by Rémi Chaix, Center for Himalayan Studies. UPR 299 – CNRS.
Located in the Kham region, the Dergé printing press, officially founded in 1729, is one of the most famous institutions in the Tibetan world, but its history remains relatively unknown, if not through the largely simplified versions of the kingdom’s historiographers. Historians have so far focused on publishing the two great collections of the Tibetan Canon, Kangyur and Tengyur, considering the date of foundation of the building (parkhang) intended to house the xylographic blocks such as that of the beginning of the project editorial. The examination of the prints produced from the oldest blocks (from the beginning of the 18th century) nevertheless makes it possible to trace the history of the first developments of the printing press and to analyze more finely the strategy of the House of Dergé in the establishment of a company participating in the influence of the kingdom. Put in perspective with similar projects in the rest of the Tibetan world during the beginning of the 18th century will show, moreover, how these editorial companies constituted not only a religious stake but also a political one.