Introduction

Tibetan texts concerning laws and legal practices are listed on this web-site.

The texts date primarily from Tibet’s medieval period, between the end of the early empire and the formation of the Dalai Lamas’ Ganden Podrang government.

THE TEXTS include summaries of these documents, their contexts, and source references, together with transliterations and translations of the most relevant passages.

THE BLOG posts contain some analyses of these texts, considered in their social and political contexts, together with thoughts on Tibetan law in general.

This site is the product of an AHRC-funded project, Legal Ideology in Tibet: Politics, Practice, and Religion.

Grags pa gling grags

This is ihstory of Bon in Tibet, probably created in or after the 12th century, drawing on earlier sources. There are several versions of the text, each consisting of a short passage in 25 lines, followed by a longer commentary.The texts describe the cosmic history of the world and the location of Tibet within it. They describe the Bonpo nature of the earliest kings and the problems that emerged when Buddhism was introduced.

The lDe'u chronicles

Two related texts, written in the thirteenth century, contain substantial sections describing the legislative and administrative activities of Songtsen Gampo. They are generally referred to as:

        Chos ’byung chen po bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan of lDe’u Jo sras (Jo sras)

        rGya Bod kyi chos ’byung rgyas pa of mKhas pa lDe’u (lDe’u)

bKa' thang sde lnga

The Five Chronicles is a treasure (terma, gter ma) text discovered by Urgyen Lingpa (O rgyan gling pa, born c. 1323). It was revealed in stages in the mid-fourteenth century, in last few decades of the Mongols’ Yuan dynasty. The Chronicles focus on the events surrounding Padmasambhava, but also contains other material. They recount the ancient history of Tibetan gods and demons, kings, queens, scholars, saints, and ministers.

Red Annals

The author, Tsalpa Kunga Dorjé (Tshal pa Kun dga' rdo rje, 1309–1364), was a member of the Tsalpa (Tshal pa) family, who were powerful in Central Tibet in the early 14th century. Kunga Dorjé spent a considerable amount of time in the Mongols’ Yuan dynasty court, where his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all served. In his final years he entered monastic life in Tibet and completedThe Red Annals in 1363.

rGyal rabs gsal ba’i me long

The Mirror of the Royal Genealogies was composed by Lama Dampa Sonam Gyaltsen, a Sakyapa religious scholar. It was completed shortly before his death in 1375. The author drew on many different sources and the text is presented as a compilation (bsgrigs). The text, often referred to as Me long ma, became very popular among both historians and Tibetans in general, and was frequently cited by later writers.

mDo dri med gzi brjid

The ʼDus pa rin po che’i rgyal dri ma med pa gzi brjid rab tu ʼbar ba’i mdo is a twelve-volume biography of Tönpa Shenrab Mibo, mythical founder of the Bön religion. The second volume contains the rGyal bus bka’ khrims bstsal ba’i mdo (Sutra of the prince’s law-giving). It probably dates from the late 14th century.