The Opening Arias of The Victorious Horse Race 

༄༅། །རྟ་རྒྱུག་རྒྱལ་འཇོག 

(Translated from Tibetan by Amalia Rubin)


Translator’s Introduction

The Epic of King Gesar of Ling is one of the world’s longest epics and a cultural treasure to communities in the Tibetan plateau, Mongolia, and beyond. The epic is divided into several episodes narrating the hero’s life and exploits. Some of these are nearly universal, while others are specific to individual locations and peoples. The horse race episode is one of the most universal, appearing in versions from Ladakh, Mongolia, Amdo, Kham, and so forth[i].  Although it is not the first portion of the epic, for many readers and listeners it functions as the major starting point.  The two preceding universal segments are Gesar’s གེ་སར་ pre-incarnation; and Gesar’s birth including his and his mother’s exile from Ling གླིང་།. Nonetheless, the horserace functions as a beginning of the Gesar epic in that it is the first section in which the lead character is known by the name Gesar, and also when Gesar becomes king.  The horse race is one of the most popular sections of the epic, featuring in numerous Tibetan-made movies and several children’s books.

To give a brief summary of the horse race, young Joru ཇོ་རུ་[ii] is approached by one of his patron deities, Nene Namen Karmo, a goddess unique to the Gesar epic. Nene Namen Karmo acts as Joru’s sort-of “divine aunt”, and functions throughout the epic as a messenger.   She advises Joru that it is time to return to Ling from exile and take the throne away from his pompous uncle by way of a horse race which he must convince his uncle to organize. Along the way, he collects the tools he needs to be a successful king and conqueror, performs numerous acts of magic, and reveals himself to the nobles of Ling, most of whom swear their fealty to him. Finally, he wins the horse race, discards his appearance as a poor child, transforms into Gesar, the King of Ling, and takes the hand of the lady Sengjam Drukmo སེང་ལྕམ་འབྲུག་མོ་ in marriage.  Finally, in a comic rebuke to his uncle, he reveals that it was he who fooled his uncle into arranging the race in the first place.

In most versions of the Gesar epic, all the characters are considered emanations of or in direct relation to different Buddhist deities or Bodhisattvas.  Many arias, including the segments translated below, begin with dedications to patron deities, similar to the start of Buddhist texts.

Although the Gesar recitation tradition is largely a bardic tradition passed on orally; especially in recent years, printed books have become very popular.  Tibetan bookstores inevitably will have a shelf devoted to different segments and versions of the epic.

Nonetheless, the sung epic remains immensely popular.  Babdrung འབབ་སྒྲུང་།, or trance bards, are recognized by the government authorities and publicly celebrated. Even during government-sponsored events that do not relate to Gesar, the Babdrung are often adorned with sashes to denote their status.

Like operas in the West, Gesar recitation is split into recitative and arias.  However, in the West, the plot is generally carried by the recitative while the emotions are expressed by the arias, while in the Gesar epic virtually all of the plot is expressed in the arias.

In the following, I translate only the arias from the first chapter of The Horse Race.  After the aria translations, I have included a brief, but detailed, summary of the plot.  Among casual Gesar readers, it is popular to take a book such as this one, and take turns singing the arias, while ignoring the recitative. If the reader wishes to experience what a listener who only listens to arias would experience, I encourage them to read the aria translation and only then read the summary. Through this, it is easily demonstrated that while the recitative provides additional details, the plot is clearly laid out through the arias alone.

The following is the translation of the four arias included in the first chapter of Ta Juk Jal Jok རྟ་རྒྱུག་རྒྱལ་འཇོག[iii], or The Horse Race as compiled by Dorje Tsering རྡོ་རྗེ་ཚེ་རིང་ and Gao Ning 高宁, and edited by Chodpa Dhondrup གཅོད་པ་དོན་གྲུབ་ and Chabgak Dorje Tsering ཆབ་འགག་རྡོ་རྗེ་ཚེ་རིང་ in 1997. This text was published by the Minorities Publishing House or Mirik Pedrun Khang མི་རིགས་དཔེ་སྐྲུན་ཁང་ in Beijing and printed in Xining in 1998.


