Research Project


Rope, Silver, and Lapis: The Unique Mythology and Prognostic Technique of ju thig

Dr. Alexander Smith

I am planning on working to translate significant sections of the Zhang zhung ju thig, a well-known but entirely unstudied collection of rope divination manuals attributed to the 19th century Bon scholar Nam mkha' rgyal mtshan. Due to diasporic pressures and the destruction of textual materials during the Cultural Revolution, this particular form of rope-divination is nearly extinct in modern Tibetan communities. In addition to producing a philological and historical-bibliographic article, one of the primary goals of my project is to publish data on the performance of ju thig while its few remaining practitioners are still alive. With this in mind, building upon fieldwork conducted during my doctorate, I plan to prepare an article focusing on the ways in which antiquarian divination manuscripts are interpreted by diviners in order to suit the social and ethical complexities of life in increasingly globalized Tibetan speaking milieus. Additionally, during my time at Erlangen University, I will begin to revise a version of my doctoral thesis for publication.

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