts of Tibet, is here treated in the context of Mahayoga Tantra.

Since the first missionary report from Tibet in the letters to Rome(17th-18th century) the use of skulls and bones in Tibet was described as sorcery involving all sorts of magic operations, and referred in the context to head hunting practice and ancestry cults.

For the first time a full and thorough ethnohistorical investigation is presented, combining the study of early Indian written documents (5th-12th cent.) and Tibetan texts (11th -20th cent.) on the subject with field study and participating observation (1983- 1994).

The author, herself a practicing Tantrik Buddhist, relates the use of skulls and bones to rituals of the Mahayoga Tantra within Vijrayana Buddhism. On the example of five traditional ritual instruments made of human bones: Thigh bone trumpet, Damaru, Skull cup, Prayer beads and Bone ornaments, she explains the philosophical ground, application and aim of the technology, function and symbolism of Tibetan ‘bone lore’, including relics, sacred mummies and the practice of mummification in Tibet.

Spiced with autobiographical accounts this book gives a rare ethno-historical insight into to the magical mysteries of Tibet. Whoever wants to know about Trance-runners, skull oracles or how to fabricate a Cloak of Invisibility may find here the answers.

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About the author

Andrea Loseries-Leick

Andrea Loseries –Leick, an Austrian National, has studied in Paris, Santiniketan and Vienna Tibetology, Indology, History of Asian Arts and Ethnology. Fluent in four European and four Asian Languages she is an expert in field studies, focusing in her research on the cultural history of Tibet and India. As a Buddhist practitioner since 1971 she is specuilized in Higher Tantras and Iconography. Since 2006 she is holding the post of Professor and head of the department of Indo-Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, West Bengal.

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Bibliographic information

Title Tibetan Mahayoga Tantra: An Ethno-Historical Study of Skulls, Bones and Relics
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2008
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788176466424
length 310p., 34 Colour; 88 B/W Illustrations; 9.0 inch x 5.5 inch