Translation Choices

Stylistically, I decided to translate the arias in prose, but attempt to split these into lines in the same manner as the original.  The arias in general have seven syllables per line, often with an emphasis on the odd syllables.  Occasionally lines will have eight syllables, which a singer will have to be prepared to adapt to the rhythm. Other versions of the epic may have up to nine syllables, but as far as I have seen the seven to eight syllables per line seems standard.

Although I considered trying to write the translation in iambic heptameter, the closest western rhythmic style to the couplets of seven-syllable alternating emphasis writing featured in these arias, I decided to rather concentrate on retaining as much of the original meaning as possible, since I doubt the readers intend to sing the English translation.

In order to maintain clarity in the English and reduce ambiguity, I have occasionally swapped the order of two lines.  English grammar structure is often the inverse of Tibetan grammar. Therefore, if I were to maintain the original order, it would be confusing in English.  As such, I decided to maintain overall accuracy of meaning and clarity over specific line order. Furthermore, when adding a word such as a noun that would be assumed in the Tibetan but unclear in English, I have added it in square brackets. However, when adding clarifying English grammar for grammatical structures that do not exist in the Tibetan language, I have simply written them into the translation.

Finally, I would like to extend a deep thanks to Ngawang Tenzin ངག་དབང་བསྟན་འཛིན་, Khenpo Gagyal མཁན་པོ་དགའ་རྒྱལ་,Drolma སྒྲོལ་མ་, Rinchen Dolma རིན་ཆེན་སྒྲོལ་མ་, and Norbu Kalsang ནོར་བུ་བསྐལ་བཟང་ for their assistance.


The Arias of Chapter 1 of the Horse Race


Sung by Nene Nammen Karmo ནེ་ནེ་གནམ་སྨན་དཀར་མོ[iv],  addressing Joru:

Lu a la la mo a la len

Lu tha la la mo tha la len[v]

I first offer this song entreating white Tara[vi] to think of me

the second offering I entreat Green Tara[vii] to think of me

the third offering, I entreat The Lords of the Three Families[viii] to think of me

If you do not know who I am[ix]

I am Nene Nammen Karmo

Nephew, son of the gods, Joru

child, heed me with complete attentiveness!

Listen! I have a prophecy as follows:

Do not remain here, go to Ling.

The goods and retinues of Ling Jyalo གླིང་སྐྱལ་ལོ།

the worker’s wares, the seven pairs of jewels[x], and so forth.

This year is the time in which you must retrieve them!

The antelope skin hat, the calfskin robe, the horse-leather shoes, and

The lucky riding crop shall be discarded!

It is time for the white helmet to be worn on your head,

it is time for the white armor to be worn on your body,

It is time for the shagreen leather shoes to be worn on your feet,

It is time for [the horse] Changgö རྐྱང་རྒོད་ to be ridden as your steed,

You shall take control of the black tent,

It is time for you to capture the royal capital,

It is time for you to control the golden throne,

For the sake of the essence of authentic meaning!

There, [you shall go] to your uncle King Trothung ཁྲོ་ཐུང་།,

You shall take on the manner of the essence of Red Hayagriva and

transform yourself into the appearance of a crow,

and thus issue a prophecy that a horse race must be conducted,

You will tell Uncle[xi] Trothung that he will certainly attain the throne!

Aside from this, whatever is needed, examine well

I, Nene Nammen Karmo

Just as the mouth is inseparable from the hand

Just as a shadow follows a body,

Just like the collar on clothing, I support you.

Son of the gods, you needn’t have a thought of doubt

May it go thusly into your heart, Joru my child.


