National characteristics





The World's Longest Epic Story of King Gesar



The Biography of King Gesar is a heroic epic created by the Tibetan people in China. It was originally an oral literature circulated among the Tibetan people for more than a thousand years and has now been compiled into a book. There are more than 120 books, more than 100 million lines and more than 2000 million words in the book. It is the longest epic in the world. Some people in the world call it "the Homer epic of the East".

The Birth of 1. Epic and Its Significance

This immortal epic produced the historical period when the ancient Tibetan clan society began to disintegrate and the slavery state regime gradually formed, that is, between the 3rd and 6th centuries A. D.; After the establishment of the Tubo Dynasty (from the early 7th century to the 9th century A. D.), it was further enriched. During the collapse of the Tubo Dynasty and the great turmoil and change of Tibetan society, that is, the historical period when Tibetan society transitioned from slavery to feudal serfo, (10th century to early 12th century) widely circulated and matured. Around the 11th century, with the revival of Buddhism in Tibetan areas, Tibetan monks began to participate in the compilation, collection and dissemination of King Gesar. The basic framework of the epic Gesar began to take shape, and the earliest manuscripts appeared. The compilers, collectors and disseminators of the manuscripts were mainly monks of the Nyingma sect (commonly known as the Red sect).

The Biography of King Gesar was produced and developed on the basis of ancient Tibetan myths, legends, poems and proverbs, and represents the highest achievement of ancient Tibetan culture. It depicts the heroic achievements of the protagonist Gesar, who is not afraid of violence and difficulties and obstacles in his life, and uses amazing perseverance and magical power to fight in all directions, subdue demons, restrain the strong and support the weak, and benefit the people. It enthusiastically eulogizes the struggle of justice over evil and light over darkness. This epic reflects the major historical stage of national development and the basic structure of society, expresses the good wishes and lofty ideals of the people, and describes the numerous ethnic relations and the process of gradual unification. It is a study of the ancient Tibetan society. A great work on history, class relations, ethnic exchanges, moral concepts, folk customs, folk culture and other issues. The biography of King Gesar also has high academic value and is known as "the Homeric epic of the East".

China is a multi-ethnic family, and history has long closely linked the fate of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups. Therefore, the epic "The Biography of King Gesar" embodies the great spirit of the Chinese nation and embodies the lofty ideals of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups in pursuit of fairness, justice and a better and happy life.

The emergence, spread, evolution and development of Gesar is a rare cultural phenomenon in Tibetan history, which is rare in the history of Chinese multi-ethnic literature and even in the history of world literature. Judging from the process of the emergence, spread and development of "Gesar", the time span is very large, one to two thousand years; from the perspective of Tibetan social form, from the clan society at the end of primitive society, it has experienced the dictatorship of slave owners. And slavery society, to the feudal serfdom era, to today's socialist era, this heroic epic is still widely sung on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Several important periods of Tibetan social development in history have had an impact on the spread and development of Gesar, and the development and changes of each important historical period are directly or indirectly reflected in this epic. Gesar has also played a great role in promoting the development of Tibetan culture in various periods, thus establishing an irreplaceable important position in the history of Tibetan culture. There is no second work in the history of Tibetan culture, which can deeply reflect the history of the development of ancient Tibetan society like "Gesar" and have such a huge impact on the development of Tibetan culture. In this sense, Gesar can be called a "wonderful book".

