The first four volumes of the carefully chosen works of King Gesar in the Tibetan language were recently published by the Chinese Nationalities Publishing House.
This is the most important literary work for studying the social, cultural and historical development of Tibet ethnic group and a major achievement in the research of Tibetan culture, said a Tibetan research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
The academy plans to publish 40 volumes of King Gesar with 16 million Chinese characters in total. It will take five years to complete the epic.
King Gesar, a Tibetan epic portraying the legendary hero Gesar, is believed to be the longest epic in the world. It tells stories of how King Gesar conquered the ghosts when he came to man's world and then returned to the heaven.
For generations, stories about Gesar had actually been told in ballads by folk artists.
To protect this outstanding epic from being lost, the CASS, the Ministry of Culture and the State Ethnic Affairs Commission formed a joint leading group on the compilation of King Gesar. The state has allocated special funds for its compilation.
To date, experts and scholars organized by the group have visited minority-inhabited areas and collected more than 100 handwritten and wood-carved versions of the tale told in Tibetan and Mongolian languages. Some have been published.
(People’s Daily 12/20/2000)