ISLAM & TIBET: Publications

Edited volumes

• Astromedicine, Astrology and Medicine, East and West, ed. Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, Florence (Sismel, Micrologus Library) 2008

• Islam and Tibet. Interactions along the Musk Routes, ed. Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, Farnham (Ashgate) 2010

• Rashid al-Din: Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran, London (Warburg Institute Colloquia) 2012
 

Selected publications by the project participants

Anna Akasoy

• ‘Along the Musk Routes. Exchanges between Tibet and the Islamic World.’ In Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 3/2 (2007), pp. 217-40 (with Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim).
— Musk was the most important trading good from Tibet in the Islamic world where it was highly prized due to its aphrodisiac effect. As in the lands where it came from, musk was used in the Middle East for medical purposes. This article compares medical uses of musk in Tibetan and Islamic medicines and explores ways of the transmission of medical knowledge along the trading routes, presenting the novel concept of ‘Musk Routes’ following the model of the Silk Roads.

• ‘Tibet in Islamic Geography and Cartography: A Survey of Arabic and Persian Sources’, in Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett, Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (eds), Islam and Tibet: Cultural Interactions, pp. 17-41.
— Since the time of the first military and political encounters between the Islamic world and Tibet, Muslim geographers have included Tibet in their texts and maps. This article presents a survey of the primary sources in Arabic and Persian and outlines a general development.

Georgios T. Halkias

• “Until the Feathers of the Winged Black Raven Turn White: Sources for the Tibet-Bashahr Treaty of 1679-1684”, in Mountains, Monasteries and Mosques: Recent Research on Ladakh and the Western Himalaya, ed. John Bray and Elena de Rossi Filibeck, Pisa 2009, supplement to Rivista Degli Studi Orientali, Nuova Serie, Volume LXXX, pp. 61-86.
— Diverse polities are known to have formed around the western Himalayan frontier zones from the earliest times, flourishing along ancient and vital mountain-passes that linked sub-continental trade with trans-continental commercial networks, the Silk Routes. The articles in this volume discuss historical sources for a neglected trading treaty forged in 1679 between the Raja of Bashahar in India and the Tibetan government in Lhasa - bearing relevance to contemporary Sino-Indian border disputes and the aftermath of the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War of 1679-1684. Evidence included derives froma two month archival research at the National Archives in Delhi and Shimla and travels through Kinnaur, Spiti, Lahaul, and Ladakh (India). Documents from this research trip can be found in the Tibet-Islam image and text electronic repository.

• “Loss of Memory and Continuity of Praxis in Rampur-Bashahr: an Itinerant Study of Seventeenth-Century Tibetan Murals”, in Contemporary Visions in Tibetan Studies, co-edited with Brandon Dotson et al. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2009, pp. 139-155.
— This narrative stems from research conducted in July 2007 in the town of Rampur-Bashahr, state of Himachal Pradesh, India. On-site investigation prompted locating a unique set of Tibetan-style murals painted at the Shish Mahal Palace to commemorate a clandestine military alliance that transpired during the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal war, 1679-1684. Equally, the seventeenth-century murals were meant to celebrate a trading treaty that ensued at the aftermath: tax-free trading between the Himalayan kingdom of Bashahr and western Tibet territories (the latter lost by Ladakh to the Tibetan government) . Unfortunately, the treaty-murals were no longer available for observation. In their place, I discovered an exemplar of symbiotic proselytism: late twentieth-century Tibetan murals depicting major Hindu and Buddhist deities signed by a Tibetan inscription praising the Buddhist merit of the religious images, dating the time of their composition, and reporting on those officiating as the king and queen mother of the bygone kingdom of Bashahr along with two honorary members, none of whom were Tibetan. The article demonstrates that the murals represent a meeting of faiths and cultures in Bashahr that goes back to at least the seventeenth century and concords with oral and written histories.

• “The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas: Princess Exchange in Ladakh and Baltistan”, in Islam and Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes (cited above)

• “Histories of Tibet from the Margins: Borderland Wars and Trade in the North-West Himalayas”, in New Perspectives on Tibetan Traditionality, ed. Laura Harrington and Robert Barnett (in progress)
 

Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim

• ‘Along the Musk Routes. Exchanges between Tibet and the Islamic World’, in Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 3/2 (2007), pp. 217-40 (with Anna Akasoy).

• ‘On Urine Analysis and Tibetan Medicine’s Connections with the West’, in Frances Garrett, Mona Schrempf and Sienna Craig (eds.), Studies in the History of Tibetan Medicine, Proceedings of the 11th seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies 2006, International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH (IITBS) (forthcoming).
— We know, thanks to the work of Chris Beckwith, that Tibetan medical histories placed great importance on the contribution of Greek-derived medicine. What was the nature of that contribution has remained an open question, and this article is a preliminary attempt to answer it, by focussing on one of the earliest extant Tibetan medical texts, the Zla ba’i rgyal po, and particularly on its urine analysis section.

• “Islam and Tibet: Cultural Interactions - An Introduction”, in Islam and Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes (cited above).
— 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. This book is a first attempt to deal with the vast area of cultural interactions between Islamic and Tibetan cultures. The introduction contextualises the work, conducted in very different fields and disciplines.

• ‘Rashid al-Din’s Life of the Buddha – Buddhist Perspectives’, in Rashid al-Din: Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchange (cited above). 
— This paper discusses the way of ‘cultural translation’ in which Rashid al-Din uses and adapts Buddhist notions in his ‘Life of the Buddha’. As such it exemplifies the way in which Buddhism and Islam not only translated each other in the Ilkhanid court, but also interacted with each other.