King Gesar

Synopsis of 2. Story

"The Biography of King Gesar" tells a story: A long time ago, natural and man-made disasters spread throughout Tibetan areas, monsters and ghosts were rampant, and the common people suffered. Avalokitesvara, a great benevolent bodhisattva, asked Amitabha Buddha to send the sons of the gods to the earth to subdue demons in order to save all living beings from suffering. The son of God Twiba Kawa made a wish to go to Tibet to be the king of the black-haired Tibetans-King Gesar. In order to enable Gesar to fulfill the sacred mission of subduing demons and demons, suppressing the strong and helping the weak, and benefiting the people, the authors of the epic endowed him with special character and extraordinary talents, shaping him into a god, dragon, and Nian (a kind of Li God in Tibetan primitive religion). The hero of the half-man and half-god. After Gesar came to the world, he was framed many times, but because of his own strength and the protection of the gods, he not only was not poisoned, but killed the harmful monsters and ghosts. Gesar from the date of birth, began to eliminate harm for the people. At the age of 5, Gesar and his mother moved to the banks of the Yellow River. At the age of 8, the Ling tribe also moved here. At the age of 12, Gesar won the race meeting of the whole tribe and won the throne. At the same time, he married Sen Jiang Zhu Mu as his concubine. From then on, Gesar began to exert his heavenly power, conquering the northern demons who invaded the mountain kingdom, defeating the king of Baiwan in the country of Hall, the king of Sadan in the country of Jiang, the king of Xinchi in the gate domain, the king of Noel in the big food, the king of Chidan in the mountain stone, the king of Tuogui in Zhugu, etc., and successively subdued dozens of "zong" Zong "ancient Tibetan tribes and small states. After subduing the human demons, Gesar succeeded and returned to heaven with his mother Guo Mu and Princess Sen Jiang Zhu Mu. This is the end of the magnificent epic "The Legend of King Gesar.

From the perspective of the story structure of "The Biography of King Gesar", it summarizes two major historical periods in the history of Tibetan social development in a vertical aspect; in a horizontal aspect, it contains nearly a hundred tribes, states and regions, large and small, and has thousands of horizontal dimensions. Li, the connotation is broad, and the structure is magnificent. It is mainly divided into three parts: first, the birth, that is, the birth part of Gesar; second, the battle, that is, the process of Gesar's subduing demons; third, the end, that is, Gesar's return to heaven. Of the three parts, the second part is the richest and most ambitious. In addition to the famous four major demons-"Northern Demons", "Huoling War", "Defending the Salt Sea", and "Menling War", there are 18 large, 18 middle and 18 small ones. Each important story and Each war constitutes a relatively independent epic. The Biography of King Gesar is like a big treasure bag, a big flower circle of literature, art and aesthetics. It is rooted in the fertile soil of social life at that time. It not only summarizes the major stages and processes of Tibetan historical development, reveals the broad social life, but also shapes hundreds of characters. Among them, whether it is a positive hero or a negative tyrant, whether it is a man or a woman, whether it is an old man or a young man, they all portray a distinctive personality, prominent images, and leave an indelible impression, especially for the heroes headed by Gesar. The image is described best, thus becoming an immortal model in the history of Tibetan literature. It is one of the characteristics of the epic of Gesar to shape the characters through their own language, action and storyline. Therefore, although there are many characters, they do not give people the feeling of similarity and conceptualization. The same is to write heroes, but each is different, write Gesar is far-sighted, leadership style. Jia Zha was written to be brave and strong, while Dan Ma was both wise and brave. Everyone has a prominent personality and a clear image. The image of women is to create a beautiful language, the characters are lifelike. For example, when the epic "Huoling War" describes that Hall's three kings, Xingbing, went to rob the great princess Zhu Mu of Gesar in the country of Ling, it was because Hall's white tent king died the princess and sent Hall's four birds to search for beautiful women all over the world. The crow brought back news to him:

Beautiful girl in Lingguo,

Princess Zhu Mu looks pretty.

She's worth a hundred horses for one step forward,

She took a step back worth a hundred fat sheep;

She is warmer than the sun in winter,

She is cooler than the moon in summer;

all over the mountain fragrant race flowers,

The bees swarms around;

Although there are countless beautiful women in the world,

Only she is worthy of the king;

King Gesar goes north,

She is now in a vacant room.


