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[books] In the service of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lama

kashopaJamyang Choegyal Kasho. In the service of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lama: Choegyal Nyima Lhundrup Kashopa — Untold stories of Tibet.
There is probably no personality in modern (pre ’59) Tibetan politics more colourful or controversial than Kashopa Choegyal Nyima. Most major histories of modern Tibet mention him, some like Shakabpa favourably, others like Goldstein in less flattering terms.
In spite of his lengthy and contentious political career Kashopa has, unfortunately, not received more in-depth attention from historians and scholars, which is a pity as he was quite deeply involved in some of the most consequential events of modern Tibetan history: the Lungshar conspiracy, the imprisonment of Gedun Choephel, the Sera War and more. One scholar has gone so far as to note that «Kashopa’s presence is felt in every aspect of Tibet’s recent history».
Kashopa’s son, Jamyang Choegyal, has now come out with a very personal and engaging biography of his famous father, which will definitely contribute to our understanding of that fascinating period in Tibetan history. For the general reader there is much to enjoy in this absorbing story of a politician’s life in old Lhasa, with all its rewards and pitfalls.
(Jamyang Norbu — Exile writer and essayist, and author of The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, Warriors of Tibet and Shadow Tibet)

New Book: Forging the Golden Urn

000000_urnMax Oidtmann. Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet.

«In Forging the Golden Urn, Max Oidtmann ventures into the polyglot world of the Qing empire in search of the origins of the golden urn tradition. He seeks to understand the relationship between the Qing state and its most powerful partner in Inner Asia—the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. Why did the Qianlong emperor invent the golden urn lottery in 1792? What ability did the Qing state have to alter Tibetan religious and political traditions? What did this law mean to Qing rulers, their advisors, and Tibetan Buddhists? Working with both the Manchu-language archives of the empire’s colonial bureaucracy and the chronicles of Tibetan elites, Oidtmann traces how a Chinese bureaucratic technology—a lottery for assigning administrative posts—was exported to the Tibetan and Mongolian regions of the Qing empire and transformed into a ritual for identifying and authenticating reincarnations. Forging the Golden Urn sheds new light on how the empire’s frontier officers grappled with matters of sovereignty, faith, and law and reveals the role that Tibetan elites played in the production of new religious traditions in the context of Qing rule».