Sung by Joru, pretending to be Hayagriva, to Trothung 

Lu a la la mo a la len

Lu tha la la mo tha la len

I bow to the feet of Red Avalokiteshvara[xii]

With this song, the 5 Buddha Families are in the lead,

Escorted by the assembled mamos and dakinis,

In the front are the assembled dharma protectors and guardians.

Listen here, Chief Trojyal ཁྲོ་རྒྱལ་[xiii]:

I have a prophecy of great importance!

If you do not know who I am,

From the immeasurable pure dharmadhatu,

From the very state of compassion and emptiness,

Intense compassion in a wrathful form,

My true nature is Red Hayagriva[xiv],

Emanating in the appearance of a crow.

Today, the two of us shall have a secret discussion.

It has been three years since you’ve made an offering to me.

There is an ancient Tibetan proverb:

“A lama without meditation and without dharma is bad,

A ngakpa without mantras and without sorcery is bad,

A tutelary deity without offerings and worship is bad.

Both the lamas of proud overly confident ones

And doubting students,

will have difficulty benefiting beings!”

Have you heard that, Chief Trojyal?

Now, you need not have any hesitation nor doubt.

The mistakes of the morning made out of ignorance,

should be corrected in the afternoon.

Bear in mind and do not forget to make offerings and praise

And by benefitting sentient beings, all shall be accomplished

If one gives one’s goods to others!

In this divine land of White ling

It has been three years since talking about having a horse race,

it has been another three years since talking about not having a horse race

This year you must arrange a horse race.

The day after tomorrow at the break of day,

Prepare all chang[xv] except for that of black grain[xvi].

Butcher all animals except for dogs[xvii].

All the kings down from Shipön སྤྱི་དཔོན་ at the top,

And up from Dzari Khamlep རྫ་རི་ཁམ་ལེབ་ at the bottom,

Invite all the guests of the sacred communities of Ling without exception

Tell them that White ling shall host a horse race

The distance of the horse race shall be delineated by Chief Trojyal,

However long or short, a distance shall confer in Ling.

Bring together all of White Ling’s possessions

Make sure the fastest horse takes the reward.

Ultimately, the khatag for the fastest is in Uncle’s[xviii] hand[xix]

The wares and retinue of Jyalo and

The karmic goods and seven pairs of precious jewels and so forth

Aside from Chief Trojyal, there is no other owner,

There is no [winning] horse except for Yuja གཡུ་བྱ།[xx]

True son, you needn’t have a thought of doubt,

Noble Hayagriva’s prophecy is without error.

Now, swiftly, swiftly make these things so!

And may Chief Trojyal keep these things in mind.


Sung by Trothung to his wife, Karag Sayi Sertso ག་རག་བཟའ་ཡི་གསེར་མཚོ། 

Lu al a la mo a la len

Lu tha la la mo tha la len

If you do not know this place

It is the fortress of Sipa Khogmo Rog སྲིད་པ་ཁོག་མོ་རོག་རྫོང་།

If you do not know who I am

I am the four-mothered chief Trojyal

You, Ragza Sertso རག་བཟའ་གསེར་མཚོ་[xxi], listen to me!

Do not sleep, get up!

Prepare to call the guests of White Ling[xxii]

For I have received a prophecy from Red Hayagriva!

It is time to throw out the rotten food

And prepare the new Derkha[xxiii]

He said to drop my old wife

And receive a new wife[xxiv], Drukmo འབྲུག་མོ།.[xxv]

Now listen diligently to the instructions of these words:

From this day forth

You shall no longer be seated

To the right of the golden throne.

You won’t be coming with all the good things.

On the mountains and realms of the wind

You shall [be relegated] to being a herder, using a sling

You go and see if that works for you!

For the entire day tomorrow,

Raise up brocade of white, gold, red, green, and so forth,

Quickly, raise flags and tents,

Arrange the gold and silver silk

Cushions on the throne and quickly make a plan.

From below the heavenly realm of the universal king[xxvi] all the way down,

Call to all the guests of the divine communities of Ling without exception.

