In keeping with aims of the BuddhistRoad project the present lecture will explore the relevance of the Silk Road in the establishment and presentation of Buddhism and Kingship in West Tibet. The end of the Tibetan Empire’s Pugyal Dynasty (Tib. sPu rgyal, 7th to 10th c.) and the beginning of the kingdom of Tö Ngari Korsum (Tib. sTod mNa’ ris skor gsum) in West Tibet is symbolically embodied in the escape of the royal son Kyi de Nyima Gön (Tib. sKyid de Nyi ma mgon, d. ca. 930) from the maelstrom of revolt and collapse in Central Tibet. As the bridge between old and new, Kyi de and his heirs carried the authority and legacy of the Pugyal Tsenpo (Tib. spu rgyal brtsan po) towards the Highlands of West Tibet (ca. 910). But this was not simply a direct transfer from Central Tibet to West Tibet, rather on closer examination of textual and art historical material it becomes clear that this transformation was one that was directly informed by the major Buddhist centers along the Silk Road, from Dunhuang and the Hexi Corridor in the East to greater Kashmir and the Wakhan Corridor in the West. In this light, the presentation will uncover a West Tibetan kingdom deeply influenced by the Silk Road.
David Pritzker is the director of the Pritzker Art Collaborative, Chicago, and is also a Research Fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago. Most recently he has co-curated the exhibition "Cultural Exchange Along the Silk Road: Masterpieces of the Tubo Period (7th – 9th Century)", with Wang Xudong, director of the Palace Museum and former director of Dunhuang Academy. The exhibition opened on July 2, 2019 and ran until October 22, 2019 at the Dunhuang Academy Exhibition Center. More than 461,000 people visited the show. He received his PhD from the University of Oxford with a focus on early textual history and historiography in Tibet. Since 1996, in collaboration with China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration and together with Sichuan University, Pritzker has been exploring, documenting, and researching early sites of the Purang-Guge Kingdom (Tib. sPu hrangs Gu ge, ca. 10th c.) in West Tibet.