Talk:Epic of King Gesar

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Untitled[edit]

I have added a section of the translation by Herrmanns (fascinating but in every sense havy book!) and the corresponding reference. Left the unreferenced-mark because I don't know the source of the remaining material in the article and don't have the time to check it. Nannus 22:21, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Merge from Geser[edit]

The article Geser seems to be about the same thing. Can we merge it in to this article? --HughCharlesParker (talk - contribs) 10:08, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

It's similar, and undoubtedly related, but it's not the same thing. The Epic of King Gesar is a Tibetan Buddhist text, the Geser Epic is a Mongolian Tengriist text. -- Takwish 19:09, 10 November 2006 (UTC)
But they are the same story. Surely that means that we should have one article about it. Of course, the differences, comparisons etc should be brought out in the article. --HughCharlesParker (talk - contribs) 15:34, 22 November 2006 (UTC)


I agree, they share the same story-kernel and could be merged. there are many versions in Mongolian (Heissig - Geser Studien 1985) and very many versions in Tibetan. Even within regions/traditions there is considerable narrative variation ( eg Hermman S. 1991 Keser versionen aus ladakh)

Etymology of the name of Julius Caesar[edit]

can someoen tellme what this link has to do with this article? im feeling pretty stupid right now, wondering what the connection is. i didnt mean to make the delete out of vandalism or anything Pirus 05:15, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Some people (many?) think that Julius Caesar and Geser are the same person. Or that Geser refers to Caesar (title) in general. This is evident from sources, but is not present in the Wikipedia text. -- Petri Krohn 09:58, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
that explains a couple things Pirus 05:09, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
FYI, I have a source from this claim in Nicolas Tournadre's Manual of Standard Tibetan.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 04:48, 22 December 2006 (UTC

the argument is that the title "gesar" comes, via a kind of chinese whispers across the civilisations of medieval central asia, from the greek title of the Byzantine emperor, Kaisar (ie caesar - also the etymology of the russian Tsar). This is supported by the fact that some bactrian coinage was found inscribed with the name Fromo Kesaro - who, it is believed, was a ruler in the region of Kabul in the 8th century AD, and was named after the byzantine emperor to memorialise a defeat of the arabs by the latter in the 8th century. The name then came into Tibetan, so the argument runs, as "Gesar Phrom", who is familiar as the archetypal "king of armies" who rules north of Tibet and is associated with the Turks in early Tibetan schematised geography. Gesar of Gling, the hero of the epic, shares this title 'Gesar' with this Gesar Phrom or Gesar Khrom, but he is not the same figure, since Gesar Khrom was a foe of Tibet, while Gesar of Gling was Tibet's champion. george fitzherbert —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.1.181.133 (talkcontribs) 04:20, 3 January 2007

Oral transmission[edit]

I've nominated the Oral transmission section for a POV-check as the prose is less than neutral, and the supporting citations sketchy at best. —Viriditas | Talk 12:55, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

It seems to me that the citations tag is more appropriate. Its not that the language is not neutral, it is that it makes claims that should be substantiated.Sylvain1972 (talk) 15:51, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Supposed Length[edit]

The claim appears twice that the epic has over a million verses and/or takes weeks to recite. For example:

"Combining the variants together, the epic is perhaps the longest literary work in the world, containing over 20 million words in more than one million verses. A given Gesar singer would know only his local version, which nonetheless would take weeks to recite."

First this combining of variations wouldn't be valid unless they are distinct stories with non-overlapping verse. Second, it's difficult to believe a person can memorize "weeks" worth of verse.

These statements need to be fact checked and references added. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.36.152.32 (talk) 12:52, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

Etymology[edit]

/Geser/, as the name of a legendary king, appears in the Zoroastrian Zend-Avesta, a text many centuries earlier than any Tibetan, Turkish, or Mongolian rendition. Etymologically, the phoneme /-s-/ in Old Persia always represents (when intervocalic) a proto-Indo-Iranian (and Vaidik) etymon */-ś-/, so that the protoytpe of the name should be (approximately) */Gaśar/. This has apparently no proto-Indo-European source, but may derive from Elamitic and/or Sumerian : the deity-name most closely similar in Akkadian texts is /Kišar/ (suggesting an identification of Akkadian "Kišar" with one of Bukhe Beligte's (i.e., Geser's) three older sisters, who were born from[1] their mother Naran Goohon's armpits and navel).

This does not appear to be a reliable source, and I have excerpted it from the article until someone can come up with a RS for the points made.Nishidani (talk) 21:44, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Li Lianlong's article is far too thin on actual sourcing to past and current Western philology to be a useful source on this (as opposed to many other interesting things he has to say). I do not think the following passage can stand:

Indeed, is has been proposed that the character of Gesar was based on the Roman emperor, which sparked interest in the epic among Western scholars in the 20th century, but this theory is now considered highly unlikely by many scholars.[20]

Li's source is Han Rulin (1941/1988), and on p.322 we read

Han criticizes the far-fetched claim that Gesar was Caesar of Rome. However, his criticism did not reach Gesar researchers outside China, who continued to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps (see Stein 1993:396)

I.e. he thinks, from reading the Chinese version of R. A. Stein. Recherches sur l'épopée et le barde au Tibet, (1959) (Xi Zang Shi Shi Yu Shuo Chang Yi Ren de Yan Jiu). Trans. into Chinese by Geng Sheng. Lhasa: Tibetan People’s,Publishing House. pp. 12-41), that Stein believes this nonsense.
The problem is, Stein says absolutely nothing of this kind, and his argument is that emissaries of the Kaisar of Fulin (拂菻) (i.e. the ruler of Byzantium) influenced the development of the epic in the 11th century(p.292-3). No serious scholar in the West in the last century,(most were trained in classical Greek and Latin) could ever confuse the Latin cognomen 'Caesar' as referring the Roman emperor (Julius Caesar?) with 'Caesar/Kaisar' as a title for successive rulers in Rome and the Byzantine empires. Unfortunately, from the language used, both Hulin and Li Lianlong appear not to understand anything of this. Indeed, they do not appear to understand that Caesar meant any ruler in Byzantium with an imperial title, and 'Rome' throughout the Middle East through to Central Asia had absolutely nothing to do with Rome, in Italy. So I will remove the section.Nishidani (talk) 16:11, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
I see what you mean, and concur.Sylvain1972 (talk) 17:01, 15 July 2011 (UTC)


A far king, often is more evocative. I remember the use of mongol “Khan” in medieval north Italy to see: Can-grande, Can-signorio, Can-grande, ecc, lords of Verona. They intended to recall the myth of "Gran Can", also the clothes of the mummified body of Cangrande were produced directly in Cathay and imported from venetian merchants. The Emperor of Ethiopia or the emperor of China have always evoked fabulous and fantastic tales in medieval Italy. Why not the same in central Asia….? The events of the distant Roman Caesar or a hellenized Scythian or Kushan king lost in the mists of time, or simply a more recent title “Kayser-i Rum” of Sultan of Constantinople (that is the same title of Tzar of Rus) are easier to mythologize than a closer king. --Andriolo (talk) 08:55, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

First Western Translation - what Language?[edit]

From the current text: "It was this text which formed the basis for the first Western-language translation, published by the Moravian missionary Isaak Jakob Schmidt in 1836.[78] A German translation followed in 1839."

So what language was the first 'western' translation? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 62.232.250.50 (talk) 14:14, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Russian. His Подвиги Гессер-Хана was published in St.Petersburg that year. This was then translated into German.Nishidani (talk) 14:29, 27 October 2011 (UTC)