Pile up tsampa and butter like a snow mountain,

Build up butter like stones on the mountains,

Let beer and tea rush like irrigation channels,

Offer portions of white and black meat [in portions of] entire shanks,

Offer platters of rock sugar and fruit,

Offerings that precious lamas should be glad of,

Wealth that noble chiefs should be pleased with,

Possessions that family and cousins would be satisfied by

Dogs and beggars are placated by charity,

The ordinary people will be amazed,

Like comparing a simple wedding to an ornate one.

These preliminary activities of my, Trojyal’s, words

You mustn’t forget them, and hold them in your mind, Danza ལྡན་བཟའ[xxvii]!


Sung by Karag Sayi Sertso to Trothung 

Lu a la la mo a la len

Lu tha la la mo tha la len

If I were to tell you who I am at the root

I am not from nearby, I am from afar

I am from the far away county of Danma རིང་བོ་ལྡན་མ།

I am the daughter of King Trikar ཁྲི་དཀར།.

During the days when I was happy,

The days when I was not old, but young,

the day when fathers and mothers come together,

I am the precious child of my beloved mother and father,

I am the chieftainess of the high status:

I am called Karag Zayi Sertso

Now, King Trothung,

To possess that

Sky-Iron Father-Dharma sword of Ling[xxviii] is difficult.

Getting the thirty heroes of Ling

To listen to what you have to say is difficult.

To answer as to which horse will be fastest

To win the wealth of the father of Jyalo is difficult.

To become close to that well-formed and well-born

Sengjam Drukmo through flattery is difficult.

Now as to the aforementioned prophecy,

Is it really a prophecy from sacred Hayagriva?

It actually looks like a portent from Joru!

Now, do not do a horse race, Trojyal.

Trojyal, the wealth of your parents

Should be kept for our son, Aten.

Chief Trojyal, do not waste this!

Do not arrange a great fete: be happy just to remain as is.

If you do these actions, you shall regret it.

I thusly entreat you, do not listen to that [prophecy].

I dare not make this request, but there is no other option.

May this go to Chief Trojyal’s heart.


A Brief Summary of Chapter 1 of the Horse Race

Translation of the Summary Stanza: In book form, each chapter often begins with a four-line stanza explaining the key points of the chapter. This is similar to the 19th century English books which would introduce chapters with “Chapter 12: In which Phileas Fogg and his companions venture across the Indian continent, and what ensued[xxix]”, for example.


Chapter One

Listening to the advice of The Most Noble Lady

Joru transforms (Disguises) himself into a crow

And to Takrong Chief Trothung

He delivers a false prophecy stating that there must be a horse race

A brief dedication to Padmasambhava follows. In order for Joru to gain the wealth, throne, and so forth of Jyalo, Nene Namen Karmo delivers a prophecy via dream to Joru that there must be a horse race. (The first aria in which she delivers her detailed prophecy to Joru explaining that he must go to Trothung and trick him into hosting a horse race in which the riches and retinue of Jyalo and throne of Ling are the prizes)

Upon waking, Joru explains his mission to his mother, Gagmo འགག་མོ།.  Gagmo expresses doubt that perhaps it is nothing more than a dream. She briefly summarizes their current poor condition and how they were exiled from Ling without pity to live in a wasteland. Joru assures his mother it is an actual prophecy and she shouldn’t worry.

With that, he goes to White Ling to the fortress of Trothung.  He takes the form of a crow and delivers a message to Trothung.  (The second aria, in which Joru pretends to be Red Hayagriva, Trothung’s patron deity.  He scolds Trothung for failing to give appropriate offerings and tells Trothung there must be a horserace to legitimize Trothung’s claim to the throne of Ling. He details the rules of the horse race, including that all citizens of Ling must be invited to participate, and assures Trothung that he is divinely assured of victory.)

