Though much of the history of Islamic-Tibetan interactions is still shrouded in obscurity, enough is known to indicate that there were political and economic interactions between the Tibetan empire and Muslims from the seventh century onwards (see for example W. Barthold, C.E. Bosworth & M. Gaborieau, “Tubbat”, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2000; Beckwith, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. 1987). The Tibetan Empire and the Caliphate formed an alliance in the 8th century; Tibet was well known through embassies and trade. It was located on Arabic maps, and its co-ordinates were given in astronomical works.
Our aims, therefore, are:
* To provide a historical description of the cultural interactions between Tibet and the Islamic world, as they are evident in the history of sciences of these two cultures.
* To explore examples in Tibetan and Arabic literature of how religious ideas of these two cultures interacted.
* To establish an active inter-disciplinary international network of scholars working on various connections between Buddhism and Islam.
In the sphere of medicine, Tibetan historiography has tended to emphasize the links with Indian medicine, which has led to a similar bias in the western historiography of Tibetan medicine. There are, however, a number of indications that point to significant, but as yet unstudied links with Graeco-Arabic medicine.
We would also focus on the mutual influence between Buddhism and Islam as is suggested by the significant presence of different Sufi orders in Central and South Asia. Some of the most influential Sufi orders such as the Naqshbandiyyah and the Chishtiyyah developed techniques regulating the breath which are peculiar to Eastern Sufism and might give evidence of the influence of Yogis (see T. Zarcone, “Sufism from Central Asia among the Tibetan in the 16-17th Centuries”, TJ, 20, 1995).
The project is funded by the AHRC and based at the Warburg Institute, where the library already has rich resources in the history of religions and the sciences, and in cultural exchange, and where our exploration of the transmission of Graeco-Arabic learning to Tibet will add another dimension to the study of the Classical Tradition, to which the Institute is devoted.
ISLAM-TIBET PAST EVENTS
Rashid al-Din as an Agent and Mediator of Crosspollinations in Religion, Medicine, Science and Art
London, 8-9 November 2007
Islam & Tibet: Cultural Interactions.
16 - 18 November 2006
Astro-Medicine: Medicine and Astronomy East and West
13-14 May 2005
Presentation by Professor Charles Burnett, ‘Islam and Tibet. Interactions along the Musk Routes’.Rubin Museum of Art, New York, October 27th, 2008
Presentation by Dr Georgios Halkias, 'Religious Syncretism in the Indian Himalayas'.
Austrian Academy of Science, April 15th, 2008. Vienna, Austria.
Presentation by Dr Anna Akasoy, ‘Islamic Concepts and Terminology in Rashid al-Din’s Life of the Buddha’ (in German)
Workshop: Neuere Forschungen zu hagiographischen Fragen (15), 10-12 April 2008, Stuttgart-Hohenheim
Presentation by Dr Georgios Halkias ‘Modern Pasts: Tracing the 1679 Tibet-Bashahr Treaty.’
Warburg Institute, Lecture Room, 27th of February 2008, 2:15 pm.
Presentations by Dr Anna Akasoy, ‘Dying of Laughter in Lhasa. Tibet in Islamic Geography and Cartography’
(Universities of Haifa and Beer Sheva), December 2007
Presentation by Dr Anna Akasoy, ‘Alexander the Great in the Islamic Tradition. Recent Developments and Fields for Future Research’
Exploratory Workshop – Hellenism: Alien or Germane Wisdom?, Central European University, Budapest, 23-25 November 2007
Medicine on the Silk Roads, Transmissions and Transformation, a workshop dedicated to “Medicine on the Silk Roads, Transmissions and Transformations” took place at the British Library and the Wellcome Institute. Dr. Yoeli-Tlalim and Dr. Akasoy gave two talks in which they presented some of the results of the project (click each title below for details): Between Tibet and the Islamic World: Musk Trade and Medicine Rashīd al-Dīn as a Source for Islamic-Buddhist Contacts Warburg Institute lunch time lecture On 2 February 2006 in their lunch time lecture Dr. Akasoy and Dr. Yoeli-Tlalim presented four aspects of their research (click the title below for details) Islam and Tibet: Cultural Interactions along the Musk Routes
Edited volumes: (edited by Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim)
Astromedicine, Astrology and Medicine, East and West (Micrologus Library, 2008).
Click here for more details
Islam and Tibet. Interactions along the Musk Routes Ashgate 2010.
Follow this link for details
Rashid al-Din as an Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran
(The Warburg Institute Colloquia Series).