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Public defence: The origins and continued relevance of mountain deity cults in Tibet

Master Niangwujia at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages will defend his dissertation Mountain Deities in Northeast Tibet (Amdo): Narrative and Ritual in the Cult of A-myes sTag-lung for the degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD).

Doktorgradskandidat Niangwujia, vegg med teksten "det humanistiske fakultet"

Using previously unexamined textual sources and new ethnographic data, Indigenous scholar Ningwujia (Nyingbogyal) provides new insights into the essential and changing roles played by mountains and their deities among Tibetans.

Focusing on the origins and current practice of the Amye Taglung cult as it features in the vibrant cultural mosaic of the northeast Tibetan Rebgong region, his thesis shows how the circulation of written and oral narratives about mountains and their deities creates and reinforces belief in their dual role as sources of protection and prosperity and of misfortune. His analysis of both ritual texts and practices highlights the ongoing entanglement of and tension between Buddhist and non-Buddhist beliefs and authority in the mountain deity cult and its rituals, which play a critical role in balancing the contrasting roles of mountain deities. It also unfolds the political and social roles that the cult of Taglung has played in local history, as well as the changing cultural, ritual, and social practices of the lay communities and diverse religious specialists who have been brought together by – and reenacted – the cult.

By documenting and analyzing the cult of Taglung and its transformations over the past forty years, which have been driven by major political and socio-economic changes, this study shows how and why mountain deity cults have remained relevant to Tibetans in the twenty-first century.

Request a digital copy of the dissertation

The defence will stream live on 20 August, 9 am. 


Trial lecture

Designated topic: "Territorial cults in Tibet and adjacent areas: a story of decline or new possibilities?"

Evaluation committee

Dr. Charles Ramble, École Pratique des Hautes Études (first opponent)

Dr. Hildegard Diemberger, University of Cambridge (second opponent)

Professor Marcus Jacobus Teeuwen, University of Oslo (committee administrator)

Chair of the defence

Head of department Rune Svarverud


Professor Hanna Havnevik, University of Oslo

Professor Geoffrey Samuel, Cardiff University


Published Aug. 6, 2021 12:42 PM - Last modified Aug. 18, 2021 10:52 AM