Having said this, Trothung collects expensive offerings and gives them to “Red Hayagriva”. Joru’s emanation takes the offerings and flies home.  Trothung rises and sits on his throne and calls his wife, Kharag Sayi Sertso, to him.  He rudely tells her to listen to what he has to say. (The third aria, in which Trothung tells Sertso she is going to be left behind as his “old wife” as he will marry the lady Drukmo and greatly exaggerates what he is prophesied to receive.)

Karag Sayi Sertso says that she doesn’t think this is a real prophecy, but rather a trick by Joru. She says that if he follows through, he will come to regret it. (The fourth aria, in which Sertso restates the alleged prophecy and that she suspects it is, in fact, from Joru. She begs Trothung to change his mind and be satisfied with his current lot.)

Hearing this, Trothung becomes upset and violently insults Sertso. Sertso accepts these insults humbly and says she will prepare everything for the feast to announce the horse race.

What follows is a detailed description of the preparations, who is invited, and so forth. According to the rules that all citizens must be included, Joru is invited. Joru explains his intentions and plans to his mother and then leaves to attend the feast. Thus ends the first chapter.


Translations are excerpted from:

Rdo rje tshe ring, and Gao Ning. རྟ་རྒྱུག་རྒྱལ་འཇོག Rta Rgyug Rgyal ‘Jog. Edited by Gcod pa don grub and Chab ‘gag rdo rje tshe ring, Mi Rigs Dpe Skrun Khang, 1998.


Works Cited

David-Néel Alexandra, and Albert Arthur Yongden. The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling: The Legendary Tibetan Hero, as Sung by the Bards of His Country. Rider and Co., 1933.

Dorje Tsering རྡོ་རྗེ་ཚེ་རིང་། , and Gao Ning 高宁. The Victorious Horse Race, Ta Juk Jal Jok ༄༅། །རྟ་རྒྱུག་རྒྱལ་འཇོག. Edited by Chodpa Dhondrup གཅོད་པ་དོན་གྲུབ། and Chabgak Dorje Tsering ཆབ་འགག་རྡོ་རྗེ་ཚེ་རིང་། , Minorities Publishing House, Mirik Pedrun Khang མི་རིགས་དཔེ་སྐྲུན་ཁང་།, Xining, Qinghai, China, 1998.

Francke, August Hermann, and Suniti Kumar Chatterji. A Lower Ladakhi Version of the Kesar Saga. Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1905.

Verne, Jules. “Chapter 12: In Which Phileas Fogg and His Companions Venture across the Indian Continent, and What Ensued.” Around the World in Eighty Days, C. Scribner’s Sons, New York, NY, 1906.

Wallace, Zara. Gesar! The Epic Tale of Tibet’s Great Warrior King . Dharma Publishing, 1991.

Zhou, Aiming, and Jambian Gyamco. Thangka Paintings of the Tibetan Oral Epic King Gesar = Zang Zu Kou Chuan Shi Shi “Gesa’er Wang” Tang Ka. China Intercontinental Press, Beijing, China, 2013.



[i] A. H. Franke and Suniti Chatterji, A Lower Ladakhi Version of the Kesar Saga (Calcutta: Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1904)

Alexandra David-Neel and Albert Arthur Yongden, The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling (Rider and Co, 1933)

Zara Wallace, Gesar! The Epic Tale of Tibet’s Great Warrior King (Dharma Publishing, 1991)

Zhou Liming and Jambian Gyamco, Thangka Paintings of the Tibetan Oral Epic King Gesar (China Intercontinental Press, 2013)

And others.

