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IV. Collection and Categorization of Folk Literature and Art


The long-standing folk literature and art of the Tibetan nationality has distinctive national and regional characteristics. From the 1950s, literary and art workers of Tibetan and Han nationalities began to concentrate their attention in this field. After a long period of research, Tibetan Folk Stories and other works were eventually published.

In the 1984 instruction on the works in Tibet by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, it is clearly written: ''The Tibetan nationality has old and unique cultural tradition as well as rich and colorful literature and artistic heritages. This nationality is good at singing and dancing. We should pay great respect to it, and do our utmost to inherit and develop Tibetan national culture and art, as well as protect its historical heritages in a scientific way,'' In line with the spirit expressed in this instruction, the Tibet Autonomous Region's government devoted a vast amount of manpower, as well as material and financial resources into a well-organized and large-scale work-study project of folk music, dances, operas, songs, rhymes, proverbs, fables, legends and stories. By the end of 1992, hundreds of millions of words had been compiled of the folk literatures of Tibet, Monba and Lhoba Nationalizes. The barge folk literature series included Collection of Tibet Folk Stories, Collection of Tibetan Ballads, Collection of Tibetan Proverbs, Collection of Tibetan Folk Dances, Collection of Tibetan Folk Music, Annals of Tibetan Opera , and Annals of Tibetan Folk Art. This literatures helped to save and protect the national cultural heritages effectively.

After the founding of New China, efforts to Save the Life of King Gesar should, especially, be mentioned here. This is a great ballad - epic about an ancient Tibetan hero; it is the longest epic in the world. It tells about King Gesr and his followers' brave and resourceful struggles against evil forces. It also tells us much about ancient Tibetan society, including war, production, living styles, nationality, religion, morality, love and family, It is a virtual encyclopedia about the lives of ancient Tibetans, and of high aesthetic and academic value. This epic provides invaluable material for today ' s study of ancient philosophy, social science, history, culture, ethnology, religion and aesthetics.

In the past, Life of King Gesar was transmitted down orally. However, there was great danger that this cultural treasure would be lost. From the 1950s, the State began a series of measures to save this epic. After 1978, Life of King Gesar was listed as the State Important Scientific Research Project for the Sixth and Seventh Five -Year Plan periods. The Folk Literature Research Institute of the Social Science Academy of China and related regions and provinces, such as Tibet, Qinghai and Sichuan where this epic had left its traces all set up special leading groups and working teams for this work. These departments coordinated all work and research. They also organized related academic discussions and performances of folk artists. In Tibet alone, from concerned working departments had collected more than 180 editions for oral telling and singing, and 83 copies recorded in woodblock and handwriting. They put together a catalogue, including seven parts, 18 chapters and 149 stories, totaling 174 sections. They also had recorded 70 related stories from folk artists using more than 3,000 types; in addition, they found a batch of legendary ruins of King Gear, 11 original objects said once used by him, as well as 30 folk legends. These materials totaled an estimated 80 books with about one million lines containing 15 million words. To date, more than 20 books have been produced. Moreover, Collection of King Gesar Study, which fully demonstrates the fruits of this project over the past half century, was recently published.

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