Shépa: The Tibetan Oral Tradition in Choné - cover image


Bendi Tso, Marnyi Gyatso, Naljor Tsering and Mark Turin




  • Chinese
  • English
  • Tibetan


Paperback156 x 234 mm (6.14" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 234 mm (6.14" x 9.21")


  • AVLT
  • CFP
  • FNM


  • CFF
  • HBTD
  • 2GD
  • 2GDT
  • JFHK
  • JFSL
  • 1FPC
  • 1FPCT


  • LAN009010
  • HREL007050
  • LAN009050
  • SOC002010
  • SOC008020
  • SOC011000
  • LAN023000
  • MUS015000


    The Tibetan Oral Tradition in Choné

    • Bendi Tso (author)
    • Marnyi Gyatso (author)
    • Naljor Tsering (author)
    • Mark Turin (author)
    • Members of the Choné Tibetan Community (author)
    Shépa: ‘explanation’ or ‘elucidation’ in Tibetan.
    A form of oral poetry sung antiphonally in a question-and-answer style.

    This book contains a unique collection of Tibetan oral narrations and songs known as Shépa, as these have been performed, recorded and shared between generations of Choné Tibetans from Amdo living in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. Presented in trilingual format — in Tibetan, Chinese and English — the book reflects a sustained collaboration with and between members of the local community, including narrators, monks, and scholars, calling attention to the diversity inherent in all oral traditions, and the mutability of Shépa in particular.

    From creation myths to Bon and Buddhist cosmologies and even wedding songs, Shépa engages with and draws on elements of religious traditions, historical legacies and deep-seated cultural memories within Choné and Tibet, revealing the multi-layered conceptualization of the Tibetan physical world and the resilience of Tibetan communities within it. This vital and unique collection, part of the World Oral Literature Series, situates Shépa in its ethnographic context, offering insights into the preservation and revitalization of intangible cultural heritage in the context of cultural Tibet, Indigenous studies and beyond.

    Scholars and students in the fields of anthropology, linguistics, ethnic and minority relations, critical Indigenous studies, Tibetan studies, Himalayan studies, Asian studies and the broader study of China will find much to reward them in this book, as will all readers interested in the documentation and preservation of endangered oral traditions, intangible cultural heritage, performance and textuality, and Tibetan literature and religions.


    This trilingual publication is a remarkable accomplishment and a landmark publication in Tibetan studies, making research findings accessible to the community for whom Shepa is a living practice. This is a welcome first publication on the tradition of Shepa as it exists in Chone, in the Amdo region of Eastern Tibet. The collaborative team have contextualized Shepa oration as part of Tibet's rich tradition of oral narratives, and have meticulously transcribed the oral narrations that existed in the memories of the older generation. They provide readers with faithful translations, and preserve the joyous mode of storytelling that fills the grassland.

    Tsering Shakya

    Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia at the Institute for Asian Research, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia.


    Bendi Tso

    PhD student in Anthropology at University of British Columbia

    Marnyi Gyatso

    Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University

    Naljor Tsering

    PhD student in Ethnology, Southwest Minzu University, and in Tibetan History and Philology at École Pratique des Hautes Études, PSL

    Mark Turin

    Associate Professor, Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies and Department of Anthropology at University of British Columbia

    Members of the Choné Tibetan Community