Thirteen Tibetan Tankas

Thirteen Tibetan Tankas

Thirteen Tibetan Tankas

Thirteen Tibetan Tankas

Excerpt

The Jataka tales or Buddhist Birth Stories ("Birth-iana" would be the literal translation of the Sanskrit plural), whence the scenes of these tankas or banners--so ably described by Miss Bryner--are derived, have been told in almost every important language of the globe since pre-Christian times, and even in some tongues now no longer used, such as Sogdian. The stories appear to have arisen in India out of Hindu mythology, folklore, and religion (e.g., the Mahabharata) preceding the Buddhistic reformation of Brahminism that was to sweep through India and finally take root elsewhere to the north, south, and east. Our tankas represent but a small selection from a vast literature.

The tales, however, attained their fame in their Buddhistic form. The fables of Aesop are now known to have come from India, stemming from these same Buddhist tales. The famous Christianized version of one of the Jataka Tales appears in the well-known spiritual romance of Barlaam and Josaphat (the latter name being the final corruption, via Persian and Arabic, of the Buddhist title Bodhisattva, assigned to spiritual heroes).

This version, aside from its recension in the Gesta Romanorum--a . . .

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