The Biography of King Gesar originated from social life and has a solid foundation of rich ancient Tibetan literature, especially ancient folk literature. Before the epic "The Biography of King Gesar" was produced, Tibetan literary categories, especially folk literature categories, such as myths, legends, stories, poems, etc., were complete, rich in content and numerous. Therefore, the biography of King Gesar has drawn sufficient nutrition from the previous folk literature works and inherited the excellent literary tradition in terms of the main body of the work, the creation, the materials of the work, the means of expression, as well as the ideological content, ideology, religious beliefs, customs and habits. All kinds of folk works and their materials are expressed in the epic. In terms of language and rhetoric, "Gesar" quotes countless Tibetan proverbs, the number of which is amazing. Some are quoted in the original text, and some have been processed. Such:

If you don't sow in spring and March,

Autumn in March difficult to harvest six valley;

If you don't feed the cows in winter and March,

Spring March hard milking;

If horses are not bred often,

In the face of war, it is difficult for the enemy to gallop.

Although hungry do not eat rotten chaff,

It is the nature of the white-lipped wild horse;

Although thirsty does not drink ditch water,

It is the nature of a ferocious bison;

Though bitter not tears,

It is the nature of a heroic man.

Painting, Gesar Demon

In the biography of King Gesar, there are still various praise words, such as "wine praise", "mountain praise", "tea praise", "horse praise", "sword praise", "clothing praise", "armor praise" and so on. The famous wine praise is like this:

This bowl of wine in my hand,

To say that history has a head;

Jasper, blue sky,

The blue jade dragon roared.

Electric light sparkled red light,

Silky drizzle flow of nectar.

With this cleansing nectar,

The earth man brews fine wine.

If you want to make good wine, grow grain first,

Five treasures of the earth gold basin open.

The earth golden basin grain long,

In autumn, the sickle cuts the crops.

The cattle-yaks came side by side to fight,

Pull up the goo.


The wind blows chaff everywhere.

Yang Jing was loaded into the Sifang library,

Man Ku Man Cang Highland Barley Grain.

Highland barley wine full of joy,

Huahua Hanzao was set up first.

Auspicious spin of the good copper pot,

White towel to wipe the pot.

Pour clean water and boil highland barley,

The kitchen was burning with fire.

Boil the highland barley and put it on the felt,

Mix with the essence of good wine.

It takes a year to make wine,

Nian's name is Ganlu Sweet.

It's the moon wine that breeds January,

The moon wine is called ganlu cold.

The day is the day wine,

Japanese wine is called nectar spin.


Right, sir, drink it,

The heart is larger than the sky.

The timid drink on the battlefield,

A fierce charge killed the enemy.

The benefits of drinking this wine,

This wine is scarce,

This is the king's wine,

This is a sad wine,

This is a dance and singing wine,


In addition, the biography of King Gesar is also a flower basket of folk literature materials. Many of its contents are taken from folk songs, myths and stories. In turn, it has become a rich garden for later literary and artistic creation to collect materials and borrow themes. Such as the later development of folk songs and dances, many tunes are taken from the "biography of King Gesar", some songs are directly eulogized Gesar couple. Another example is the myths, legends and folk tales with rich themes, many of which are taken from the biography of King Gesar. The famous story of the seven brothers is the interweaving of the story of the seven brothers building buildings for people and the story of King Gesar. Another example is that a large number of unique paintings and sculptures are also based on the storyline of "The Legend of King Gesar", painted into murals, or Gesar is used as a protector of the law, and the sculptures are provided. The biography of King Gesar adopts the style of prose and poetry, in which the poetry part plays a role of connecting the past and the future and communicating the past and the present in the history of poetry in the history of Tibetan literature. For example:

The tiger king is so gorgeous,

Wandering to show his power to the Tanlin,

What's the use of the obvious,

Wild yaks are young and gorgeous,

Want to dance horn to climb black rock mountain,

What's the use of dancing without being young?