[ii] The childhood name of Gesar

[iii] I have chosen to use phonetics, with Tibetan script after the first usage, for all Tibetan words and names. Being that Wylie relies on knowledge of the Tibetan script, I would rather use the script along with a phonetic option for those unfamiliar with the Tibetan alphabet. I recognize that these phonetics are not universal to all Tibetan dialects. For the phonetics, I have maintained any standard English spellings: for example, “Ling” is the widely accepted spelling of the kingdom, even though throughout eastern Tibetan dialects, it is pronounced “Lang.” Aside from this, I have chosen to use an anglicized version of the Yushu ཡུལ་ཤུལ་ dialect pronunciation. I have chosen this pronunciation for two main reasons. The first is that it is the dialect that I am most comfortable with and had the most discussions about Gesar in.  As such, I am familiar with the pronunciation. Yushu is a very central point for much Gesar work.  While this specific work was created by authors from Amdo, much of the ongoing Gesar research and discussions occur in Yushu. Secondly, while there is no universally intelligible dialect of Tibetan (to the point that these ‘dialects’ are arguably ‘languages’), for Gesar traditions in eastern Tibet, Yushu dialect is one of the most intelligible.  The Northern Kham dialect, used in Yushu, maintains a pronunciation that is very much in the middle between Amdo and Kham.  In my experience, travelling throughout the region, the Yushu dialect is understood in further southern Kham regions, such as Dege and Chamdo, and also further north into Amdo regions, such as Golok. As such, while not being universal, these pronunciations are quite recognizable across virtually all of the regions of Eastern Tibet that hold strong Gesar Traditions.

I have simplified and anglicized the pronunciation.  I have done this because I assume that any Tibetan speaker will use the Tibetan script as their basis of pronunciation. Therefore, these phonetics exist solely for those who do not read, and presumably speak, Tibetan.  As such, I have slightly simplified pronunciations to make them easier for the English reader.  For example, I have phoneticized སྒ་སྐྱལ་ལོ་སེང་ལྕམ་འབྲུག་མོ། as “Ga Jyalo Sengjam Drukmo” rather than the more accurate-to-Yushu-dialected “Garjyalo Sengjam Drukmo”, for the simplicity of English speakers.

My goal in doing so is to make it so that a non-Tibetan speaker will be able to discuss these characters and place names in a manner that will be understood by as many people as possible and will make the discussion of Gesar accessible to those who are interested but do not yet speak Tibetan.

Lastly, I recognize that there is no perfect solution for Tibetan phonetics in a way that makes it both accessible to non-Tibetan speakers and representative of Tibetan sounds.  Therefore, I ask for the readers’ patience with my efforts.

[iv] Also frequently referred to as Ma Nene Karmo མ་ནེ་ནེ་དཀར་མོ།

[v] This phonetic repetition occurs, in some variation, at the beginning of near all of the arias.  It signifies that we have moved from recitative into sung aria.  “Lu len” means to sing a song, while the intermediate syllables are mouth music.

[vi] སྒྲོལ་མ་དཀར་མོ Drolma Karmo, in the translation I have chosen to use the Sanskrit names of deities who are more frequently refered to in the Sanskrit while speaking English.

[vii] སྒྲོལ་མ་སྔོན་མོ། Drolma Ngonmo

[viii] རིགས་གསུམ་མགོན་པོ། Rigsum Gonpo, referring to འཇམ་དཔལ་དབྱངས། Jampalyang (Manjushri), སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། Chenrezik (Avalokiteshvara), and ཕྱག་ན་རྡོ་རྗེ། Chakna Dorje (Vajrapani), the bodhisattvas of wisdom, compassion, and power respectively.

[ix] This is the standard introduction in Gesar arias.  It is usually followed a few lines later with “if you do not know this place”, however in this case since the singer has come to the listener’s location, it is omitted.

[x] ནོར་བུ་ཆ་བདུན། Norbu Chabdun.

[xi] Biologically speaking, Trothung is Joru’s step-uncle, but he is refered to as “uncle” throughout the epic.

[xii] རྒྱལ་བ་རྒྱ་མཚོ། Gyalwa Gyamtso

[xiii] ཁྲོ་རྒྱལ་ a shortening of ཁྲོ་ཐུང་རྒྱལ་པོ་ Trothung Gyalpo, or King Trothung, using the standard formula of the first syllable of each word or name.

