The hunt for the Ragya Kangyur

(23 April 2015) In collaboration with monks from Ragya Monastery in eastern Tibet, the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center Library, TBRC,  has digitally preserved an extremely rare woodblock printing of the Tibetan Buddhist canon: the Ragya Kangyur. This marks the end of a diligent, decades-long search for this exceptional (and exceptionally well-hidden) collection.

Tibetan Buddhist Kangyur, core Indian Buddhist canonical text collections, were translated into Tibetan from the late 8th to early 9th centuries and onward, re-translated, edited, and recompiled over the centuries, creating distinct canonical anthologies with textual variation. By the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the Kangyur was conceptualized as a unit of Buddhist canonical texts, and Kangyur collections were carved onto woodblocks starting in the 14th century. From the 15th century onward, with a peak interest in the 18th century in eastern Tibet, printing houses carved their own redactions of the Kangyur. The printing of these carved works served both as a display of wealth for patrons and monastery libraries, as well as acts of cultural and literary preservation.

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