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Himalayan Dialogue
Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal
Stan Royal Mumford

New Directions in Anthropological Writing

In the mountain valleys of Nepal, Tibetan communities have long been established through migrations from the North. Because of these migrations over the last few centuries, Tibetan lamaism, as one of the world’s great ritual traditions, can be studied in the Himalayas as a process that emerges through dialogue with the more ancient shamanic tradition which it confronts and criticizes.

Here for the first time is a thorough anthropological study of Tibetan lamaism combining textual analysis with richly contextualized ethnographic data. The rites studied are of the Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In contrast to the textual analyses that have viewed the culture as a finished entity, here we see an unbounded ritual process with unfinished interpretations.

Mumford’s focus is on the “dialogue” taking place between the lamaist and the shamanic regimes, as a historic development occurring between different cultural layers. The study powerfully demonstrates that interrelationships between subsystems within a given cultural matrix over time are critical to an understanding of religion as a cultural process.

Stan Mumford (1936–1993) was associate professor and chair of the department of anthropology and sociology at Albertson College of Idaho. His work has appeared in the American Anthropologist, Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly, and other journals. Himalayan Dialogue is the result of three years of fieldwork in Nepal, supported by Princeton University and by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

New Directions in Anthropological Writing
George F. Marcus and James Clifford series editors

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January 1989

LC: 88-040440 BL
300 pp. 6 x 9

The 1989 cloth edition of this book is out of print, but the paperback is still available.

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ISBN 978-0-299-11984-3
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