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
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.