[xiv] [xiv] རྟ་མགྲིན་དམར་བོ། Tamdrin Marwo.  This is often written རྟ་མགྲིན་དམར་པོ། Tamdrin Marpo, but this text uses adjectival endings more common to Amdo and Kham, including བོ་ wo and མོ་ over the more Utsang style པོ་ po.

[xv] ཆང་ Traditional Tibetan beer brewed from barley, rice, or other grains.

[xvi] Considered a lesser grain.

[xvii] This refers to butchering animals for meat. Dog meat is taboo, so essentially this is instructing that all appropriate meats must be prepared.

[xviii] Interestingly, Joru is pretending to be a tutelary deity, but still calls Trothung “Uncle.” Not only would Uncle be a potential honorific in eastern Tibet for someone higher, and a tutelary deity would not have someone higher, but this also potentially gives away Joru’s position.  I do not know if this was intentional, showing that Joru is teasing Trothung by subtly announcing his own identity, or not.

[xix] A khatag is presented to winners, so the meaning of this sentence is that Trothung is guaranteed to be presented the winner’s Khatag: he is the prophecied victor.

[xx] It is implied that this is the horse Trothung will be competing on, but there is debate in other texts as to whom this horse belongs.

[xxi] རག་བཟའ་གསེར་མཚོ། A shortened form of Karag Zayi Sertso ག་རག་བཟའ་ཡི་གསེར་མཚོ། or Sertso’s full formal name.

[xxii] The kingdom of Ling is split into upper, middle, and lower Ling as well as districts by color. White Ling is in Upper Ling and could be considered the capital.

[xxiii] A container of barley, barley flour, sugar, butter, and so forth often used in celebrations. In this case, representing new food.

[xxiv] Although this is not mentioned overtly in the previous aria, it is implied among the “Goods, retinue, and wares of Ling” that this will include the hand of the daughter of Jyalo. Furthermore, at this point, Trothung is embellishing the story of the prophecy, in line with his pompous character.

[xxv] Ga Jyalo Sengjam Drukmo སྒ་སྐྱ་ལོ་སེང་ལྕམ་འབྲུག་མོ་ often shorted to Sengjam Drukmo or just Drukmo as above is the daughter of the ruler of Jyalo.  Thus her hand in marriage is included as the prize within the “wares and retinue of Jyalo.”

[xxvi] འཁོར་ལོ་རྒྱལ་པོ། Khorlo Gyalpo

[xxvii]ལྡན་བཟའ། Another name for Sertso, meaning lady of Danma.

[xxviii] Much like the hand of Drukmo in marriage, the sword of Ling is a symbolically important object that would be implied to be included in the “people and wares of Ling.”

[xxix] Verne, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days. Chapter 12, New York, C. Scribner’s sons, 1906.


Amalia Rubin originally hails from Upstate, NY in the USA. She is a Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds, researching the Epic of King Gesar of Ling as a Reality Framing Story in the lives of young Tibetans in Eastern Tibet. She completed her Master’s Degree from the University of Washington in 2015 on Revival of Indigenous Practices and Identity in the 21st Century Inner Asia, comparing the revival of Shamanism in Mongolia and Gesar practices in Tibetan society. Ms. Rubin currently resides in Kathmandu, Nepal.  In her spare time, she is an interpreter and professional blues vocalist.

Chodpa Dhondrup གཅོད་པ་དོན་གྲུབ་ 角巴东主 is an author, scholar, and renowned Gesar researcher.  Dhondrup was born in 1950 in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.  He graduated from Qinghai University for Nationalities in 1978.  In addition to teaching about Tibetan culture, literature, and language as well as translating poetry between Tibetan and Chinese, Dhondrup has travelled the world to lecture on Tibetan literature and culture. Furthermore, he has served as the chairman of the Chinese Society for Study of the Gesar Epic ཀྲུང་གོའི 《གེ་སར་སྒྲུང་།》སློབ་ཚོགས.  He has published numerous texts and continues to research and lecture. He is currently based in Xining.