Trade Between Tibet and the Tang Empire

Photo by Mapem Lanigan

Speaker: Li Yongxian, Associate Professor, former Chair of Archaeology, Sichuan University, Visiting Professor, University of Washington

Li Yongxian was invited to present his research on “Trade between Tibet and the Tang Empire” as part of the final event of the Himalaya Program’s Winter 2017 Event Series. The presentation was well attended by members of the UBC, Langara College, and Tibetan communities.

In his talk, Li Yongxian discussed the diffusion of cultural and traditional practices across the porous political border between Tibet and the Tang Empire over the course of two centuries. The custom of Zhemian, also known as “Red” or “Ochre Face”, was a facial makeup practice that originated in Tibet and soon spread throughout the Tang Empire. Li explained that Chinese opinions about Zhemian were divided: among the elite there was the idea that the practice was foreign and threatened the purity of Tang cultural identity, while ordinary people embraced the facial makeup. Li suggests that this idea of ethnic separation was an elite ideology.

During the talk, Li also addressed the manipulation of historical accounts that the custom of Zhemian was abolished, when archaeological evidence suggests otherwise

The talk was followed by an open discussion about the political implications of historical narratives.

This event was co-sponsored by the Himalaya Program, Contemporary Tibetan Studies Program, Asian Studies and Department of Anthropology

Photos by Mapem Lanigan


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