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Early Tibetan Printed Books

Lecture by Marta Sernesi (École Pratique des Hautes Études).

Xylographic book printing was adopted and diffused in Central Tibet in the 15th century. In recent years a growing body of evidence has emerged that allows to gain a fuller picture of the early printing projects, revealing a complex scenario with a multitude of agents and historical factors involved. In this talk, I will survey selected Tibetan editions from the 15th and 16th century, analysing their formal features, detailing their religious and political context of production, and assessing their impact on the printed works’ reception history. Thereby, I will illustrate different patterns of book production and circulation and highlight varying uses of the technology, questioning the relationship between manuscript culture and print culture, and discussing the impact of printing on Tibetan textual and intellectual history.