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The Colors and Shapes of the Bla (Soul) in the Bon Religion of the Prommi of Eastern Tibet

visio conference, on zoom, by Wandejia (Ban de skyabs), Associate Professor at the School of Literature and Journalism, University of Sichuan

The bla is a major component in the set of vital forces an individual possesses within the belief systems of both Tibetan Buddhism and the Bon religion, as well as being a very important concept in Tibetan traditional customs. Although it is different from consciousness, namshe (rnam shes), which is the subject of reincarnation theory both in Buddhism and Bon, many scholars confuse bla with consciousness. The reason for this problem is that we have not yet fully understood the nature of bla as a key concept in Tibet’s ancient religion. To explore this conundrum, on the basis of relevant literature, I will analyze the colors and shapes of the namkha (nam mkha’), the thread crosses that feature in the funeral ceremonies of the form of the Bon religion that is followed by the Prommi people on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and explore the way in which the bla is understood in the Bon religion and among the Prommi themselves.