Gesar’s Therapeutic Geographies


This article explores how practices of healing or information about medicine operate in the Gesar epic. I begin with a discussion of a few relevant examples from commonly known Gesar episodes, proposing that beyond being of significant interest in themselves, these stories may be rich sources for questioning how the category of ‘medicine’ may be understood in different contexts. I then introduce several lesser-known episodes that are explicitly focused on Gesar’s conquest of medicinally rich lands. The detailed medical information found in these stories provides insight into the role of professional knowledge more broadly and how it operates in an oral tradition. Finally, I examine depictions of healing landscapes in the epic that demonstrate ties to Tibetan writing on hidden lands (sbas yul), suggesting that they may offer us new modes of thinking about healing, embodiment, and nature.

In press in edited volume with Brill.