The 8th Cooperative Work Forum on Ancient Tibetan Documents held in Beijing
A Commemorative Happy Day China holds grand commemorative activities to celebrate the millennium of the Gesar Epic
On Oct. 17, 2001, delegates from more than 140 countries and regions unanimously agreed, at the 3ith UNESCO session, that the commemorative activities to celebrate the millennium of the Gesar Epic would be enlisted into one of the UN programs from July of 2002 to July of 2003. It shows an internationally affirmative recognition of the wisdom of the Tibetan ethnic group of China, and it is also an internationally affirmative recognition of those great achievements made in the collection, collation and academic research of documents of the Gesar Epic in China since the founding of New China, especially since its reform and opening up.
The Gesar Epic is a great encyclopedic work in the research of Tibetan ancient society and history It not only covers a very long history, a magnificent structure and vast volumes, but also has a rich content, extensive knowledge and widespread influence. The Gesar Epic is the highest accomplishment of the ancient folk culture of the Tibetan ethnic group, and a resplendent shining pearl in the cultural treasure of the world as well. It is also quite well-known throughout the academic world that the Gesar Epic is an important contribution of the Chinese Nation to the human civilization.
Since the establishment of New China, the old Gesar Epic has also regained its great vitality of artwork. China has paid great attention to the collection and collation of the Gesar Epic, which is a transcentury cultural project. Its scale is so extensive, the time used for the project so long, the number of people who have taken part in this project so large, its achievements so outstanding, and its influence so wide that this project is not only unprecedented in the history of Tibetan culture, but also even rare in the history of multi-ethnic cultural development of our country.
A scientific system of Gesar Epicology has taken shape, continuously being improved, enriched and developed. On July 18, 2002, a grand commemorative meeting was held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Ministry of Culture and State Nationalities Affairs Commission, etc. Mr. Li Tieying, President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, delivered a keynote speech entitled "The Cultural Innovation and the Culture to Be Innovated". President Li said passionately, "today we are gathering here in an enthusiastic and excited mind to commemorate the millennium of the immortal Gesar Epic in the histories of the Tibetan and Mongolian ethnic groups, which are also cultural gems of the whole Chinese Nation.
This activity is not only a great event in contemporary Chinese Cultural undertakings, but also a commemorative happy day of all the Chinese nationalities."
In his speech, President Li also highly praised the status and influence of the Gesar Epic in the history of Chinese national culture, and the great accomplishments made in the undertakings of the Gesar Epic.
Then President Li made an overall account of three different aspects of relationships between the culture of ethnicities and cultural development, between the culture of the people and cultural advancements and between the culture inheritance and cultural innovations.
Mr. Yasuyuki Aoshima, head of the UNESCO Bejing Office, said in his speech at the commemorative meeting that it is very important to stress the protection of cultural heritage of various kinds when the UNESCO carries on its important projects. The culture of epic being one of the forms of the non-material cultural heritage plays an important role in the human history. It demonstrates many aspects of anethnic group and their creational traditions. The Gesar Epic has a profound and extensive influence in the culture and the history where the Gesar Epic spreads.
Many colorful and meaningful kinds of notes and commentaries for the Gesar Epic are spread not only inGansu, Qinghai, Tibet, but also in those bordering countries, such as Nepal, Mongolia and Bhutan. This Epic, either in oral form or in written form, still keeps its vitality The UNESCO welcomes these commemorative activities, and also feels glad that the Chinese Government regards the Gesar Epic as one of the cultural expression enjoyed by all countries in Northeastern Asia, and as one of the greatest meaningful traditions of the world heritages.
Provincial and autonomous regional leaders concerned of Tibet, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, Yunnan, Inner-Mongolia and Xinjiang as well as those experts and scholars of the Gesar Epic have shown great interests and paid a great attention to the commemorative activities of the millennium.
They all consider that these activities are influential opportunities of promoting the development of the Gesar undertakings. People from different areas have shown such a great enthusiasm that various kinds of activities are being held according to practical situations.
Through the last ten days of June and into the beginning of July, 2002,Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province took the lead in organizing an academic investigation named "Meeting at Gesar's Native Place" which started the prologue to the commemorative activities to celebrate the millenary of the Gesar Epic. The activities lasted 16 days, and those experts and scholars who took part in this activity traveled over 4000 kilometers. They made an overall and thorough investigation of the circulation of the Gesar Epic in Ganzi region, of the relevant sceneries in the legends, and of historical relics and those cultural activities of a mass character relating to the Gesar Epic. Wherever they went, they were greatly impressed by the strong atmosphere of the Gesar Culture, and were deeply fascinated by the rich resources of the Gesar Culture.
From the 22th to the 2^th of July, 2002, the International Academic Seminar of the Gesar Epic was held in Xining, Qinghai Province, where both the Yangtze River and the Yellow River originate.
This seminar has great importance because of the commemorative activities to celebrate the millennium of the Gesar Epic. Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director General of the UNESCO, made a special trip to attend the seminar and delivered a speech brimming with warm feelings.
On August 1, 2002,the opening ceremony of" China Maqu First Tourist Festival of the Gesar Yellow River. Culture" was held in Maqu County of the Gannnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. This was the First Tourist Festival of Gesar Culture held in China that also helpfed the old Gesar Epic to march into the market and to become market-oriented. In the opening ceremonies, the inauguration of the Gesar Square, which is also the principal part of the Gesar Statue, was held. During the Tourist Festival of the Gesar Culture, thousands of Gesar ballad singers performed together with a magnificent and powerful momentum. The Xuanzi Dance was preformed by thousands of local people in an elegant and natural style peculiar to the Tibetan ethnic group.
In August, 2002, the traditional Shoton Festival was celebrated in Lhasa. Mr. Sangdrup and Ms. Yumei, famous ballad singers, performed the Gesar in Norbulinka. Their performance added new vigor to the atmosphere of the old festival.
In 2003, a more extensive, penetrating, and larger scale of commemorative activity to celebrate the millenary of the Gesar Epic will be undertaken. The old epic will become more splendid in the new century and in the new millennium.