• Lama of the Gobi: How Mongolia’s mystic monk spread Tibetan Buddhism in the world’s harshest desert

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    Danzan Ravjaa (1803-1856), officially known as the Fifth Noyon Incarnate Lama of the Gobi Desert, is perhaps Mongolia's most beloved saint. The Fourth had caused so many scandals that the Manchu Emperor banned his reincarnation. Consequently, when the young child was enthroned as the Fifth, the Emperor issued an edict of execution on the boy and all associated with the event. The child was only saved by the personal intervention of the Panchen Lama and a letter of appeal from the young Ninth Dalai Lama. Their efforts proved well worthwhile, for the boy went on to become one of the greatest mystics and creative geniuses of 19th-century Mongolia.

    Lama of the Gobi is an investigative account of the life and times of this extraordinary man. It takes the reader on a journey through Mongolian history, Tibetan Buddhism and the traditions of nomadic culture, to generate an appreciation of the man and the legends that surround him. This revealing story winds its way from Danzan Ravjaa’s mythic past until the present day – as the people of the Gobi Desert still faithfully maintain his cult-like status.

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    Preface & Introduction

  • Paper Horses: Traditional Woodblock Prints of Gods from Northern China

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    In 2020 a large album of “paper horses” – prayer prints of Chinese gods – appeared for sale. How had these fragile things, cheaply printed in the 1940s and meant to be ritually burned soon after purchase, survived intact for so long? And how come there were at least three other identical sets in collections around the world?

    In answering this mystery, author David Leffman explores the history and techniques behind traditional Chinese woodblock printing, which dates back to at least the Tang dynasty (618-907). All 93 “paper horses” in the original album are reproduced alongside biographies of the gods, spirits and demons depicted, providing an illustrated introduction to the complex and fascinating world of Chinese folk religion.

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    Introduction   Stove God   Qilin Bringing Children

  • Chinese Gods: An introduction to Chinese folk religion

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    with a foreword by John Blofeld

    Chinese gods: Who are they? Where did they come from? What do they do?

    Chinese folk religion is the underlying belief system of more than a billion Chinese people. Go into any Chinese home, office or restaurant and you will see altars, statues or paper ‘good luck’ images. And wherever there is a Chinese community there are temples and Earth God shrines. But what is the religion that makes sense of all these expressions of belief? How do these beliefs connect to Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism?

    Chinese Gods helps us understand the building blocks of this religion for which even the Chinese have no name – because the beliefs are so intertwined with language and culture they have no independent existence – and provides an in-depth analysis of 19 of the major gods of the Chinese pantheon.

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    Contents & Preface  Kuan Ti