Epic of King Gesar
The Epic of King Gesar (/ˈɡɛzər/ or /ˈɡɛsər/; Tibetan: གེ་སར་རྒྱལ་པོ, Wylie: ge sar rgyal po, ""King Gesar""; Mongolian: Гэсэр Хаан, Geser Khan, ""King Geser"", Russian: Гесар-хан or Кесар), also spelled Geser (especially in Mongolian contexts) or Kesar (/ˈkɛzər/ or /ˈkɛsər/), is an epic cycle, believed to date from the 12th century, that relates the heroic deeds of the culture hero Gesar, the fearless lord of the legendary kingdom of Ling (Wylie: gling). It is recorded variously in poetry and prose, chantefable or shuochang being the style of traditional performance, and is sung widely throughout Central Asia. Its classic version is to be found in central Tibet. Some 100 bards of this epic (Wylie: sgrung, ""tale"") are still active today in the Gesar belt of China, Tibetan, Mongolian, Buryat, and Monguor singers maintain the oral tradition and the epic has attracted intense scholarly curiosity as one of the few oral epic traditions to survive as a performing art. Besides stories conserved by such Chinese minorities such as the Bai, Naxi, the Pumi, Lisu and Yugur, versions of the epic are also recorded among the Balti of Baltistan Burusho people of Hunza and Gilgit, the Kalmyk and Ladakhi peoples,. in Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, and among various Tibeto-Burmese, Turkish, and Tunghus tribes. The first printed version was a Mongolian text published in Beijing in 1716.The epic is composed of a very large body of versions, each with many variants, and is reputed by some to be the longest in the world. Although there is no one definitive text, the Chinese compilation so far of just its Tibetan versions has filled some 120 volumes, more than one million verses, divided into 29 ""chapters"". Western calculations speak of more than 50 different books edited so far in China, India and Tibet.A Tibetan scholar has written:Like the outstanding Greek epics, Indian epics and Kalevala, King Gesar is a brilliant pearl in the world's cultural treasure and is an important contribution made by our country to human civilization.