Tibetan geomancy (sa dpyad) denotes a complex system of divination that has had the most profound influence on Tibetan culture. The designation sa dpyad or “examination of the land” generates the thought that the topography of an area is the only significant factor. However, sa dpyad includes various techniques a diviner applies to determine the right place for construction. These techniques are not only related to the place but also to time and timing. The diviner examines the place and assesses its characteristics, such as the shape of a mountain and the course of a river, as being suitable or unsuitable for construction. Furthermore, he calculates the zodiac signs, the elements, and other dimensions connected to time in order to decide the suitable timing: significant is the relation of the current year to the birth year of the future inhabitant. Some of these elements and dimensions are also put into relation with the place and they can be a decisive factor to choose the right construction site.
Glimpses of Tibetan Divination: Past and Present is the first book of its kind, in that it contains articles by a group of eminent scholars who approach the subject matter by investigating it through various facets and salient historical figures.
Over the centuries, Tibetans developed many practices of prognostication and adapted many others from neighboring cultures and religions. In this way, Tibetan divination evolved into a vast field of ritual expertise that has been largely neglected in Tibetan Studies.
The Tibetan repertoire of divinatory techniques is rich and immensely varied. Accordingly, the specimen of practices discussed in this volume—many of which remain in use today—merely serve as examples that offer glimpses of divination in Tibet.
Contributors are Per Kværne, Brandon Dotson, Ai Nishida, Dan Martin, Petra Maurer, Charles Ramble, Donatella Rossi, Rolf Scheuermann, Alexander Smith, and Agata Bareja-Starzynska.