Länder & Reisen

ISBN: 978-3-7059-0515-3
25 x 32,5 cm, 376 pages with 530 photos and illustrations, Hardcover.
English translation by
Henry M. Lieberman.

Kailash – Guge (English edition)

Tibetan Temples for the Gods of India

West Tibet´s uniqueness is the result of the combination of overwhelming natural landscapes and a perceptible spiritual atmosphere. This part of the Tibetan Plateau is the true "Land of the Gods", for here is located the divine Mt. Kailash. Since time immemorial the followers of four religious communities worship this mountain as their holiest spiritual "centre": Bön-pos, Jains, Hindus and Buddhists. Here was, and still is, the place of the gods of Tibet and of India. The first section of Part I of the present volume is devoted, both in text and illustration, to Mt. Kailash, with the historical-mythological viewpoint and its relationship to the Vedic-Hinduistic cultural realm on the Indian subcontinent being especially stressed. Thereafter, the reader, following the Sutlej ­River (one of the "four waters of Kailash") westward, reaches the sunken kingdom of Guge, widely dominated by the beige-yellowish deposits of a huge prehistoric lake gleaming in the bright light of the sun. Following the footsteps of the Italian scholar Giuseppe Tucci, the journey continues through the fantastic canyon landscape of that prehistoric Lake Zanda, laying bare a veritable treasure chest of that unique Indo-Tibetan Tantric art, which in rudimentary form is still preserved in the centres of the former kingdom, the temples of Tsaparang and Tholing.
The shorter, second part of the book deals with the latest findings and discoveries from archaeological and geologic research. Aspects of the pre-Buddhist, so-called "prehistoric" West Tibet are discussed, as well as the development of the greater Indo-Tibetan Region during the distant past; for this, perspectives of both natural science as well as of the divine Veda are taken into account.
376 pages with 530 photos and illustrations. With image contributions dealing with the temple frescoes in Guge by Jürgen C. Aschoff and Hans Först.
English translation from the original German by Henry M. Lieberman.
Expanded English version of the 2016 German edition.

"Only mankind has the power to destroy the Earth.
Birds and rabbits cannot do so.
Yet if mankind has the power to destroy the Earth,
then it also has the power
to save it from destruction."

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize)

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Book reviews:

No time or expense was spared in the preparation of this large format, lavishly illustrated volume about Asia´s most important sacred mountain. Ambitious in its scope, the work comprehensively surveys the cultural, religious and geological history of Mount Kailash, situated in southwestern Tibet. Mount Kailash has been situated at the forefront of pilgrimage for millions of Indians and Tibetans for centuries. However, relatively few people could make it there traditionally, with countless perishing along the way in blizzards, avalanches and floods. Thöni presents the practices and beliefs of Hindus and Jains, Buddhists, and Bonpos in lucid detail, tracing the roots of Mount Kailash in human imagination and endeavor from prehistory to modern times. In addition to describing the colorful customs and devotions of the various visitors to Tibet´s holiest natural site, Thöni regales readers with an account of Indian temples related to Mount Kailash. Based on his own scientific research, the author also covers the physical environment of Mount Kailash, explaining its geologic history in clear, easy to understand language. Tibetan Temples for the Gods of India is required reading for anyone interested in Indian and Tibetan religions and cultures and is an indispensable companion for those who might want to make the trip there themselves. (John Vincent Bellezza, Ph.D.)


Kingdom and art of Tsaparang in Western Tibet:
A great book! Mythology and religion, history, prehistory and early history/archaeology, art and nature (geology) - all of these are subjects included in the extensive, large-format, illustrated text volume entitled "Kailash-Guge, Tibetan Temples for the Gods of India" (German edition, 2016) by Martin Thöni, with over 500 pictures, many of which occupy an entire page. The two core subjects of the book, however, are holy Mount Kailash and the temple art of Guge. In the first, extensive chapter of the book, the ancient veneration of Mount Kailash by several religious communities (Bön-pos, Jains, Hindus and Buddhists) is discussed. The millennia-old anchoring of the divine mountain Kailasa within the Vedic-Hindu cultural sphere and its "materialisation" in architecture and graphic art in the Indian subcontinent plays a preeminent role in this context; this is demonstrated, in the presentation of this chapter, by actual photographic material, mostly from southern India - a significant difference of this volume compared to other publications on this subject. The second, and in a way the principal, central part, is dedicated to history and research history, but in particular the Tantric Indo-Tibetan art in the largely ruined temples in the two capital cities of the sunken kingdom of Guge: Tholing and Tsaparang. Following an introductory subchapter which follows the trails of the Italian Tibetologist Giuseppe Tucci through the Sutlej Valley in 1933 and 1935, the author describes the present-day condition of the artwork in the temples of Tsaparang and Tholing. The extensive and rich illustration of this section of the book, in excess of 150 pages, shows photographs taken by the author in the course of three trips (1990, 1998 and 2015) through Guge, and also includes numerous images (some never previously published) taken by other authors of badly damaged sculptures and wonderful mural frescoes from these temples.
It was especially in these two principal chapters that the new English-language edition, in comparison to the German-language one of 2016), saw a significant increase in the number and richness of illustrations. In the final section of the book, the author, taking up once more the context of the first chapter to the holy mountain and home of the devas (the Vedic-Hindu gods), discusses mythological and historical questions surrounding the greater Indo-Tibetan cultural sphere and its inhabitants, and finally sketches out the geologic development of those regions which led to the formation of the highest mountain range and highland of the world, namely Tibet and the Himalayas.
Thanks to its volume and the variety of subject matters, the book should be of interest to a wide array of readers. In terms of documentation of the threatened, unique works of art in the ruined temples of Guge, as well as of the various aspects of Mount Kailash, this volume is an exceptional one. (Fabri Antiquariat / J. C. Aschoff)

Preis: € 64,00
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