Knowledge and Context in Tibetan Medicine


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Knowledge and Context in Tibetan Medicine is a collection of ten essays in which a team of international scholars describe and interpret Tibetan medical knowledge. With subjects ranging from the relationship between Tibetan and Greco-Arab conceptions of the bodily humors, to the rebranding of Tibetan precious pills for cross-cultural consumption in the People’s Republic of China, each chapter explores representations and transformations of medical concepts across different historical, cultural, and/or intellectual contexts. Taken together this volume offers new perspectives on both well-known Tibetan medical texts and previously unstudied sources, blazing new trails and expanding the scope of the academic study of Tibetan medicine.
Contributors include: Henk W.A. Blezer, Yang Ga, Tony Chui, Katharina Sabernig, Tawni Tidwell, Tsering Samdrup, Carmen Simioli, William A. McGrath, Susannah Deane and Barbara Gerke

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William A. McGrath, Ph.D. (2017), University of Virginia, is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Manhattan College. His research concerns the intersections of religion and medicine in Tibet, and his dissertation is about the institutionalization of medicine at the Buddhist monastery.

Introduction: Navigating the Ocean of Tibetan Medical Literature
William A. McGrath

A Note on Transcription, Transliteration, and Bibliography
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

Part 1: The Vicissitudes of Meaning in Context

1 A New Sense of (Dark) Humor in Tibet: Brown Phlegm and Black Bile
Henk Blezer

2 A Preliminary Study on the Biography of Yutok Yönten Gönpo the Elder: Reflections on the Origins of Tibetan Medicine
Yang Ga

3 “Secret Medicine” in the Writings of Sanggyé Gyatso: the Encoded Esoteric Material of Therapeutics
Tony Chui

4 Visceral Anatomy as Depicted in Tibetan Medicine
Katharina Sabernig

5 The Modern Biomedical Conception of Cancer and Its Many Potential Correlates in the Tibetan Medical Tradition
Tawni Tidwell

Part 2: Medicine and Religion in Context

6 The Nine-Fold Magical Cord Cycle: Investigating ’Phrul gyi the gu brgu skor, a Wartime Medical Manual
Tsering Samdrup

7 Knowledge, Imagery, and the Treatment of Communicable Disease in the Vase of the Amṛta of Immortality: a Preliminary Analysis of a Nyingma Medical Corpus
Carmen Simioli

8 Tantric Divination and Empirical Diagnosis: a Genealogy of Channel Prasenā Rituals in the Tibetan Medical Tradition
William A. McGrath

9 Madness and the Spirits: Examining the Role of Spirits in Mental Illness in the Tibetan Communities of Darjeeling
Susannah Deane

10 Material Presentations and Cultural Drug Translations of Contemporary Tibetan Precious Pills
Barbara Gerke

Specialists interested in Tibetan medical traditions, as well as general readers curious about the intersections between traditional medicine and other intellectual traditions, such as history, religion, and science.
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