October 2006, Wiley-Blackwell
- A clear and comprehensive overview of Tibet, its culture and history.
- Responds to current interest in Tibet due to continuing publicity about Chinese rule and growing interest in Tibetan Buddhism.
- Explains recent events within the context of Tibetan history.
- Situates Tibet in relation to other Asian civilizations through the ages.
- Draws on the most recent scholarly and archaeological research.
- Introduces Tibetan culture – particularly social institutions, religious and political traditions, the arts and medical lore.
- An epilogue considers the fragile position of Tibetan civilization in the modern world.
List of Maps.
A Note on Transcription and Translation.
1. The Vessel and Its Contents.
High Peaks, Pure Earth.
Peasants, Nomads, and Traders.
The Tibetan Language.
2. Prehistory and Early Legends.
Sources of Archeological Evidence.
Children of the Ape and the Ogress.
Tibetan Religion Before Buddhism.
3. The Tsenpo's Imperial Dominion.
The Rise of the Tibetan Empire.
Later Monarchs and the Promotion of Buddhism.
The Empire's Implosion.
4. Fragmentation and Hegemonic Power.
Dynastic Successors and the Kingdom of Gugé.
The Buddhist Renaissance.
Mongols and Tibetan Buddhists.
Tibetan Buddhism and the Ming Court.
5. The Rule of the Dalai Lamas.
Monastics and Monarchs.
Between Mongols and Manchus.
Regency and Retreat.
Cultural Developments in Eastern Tibet.
The Life and Times of the Great Thirteenth.
6. Tibetan Society.
Property, Economy, and Social Class.
Government and Law.
Marriage and Kinship.
Women in Traditional Tibet.
7. Religious Life and Thought.
Propitiation, Therapy, and the Life-cycle.
Monastic Institutions and Education.
Tantrism and Yoga.
Major Orders and Schools.
Festivals, Pilgrimages, and Ritual Cycles.
8. The Sites of Knowledge.
The Speech Goddess's Mirror.
Formations of Body, Speech, and Mind.
Medicine, Astronomy, and the Divinatory Sciences.
9. Tibet in the Modern World.
The End of Traditional Tibet.
Rebellion and Exile.
The Promise and Peril of a Century's End.
Spellings of Tibetan Names and Terms.
- A clear and comprehensive overview of Tibet, its culture and
- Responds to current interest in Tibet's relations with China
and growing interest in Tibetan Buddhism
- Explains recent events within the context of Tibetan
- Situates Tibet in relation to other Asian civilizations through
- Draws on the most recent scholarly and archaeological
- Introduces Tibetan culture – particularly social
institutions, religious and political traditions, the arts and
An epilogue considers the fragile position of Tibetan civilization in the modern world.
"Kapstein's work provides a highly accessible and comprehensive account of scholarship on the subject, ensuring that his book will feature prominently on reading lists for students at all levels, especially undergraduates." (Religious Studies Review, September 2010)"The Tibetans offers the best single overview of Tibetan cultural history currently available, and it is highly recommended reading for students and professional scholars alike. It is surely destined to be the standard work of its type well into the foreseeable future." (The Journal of Asian Studies, December 2009)
"Kapstein has produced a finely textured work that can correct prevailing misconceptions and introduce the reader to the amazing complexity of what he calls the "Tibetan civilizational sphere." The Tibetans helps us better understand the historical and cultural forces that have shaped Tibet's destiny." (Traditional Yoga Studies)
"It has been a long time since Tibet scholars have had a text so comprehensive, well informed, beautifully written and majestically sensitive. This book is a ‘must read’ for junior scholars of Tibet and for lay persons with a general interest in the region; even those already expert in the field will find here much that is both entertaining and edifying." (The China Journal)
"An excellent book and it adds greatly to our knowledge of this fascinating people … I recommend this book strongly." (Educational Review)
"An authoritative but accessible work of erudition, well-designed for the undergraduate market." (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)
"It is a book that all scholars of Tibet and Central Asia, regardless of disciplinary focus, should read and control." (Asian Ethnology)
"This accessible book makes the latest research on Tibetan history and culture widely available and can be recommended as a standard introduction to the field." (Atlas Serials)"In the past, for largely geographical reasons, Tibet was isolated from the rest of the world, which meant that our country, people and culture were not only shrouded in mystery, but often gravely misunderstood. More recently, as interest has grown, scholarship concerning Tibet has improved beyond expectation, although it has often singled out narrow topics for consideration. In producing this substantial book, which takes a broad view of Tibetans and their civilization, within a long historical perspective, Matthew Kapstein has brought to his work the authority and clarity he has acquired through many years of friendship with and observation of the people of the Land of Snow."
—His Holiness The Dalai Lama
"Professor M. T. Kapstein's elegantly written The
Tibetans describes the Tibetan area, its inhabitants and the
richness of its religious and secular culture in a truly exquisite
and highly intelligent manner. It is an impressive achievement.
The Tibetans is in every respect a masterful survey in which
the political and cultural history of the enormous area inhabited
by the Tibetan people get their fair share. Every page of this
volume is informed by the author's profound knowledge and
understanding of the many facets of this unique culture. In my
opinion, The Tibetans will surely displace the earlier,
general volumes on Tibet by R.A. Stein and H.E. Richardson and D.L.
Snellgrove, and thus quickly become a modern classic."
—Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Harvard University