Filling a gap in the literature, this volume explores the struggles and accomplishments of women from both past and present-day Tibet. Here are queens from the imperial period, yoginis and religious teachers of medieval times, Buddhist nuns, oracles, political workers, medical doctors, and performing artists. Most of the essays focus on the lives of individual women, whether from textual sources or from anthropological data, and show that Tibetan women have apparently enjoyed more freedom than women in many other Asian countries. The book is innovative in resisting both romanticization and hypercriticism of women's status in Tibetan society, attending rather to historical description, and to the question of what is distinctive about women's situations in Tibet, and what is common to both men and women in Tibetan society.
Janet Gyatso is Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies at Harvard University Divinity School. She is the author of Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary and In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Remembrance and Mindfulness in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.Hanna Havnevik is assistant professor at the University of Oslo and is the author of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns: History, Cultural Norms, and Social Reality and The Life of Jetsun Lochen Rinpoche (1865-1951).
Introduction Part I: Women in Traditional Tibet Ladies of the Tibetan Empire (Seventh to Ninth Centuries), by Helga Uebach The Woman Illusion? Research into the Lives of Spiritually Accomplished Women Leaders of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, by Dan Martin The Autobiography of a Medieval Hermitess: Orgyen Chokyi (1675-1729), by Kurtis R. Schaeffer Part II: Modern Tibetan Women Female Oracles in Modern Tibet, by Hildegard Diemberger Outstanding Women in Tibetan Medicine, by Tashi Tsering Women in the Performing Arts: Portraits of Six Singers, by Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy The Body of a Nun: Nunhood and Gender in Contemporary Amdo, by Charlene E Makley Women and Politics in Tibet Today, by Robert Barnett Contributors Appendix Index