In the 7th century, the Tang court in China sent Princess Wencheng off on a long journey to marry the king of Tibet. The princess was influential in converting Tibet to Buddhism, but her full impact and legacy has been contested by central authorities in China and Lhasa for over a thousand years (is this the world's longest propaganda battle?).
A few years back, I set off on my own travels to Tibet and in the eastern regions discovered a highly localized and utterly captivating version of the princess story. This story centered around her illicit love affair with a Tibetan minister and the birth of a child who later reincarnated to found a powerful line of local Buddhist masters.
In this second episode in The Borderlands series, my guest is anthropologist Cameron David Warner. He's a collector of Princess Wencheng stories, and a scholar who has a way of making the complexities of Tibetan Buddhism seem entirely relatable.
| Credits |
Cameron David Warner is Associate professor. School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropology at Aarhus University in Denmark. I discovered his article A Miscarriage of History after my return from Tibet in 2014, and it became the guiding spirit for his podcast. I had a long conversation with Prof Warner via skype later which formed the bulk of the audio for this podcast and which filled in much of my patchy knowledge of Tibetan religious culture.
Thanks to Sandy Murray for cluing me into the Stone of Scone story. And also to Zuni Mountain Stupa for allowing me to confirm the reincarnation lineage of the Bhakha Tulku and for permission to use recordings of his chants.
All the writing and editing for this show, as well as all the audio editing and mixing, was done by me, Robert Kelly.
"In the Orchard Lies a Secret" - Moshang
"Teller of the Tales" "Colossus" "Thatched Villagers" "Touching Moments 2" "Infados" and "Overheat" - Kevin MacLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
"Medicine Buddha Prayers" - Bhakha Tulku
"Baited" - Electrocado