Axu prairie in Dege County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, has been confirmed by Chinese experts as the birthplace of Gesser, the legendary hero of the Tibetan ethnic group.
The story of Gesser has been handed down for 1,000 years by Tibetan folk artists who sing and recite the ten-million-word ancient Tibetan folk epic, King Gesser, possibly the longest epic in the world.
The birthplace was confirmed by 14 experts in the study of Gesser based on first-hand investigations at Axu prairie in Axu Township of Dege County. The experts came from the National Gesser Office, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xibei (northwest China) College of Nationalities, Sichuan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences and other research institutes.
They believe that Gesser was born at Xiesuyageikangduo, in Axu Township, saying the landforms there tally completely with what is described in the epic about the birthplace of the hero. The name of Gesser's birthplace in the epic is similar to Xiesuyageikangduo in pronunciation.
Moreover, Gesser was born into a poor family and often grazed domestic animals in Dagun, Ranni and other places in Axu Township. All these are recorded in the epic.
So far, seven xylographed versions of King Gesser have been discovered in areas inhabited by Tibetans. Experts found that six of the seven versions come from Dege County and they confirmed that the Zhuqing Temple in Dege is the very place where Gesser's story was first performed in the form of Zang (Tibetan) opera.
Experts also discovered the ruins of the castles of Gesser's 30 senior generals and his wives in Dege County in addition to many literary quotations about Gesser. Dege now has 33 place names connected to characters in the epic, and all the county's 57 temples have Gesser relics.
Rinzin, an associate research fellow with Tibet Autonomous Regional Academy of Social Sciences, said that there were many Gesser research institutes in foreign countries, but they know nothing about Gesser's birthplace.
Having studied Gesser for a dozen years, Rinzin said they had discovered visual evidence that proved Gesser's birthplace was in Axu.
Yang Enhong, a research fellow with the National Gesser Office, said that their conclusions were based on rigorous research.
A historical fact is usually established on the basis of historical records, archaeological discoveries and folklore, Yang said, adding many historical books had records on Gesser's birthplace.
The investigation into Gesser's birthplace is one of the events to commemorate Gesser. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will also participate in these events scheduled to be held this year and next.
During their investigation, experts also found many historical sites relating to Gesser, including the capital of Lingguo, a tribe led by Gesser, the ruins of ancient houses, a tent in which Gesser once lived, castles and other facilities.
(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2002)