Wild steed white lips beautiful,

To roam the prairie,

What's the use of running without white lips?

Huo Hero Tang Ze is gorgeous,

Want to fight to the ridge battlefield,

What's the use of not being able to compare with a jade dragon?

This kind of poetry can be seen everywhere in the biography of King Gesar. It not only inherits the pattern of multi-paragraph loops of poetry in the Tubo era, but also breaks through the six-character syllable sentence in the Tubo period and becomes an eight-character syllable sentence. This kind of multi-segment loop style of poetry was basically formed and fixed around the 11th century, and there has been no major change until now. It is widely used in Tibetan folk songs, narrative poems, long songs, poems in lyric stories, poems in Tibetan operas and poems of literati and scholars, and has become the most influential and important meter in Tibetan poetry.

The epic integrates the stories, myths, poems, fables, proverbs, maxims and so on in real life by means of poetry and prose, singing and Daobai, and becomes the aggregator of Tibetan folk culture.

Tibetan Scholars Study the Biography of King Gesar

3. excavation, arrangement and research

After collection and sorting, the biography of King Gesar is more than the sum of the five most famous epics in the world in terms of the number of lines and words, namely, the ancient Babylonian epic Gilgamesh, the Greek epic Iliad, Odysseus, the Indian epic Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Babylonian epic "Gilgamesh" is considered to be the oldest epic in the world. It was born in more than 3000 BC and has 3000 lines. The Iliad has 24 volumes and more than 15,000 lines. The Odysseus is also 24 volumes with more than 12,000 lines. "Ramayana" is divided into seven chapters, with more than 18,000 psalms, each psalm with two lines. Mahabharata consists of 18 articles, with more than 100000 anthems and more than 200,000 lines.

The excavation and arrangement of the biography of King Gesar is also of great significance in the history of Chinese culture, filling an important gap in the history of Chinese multi-ethnic literature. She explained with living facts that there were epics not only in the West, but also in the East; not only in ancient India, but also in China, thus overturning the long-standing erroneous assertion that "there is no epic in China. China has not only epics, but also great epics. Like the Greek epic and the Indian epic, the biography of King Gesar is a bright pearl in the treasure house of world culture and an important contribution of the Chinese nation to human civilization.

The rescue work of "The Biography of King Gesar" is a system engineering that includes many aspects, involves multiple disciplines, and is related to various departments. After the founding of the the People's Republic of China in 1949, the people's government attached great importance to the rescue work of the biography of King Gesar. As early as the 1950 s, large-scale collection and sorting work was carried out. On March 23, 1959, the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China specially wholesale documents for this purpose, taking the rescue work of King Gesar as an important content to welcome the 10th anniversary of the National Day. Through the joint efforts of folk writers and artists of all ethnic groups, great achievements have been made.

At the end of the 1970 s, China entered a new historical period of reform and opening up, and the rescue work of "The Biography of King Gesar" began again. Since 1983, the collection, collation and research of epic has been listed as a national key scientific research project for three consecutive times. In 1984, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Culture, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Chinese Folk Artists Association and the relevant departments of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Yunnan, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and other provinces and autonomous regions jointly established corresponding organizations and unified planning., Division of labor and cooperation, to jointly complete this arduous and far-reaching cultural undertaking.

The state has organized academic investigation and scientific research teams of hundreds of people for decades, and the investigators have traveled all over half of China, which is an unprecedented feat in the history of Tibetan culture. it is also rare in the history of China's multi-ethnic literature and art.

