Materials for Modern Tibetan Studies
What's on this site
The materials on this website consist mainly of primary texts chosen to provide snapshots of history, culture and society on the Tibetan Plateau over the last half-century or so. Some are intended for people with a general interest in the region and its culture, while others will be useful for scholars and students carrying out detailed research into these areas. The materials are divided into three main categories: Literature, Films & Television, and Historical Documents. If you have suggestions for other translations that we could add, please send them to us!
Origin of Documents
The documents and images come from the regions traditionally inhabited by Tibetans that are now within China. Roughly equivalent to the Tibetan Plateau, these include the Tibet Autonomous Region (the TAR) in the west and, in the east, the Tibetan areas often referred to by Tibetans as Kham and Amdo (which are now administered by the provincial governments of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan). Most of the materials have been copied from private collections or libraries, or have been found online.
These online resources are designed to give you access to primary materials, so you can see for yourself examples of texts and images as they were produced at the time, with relatively little commentary or interpretation. Some of these are very rare, or have not yet been described in existing articles or books by historians and other writers. Other areas of the website give summaries, glossaries, or links to secondary articles.
If you need more information about an item, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project is part of the Modern Tibet Studies Program at Columbia, a project of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.
Films about Tibetans, Uygurs, and Mongolians have changed a great deal in the last six decades. The films we describe here are representative examples of different periods in the history of film dealing with these ethnic groups. Most may be called ‘Chinese,’ in that they are associated with the People’s Republic of China. The vast majority were first produced and distributed in the Chinese language and were funded by the state or by corporations working closely with the state. Even well into the 1980s, many films and television dramas with Tibetan characters were performed by ethnic Chinese actors. Since the early 2000s, increasing numbers of films have been produced by Tibetan directors, performers and sometimes technicians working without direct state interference, although feature films and television dramas still require official permission to be shot and shown.
This selection of historical materials from Tibet is designed to give readers access to primary documents of different types that illustrate modern Tibetan history at the basic level. Many will require specialist knowledge, but others will help convey a sense of more granular, local aspects of modern Tibetan history. The documents, few of which have been made public before, present examples from different areas of politics, administration, art, and media from the latter half of the 20th century onwards.
Writing by Tibetans in Tibet has flourished since the end of the Maoist period, and numerous journals, both official and unofficial, have appeared in Tibet since 1978 which showcase their work. This selection of translations of short stories, poems and extracts from longer works gives examples of some of the recent work by Tibetan writers in Tibet.