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09:04 Dec 18 2009

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Tibetan Epic Poem belongs to all mankind
08:52, December 18, 2009  


Researchers brief the media on their efforts to include "The Epic of King Gesar" on UNESCO's World Intangible Cultural Heritage List during a press briefing at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing on Thursday, December 17, 2009. (CRI online Photo)


"The Epic of King Gesar" is a treasure not only for Tibetans but also for all mankind, said Jiangbian Jiacuo, a prominent Tibetan scholar of Tibetan literature, on the sidelines of a press briefing at Beijing's Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Thursday.

Jiangbian said the inclusion of the central epic poem of Tibet and much of Central Asia on UNESCO's World Intangible Heritage List in September signified international recognition of ethnic Tibetan culture and deepened Chinese people's own understanding of the heroic story.

"The Epic of King Gesar" has shown the world that Tibet is not only about Buddhist culture, but also about more diversified cultural elements, Jiangbian said.

During the press briefing, senior researchers briefed the media on their arduous efforts to get "The Epic of King Gesar" listed as a world intangible heritage item. They said China would continue carrying out a series of measures to better research and protect the epic, the preservation of which has always been challenging because the story has only been passed down orally from generation to generation.

King Gesar's images and stories can be found everywhere on the Tibetan plateau in carvings, paintings, murals, woodcuts and embroideries as well as in the songs and dances of local folk bards. The study of the bards should provide the key to tracing the sources of the King Gesar epic, but it also will be the most difficult part of the research work because the bards are always on the move, according to the briefing.

As of today, more than 5,000 tapes have been made that record the songs or narrations of "The Epic of King Gesar" by folk artists. But they only account for half of the work, a researcher said at the press briefing.

Described as the Orient's Homeric epic, "The Life of King Gesar" is considered the longest literary work in the world. It was created more than 1,000 years ago mainly by Tibetan and Mongolian ballad singers. The epic tells the story of the ancient hero King Gesar who was said to have been sent to heaven to vanquish monsters, depose the powerful, and aid the weak while unifying disparate tribes. The story is widely shared among ethnic Tibetan, Mongolian and Tu communities in western and northern China.

"The Epic of King Gesar" was included along with 21 other Chinese items on UNESCO's World Intangible Cultural Heritage List in September. The result was announced at the fourth session of the UN agency's Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Source: CRI online
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