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World longest epic Gesar well protected in Tibet
    Date:09-06-2011 Source:tibet.cn Author:    

Three artists give narrative performances at the Mass Art Center of Nagqu Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Chinese government has attached great importance to the protection and inheritance of Gesar-the world longest epic, which has over 5,000 hours of audio recording of Gesar tales by now.

There are also many prints about the Gesar tales, including 120 in Tibetan, 25 in Mongolian, over 20 Chinese versions, 20 academic monographs as well as many versions translated into English, Japanese, French, etc.

During the 3rd Tibetan Cultural Forum held on August 20-21, Yang Zhijin, vice director of Ministry of Culture and vice-chairman of China Tibetan Cultural Protection and Development Association, gave a detailed introduction about the protection of Gesar.

Gesar, a half-human, half-god Tibetan king in the 11th century, once subdued the devils of other tribes and helped ordinary people escaped from their oppression. Since the ancient time, Tibetan people have continuously chanted poems to show their respect to King Gesar.

 Through collecting the different versions of Gesar, which was supplemented over time,  the King's tales have been finally published as the "King Gesar", reputed as the world's longest epic, and was added into the "Human Intangible Cultural Heritage list" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009.

The Chinese Central Government has made the collection, classification and publication of "King Gesar" as a key research project and set up special organs with large funds to intensify the protection and inheritance of Gesar since the reform and opening up policy in the 1970s.

Since the 1980s, academic institutions such as the Academy of Social Sciences of Tibet and Tibet University have been looking for Gesar artists and collecting audio recordings, said Tsering Phuntsok, director of research institution in Academy of Social Sciences of Tibet.

Sida Dorje, a 20-year-old sophomore in Tibet University, is a Gesar artist from Chamdo Prefecture of Tibet and the first Gesar artist receiving higher education in Tibet. He was able to narrate Gesar tales in his teenage and by now he can narrate 40 sections of Gesar. So far, more than 60 Gesar artists have been found across Tibet.

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