After decades of struggle, especially in the past 10 years, a scientific research team with several ethnic components, including rap, collection, collation, translation, publishing and academic research, has been formed. He has written and published many works and investigation reports with certain academic standards, and collected extremely precious materials, which has laid a solid foundation for the in-depth study of the biography of King Gesar. On this basis, academic activities have continued to increase. Not only various forms of artist concerts and academic research associations have been organized, but also four international academic seminars have been held. Many foreign scholars believe that "Gesar" has developed rapidly and has become one of the most active disciplines in Chinese Tibetology, Mongolian studies, and even folk literature. A discipline system of "Gesar" with Chinese characteristics has been initially formed and will not continue to develop. Its potential huge disciplinary advantages and rich cultural connotations are increasingly recognized by people. At the 7th International Conference on Tibetan Studies held in Austria in June 1995, "Gesar" was discussed as a special project for the first time. The ancient heroic epic "The Legend of King Gesar", with its unique national style and rich content, fully demonstrated its brilliant brilliance and strong artistic vitality, and at the same time won honor for China in the international academic community.

So far, a total of nearly 300 Tibetan manuscripts and woodcuts have been collected, excluding different texts, about 100. More than 70 Tibetan texts have been officially published, with a total print of more than 300 million copies. Based on the total population of Tibetans, the average adult has one copy per person. At the same time, more than 20 Chinese translations have been published. This is an unprecedented major achievement in the history of Tibetan publishing.

4. Folk Artist's Effort and Wisdom

The reason why the biography of King Gesar can be passed down for hundreds of generations and still lives in the folk should be attributed to the most direct creators, successors and disseminators of the epic, those talented folk rap artists. They are real people's artists and excellent people's poets who are welcomed by the people. These folk artists, in the long years, with their amazing talent, carried out hard creative activities, with their painstaking efforts to water "Gesar" this wonderful work of literature. They are passed down from generation to generation, and talented people come forth in large numbers. In them, the people's wisdom and great creative spirit are reflected. Those folk artists with extraordinary intelligence and artistic talent have made indelible contributions to the inheritance and development of Tibetan culture, and they are always worthy of the memory and respect of the present and future generations.

In the large-scale rescue work, through investigation, nearly 100 rap artists active in rural and pastoral areas were found, known as "Zhongken" in Tibetan ". More than ten of them are outstanding artists who enjoy high reputation among the masses. Before they rap, they have to hold various rituals, or invite gods with incense, or sing to the mirror, and when they rap, they also wear hats as props with various bird feathers inserted, hand-pulled horn harp or hand-cranked small tambourine. During the "Snowdon" Festival in August 1984, a concert of Gesar artists from seven provinces and regions was held in Lhasa. More than 40 artists attended the concert, including the famous artist Zaba Elder and female artist Yumei.

The famous Tibetan rap artist Zaba dedicated his life to the cause of "Gesar". The old man died in November 1986. In the hours before his death, he was still rapping "Gesar" tirelessly. Although he died, he left an extremely precious cultural heritage to future generations. During his lifetime, he rapped 25 biography of King Gesar, with nearly 600000 lines and more than 600 million words. This is equivalent to 25 Homeric epics, 15 Indian epics Ramayana or 3 Mahabharata. This is the longest and most complete set of artist rap books to date. It embodies the wisdom and artistic genius of the old man Zaba, and is one of the most important achievements in the rescue work of "Gesar" in the new era.

Unlike other folk artists, the rap artists in "The Biography of King Gesar" do not recognize the inheritance of master and apprentice, and the inheritance of father and son. They think that the ability of rap epic cannot be taught or learned. It depends on "fate" and the enlightenment of "gods". It is possessed by "poetry gods. They believe that the emergence of generations of rap artists is the reincarnation of a certain figure related to King Gesar. This concept is consistent with the concept of "reincarnation of soul" and "reincarnation of living Buddha" in Tibetan traditional culture.

5. influence sowing and abroad

As early as the Tubo Dynasty, the ancient and late poem "The Biography of King Gesar" spread to countries and regions around the Himalayas. After about the 13th century, with the introduction of Buddhism into the Mongolian area, a large number of Tibetan classics and literary works It was translated into Mongolian, and "The Biography of King Gesar" gradually spread to the Mongolian area, becoming a self-contained Mongolian "The Biography of King Gesar", called "The Biography of King Gesar". In the second half of the 14th century, that is, the late Yuan and early Ming, it spread on a larger scale. At the same time, it also spread to the Tu, Naxi, Yugur and other brotherly ethnic groups bordering the Tibetan areas.

