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Gustavus Adolphus College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


Traditionally, the night sky played an important role in the lives of Tibetans. Stars and constellations were used in navigation and in telling time. Folklore and proverbs surround these constellations and there are myths about the moon and planets as well. However, many of the stories that can be found today either originate in or are influenced by Indian culture. With the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, came Vedic texts on astrology, which had a profound impact on the culture of ethnoastronomy in the region. Adapted Vedic astrology, merged with practices from China, eventually replaced traditional ethnoastronomy. Because of the importance astrology has attained Tibetan culture, much is known about the topic. As a result, indigenous ethnoastronomy has largely been forgotten. What remains of the traditional ethnoastronomy is often found only from older generations, especially those from nomadic heritages. Through a careful untangling of the web of Tibetan astrological practices and traditions, some aspects of traditional Tibetan ethnoastronomy slowly emerge.


Asian History | Folklore | Other Astrophysics and Astronomy | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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