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Shang Shung: The Source of Tibetan Culture


Image © Kim Bannister,

The ancient kingdom of Shang Shung once occupied a large area including Western and Northern Tibet with Mount Kailash at its centre. The study of Shang Shung is important if we are to understand the unique nature and the universal importance of Tibetan culture, past and present.

Many of the traditions of Shang Shung have been transmitted across the centuries by both oral and literary means. Knowledge of Tibetan culture, influenced by the Indo-Buddhist tradition which was introduced into Tibet between the 7th and 11th centuries, is traditionally classified into five major fields or sciences: arts and crafts, medicine, linguistics and poetry, logic and "inner knowledge" which refers to the study of Buddhism and meditation. The Shang Shung Institute uses these five fields of knowledge as the basis for its areas of study and activity.

I hope and pray that all Tibetans and those who are interested in the future of Tibet and its culture, will help in whatever way they can to ensure the continuing survival of the authentic Tibetan tradition.

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

Image © Kim Bannister,

The extraordinary culture of Tibet has been transmitted from generation to generation for more than 3000 years and is one of the great treasures of human civilisation. Today there is a real danger that this unique treasure may be lost. Therefore, the Shang Shung Institute promotes the knowledge of Tibetan culture in all of its aspects; religious, philosophical, artistic, historical and social in order to safeguard it and contribute to its preservation.




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