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Chinese version of Tibetan epic published


12:40, December 28, 2011

BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- A Beijing-based publisher has launched the Chinese version of King Gesar, a 1,000-year-old epic considered the crowning masterpiece of Tibetan folk literature.

The eight-volume series consisting of nearly 2 million Chinese characters was published by Higher Education Press earlier this month.

The new publication was compiled by more than 10 scholars from a government-backed King Gesar research body in northwest China's Qinghai province, Higher Education Press said on its website Wednesday.

It said the team recently translated one of the eight volumes, Life of King Gesar: Conquering the Pearl Dzong of Shangshung, and has edited versions of the other seven volumes made by renowned Tibetan specialists in the 20th century.

"The new publication has brought the translating, editing and research of King Gesar to a new level," said Chen Ying, chief editor of the epic's Chinese version.

Chen said the publication was jointly funded by the General Administration of Press and Publication and the Ministry of Education.

The epic of King Gesar, with more than 120 episodes and 1 million lines, is believed to be the world's longest. It tells how the demigod Tibetan king of the 11th century conquered the devils of other tribes and sought to help ordinary people.

The ballad has been passed down orally by singers, most of whom were illiterate herders or peasants from Tibet, Qinghai and Inner Mongolia who claimed they were suddenly able to narrate the lines after a strange dream or a serious disease.

Only about 150 Gesar singers are alive today, including Tibetans, Mongolians and some from the Tu ethnic group. China, in its three-decade campaign to preserve the epic, has made 5,000 hours of verbatim recordings of their singing.

The epic was listed on the World Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2009.


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