Spreading word about region and its culture
Born and raised in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, Tsenten Tashi has been obsessed with Tibetan culture, language and history since he was young.
The 51-year-old said he is lucky to be able to make a living from enjoying what he loves.
But Tsenten Tashi has gone one step further than many Tibetology fans, conducting courses in Tibetan studies and helping spread awareness of the subject widely.
“I always feel like I amobligated to tell more people about Tibet,” said the director of the China Tibetology Research Center at Tibet University.
Tsenten Tashi said he aims to record and document Tibetan culture and history.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Tibetan language and literature from TU in 1985, Tesenten Tashi joined the school’s Tibetan history research center. He later earned a doctorate at Minzu University of China.
“We (at the center) are currently working on translating The Epic of King Gesar into Chinese,” he said, adding that the next move is to translate the epic into English to tell more people about the ancient Tibetan king and hero.
Tsenten Tashi’s work with Gesar dates back to the 1990s, when he participated in recording and documenting works linked to the story of the king with Drakpa, arhapsodist.
The Epic of King Gesar was spread via rhapsodists’ recitals and oral performances. But theywereilliterateandnotable to write down the epic.
The university’s Gesar research center, now under the China Tibetology Research Center, was founded in 1978. It is responsible for writing down the epic.
The center was able to record 25 episodes from Drakpa before he died and translated one episode into Chinese. Fifteen books have been published based on the rhapsodist’s narrative, and three more are about to be published.
Besides leading the center’s efforts to spread Tibetan culture, Tsenten Tashi also devotes himself to research on Tibet history and religion.
Over the past three decades, he has published 12 academic books on Tibetology. Some have become required reading for college Tibetology majors.
Tsenten Tashi has also conducted research on monastery administration, with the aim of providing theoretical support to monastery management in Tibet.
He also believes that mastering English is essential for Tibetology scholars.
“I ask my students to improve their English and never stop learning the language. I am so impressed by the collections in many international libraries, such as the Tibetan Buddhist documentation center in New York. Many collections are missing in China,” he said, adding that these works are valuable assets for Tibetologists.
Namgyal, Tsenten Tashi’s colleague, an assistant researcher of the China Tibetology Research Center at TU, considers himself very fortunate to be working with Tsenten Tashi.
“He led me through the door of Tibetan history. I was his student and work with him now,” the 41-year-old said.
“He is my model and good friend.”