Foreign introduction and research "Gesar" has a history of more than 200 years. Some chapters of Gesar have been translated into English, Russian, German, French and other languages. Foreign readers understand and begin to study Gesar from the Mongolian text. In 1716 (the 55th year of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty), after the Mongolian text "Gesar" was engraved in Beijing, foreign scholars had the opportunity to come into contact with this epic. In 1776, the Russian traveler Pallas first introduced "Gesar" in the book "The Collection of Mongolian Historical Documents" (St. Petersburg Edition), discussing the singing form of the epic and the scriptures related to the epic, and The protagonist Gesar made a comment. In 1836, Russian scholar Yakov Schmid printed the Mongolian text in movable type, which was later translated into German and published in St. Petersburg in 1939. It was the first foreign language publication on Gesar. Since then, foreign scholars have begun to pay attention to the "Biography of King Gesar", and have successively published texts introducing research. For example, in the treatise "The Hero Epic of Tatar" published by Academician Schifner of Russia in St. Petersburg, Tatar The hero epic is compared with "Gesar. At the end of the 19th century, foreign countries began to pay attention to the Tibetan text "Gesar". From 1879 to 1885, Das, an Indian, went to Tibet in China two times to collect a large number of Tibetan materials such as Gesar, and then began to publish papers on Gesar. The excavation of Tibetan materials has undoubtedly broadened the horizons of foreign researchers and led to the emergence of Eastern and Western schools. The leader of the Oriental School (referring to the Soviet Union, Mongolia and Eastern European countries) in the study of Gesar should first refer to the Mongolian People's Republic's Ce Damuddin Sulun. In a sense, his research results can represent The level of the entire Eastern School. His main masterpiece is "On the historical origin of Gesar". The study of Gesar in the West was later than that in the East, starting from the 1930 s and entering its heyday in the 1960 s. The main representatives of the Western School are two French scholars, namely, Ms. Alexander David Neil and Professor Shi Taian. David Neal came to China twice and lived in Tibetan areas of Sichuan for a long time. During this period, with the help of Lama Yundeng, he directly listened to folk artists rap "Gesar", recorded and sorted it out, and collected manuscripts and woodcuts. After returning to China, he compiled the data he collected into a Gesar story, called "The Life of Ling Gesar Superman", which was published in French in Paris in 1931. The book was translated into English and published in London in 1933. The publication of the book made more Westerners begin to understand and know the biography of King Gesar. Professor Shi Taian is a well-known contemporary Tibetologist. He has written a lot throughout his life. His main contributions to the "Biography of King Gesar" are: "The Tibetan Picture Scroll of Gesar's Life" published in 1958; "Tibetan Epic The Biography of King Gesar and the Study of Rap Artists", the book comprehensively and systematically discusses the epic of "Gesar" and its rap artists, which can be regarded as a summary of Western countries.

In recent years, the research of "Gesar" at home and abroad has made considerable progress. The research results of Chinese scholars have had a positive impact in the international academic community and have been highly praised by some experts. For example, when the famous German epic expert and professor of the University of Bonn, Vahesisi, attended the first "Gesar" International Symposium held in Chengdu, Sichuan in November 1989, he said excitedly: "I envy you, your The government attaches such importance to the collection and sorting of folk literature and national epics, and there is almost no precedent in the history of the development of world literature. You are very lucky. Your work is of world significance. In our country and in many other countries, the collection of folk literature mainly depends on experts and scholars themselves."

The collection, collation and research of Gesar, the cultural cause of the Tibetan people and even the whole of China, is being carried out extensively and deeply.



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