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The Buddha and the Gods of War pt. 3: The Maitreya Chapel

(Continued from Part 2, or return to Part 1)

Just as an addendum to all this, there’s actually another large structure in gNyan Thog Monastery which has beautiful old 18th century frescoes. This is the Maitreya Chapel (dPyams Pa Lha Khang). Unfortunately I don’t know anything about this building, even the date of construction – typically, I failed to take detailed note of the wall-captions inside and thus don’t even know the subject of the frescoes in there. It’s also extremely narrow and poorly lit and for this reason it’s impossible to get any good photos of the interior. The frescoes are particularly interesting because they depict what are obviously rich stories filled with incident – princely courts, monks in assembly, wrestling matches, close battles. I hope to make a return trip to gNyan Thog Monastery this summer and hopefully get more information on these images. What I have, mostly just artistic highlights, are below.






  • Āryaśūra. Jātakamālā or Garland of Birth Stories. Trans. J S Speyer. London: Oxford U Press Warehouse, 1895. Ancient Buddhist Texts. 2009. Web. <>.
  • 邊強. 甘肅關隘史. N.p.: 科學出版社, 2011-12. Print.
  • 果, 伯. “青海年都乎寺毛兰吉哇拉康殿壁畫內容辨識.” 中國藏學 2 (2013): n. pag. CNKI. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
  • 才郎, 夏吾 [Sha Bo Tshe Ring]. 把總千戶滄桑. 黃南: 黃南州政協文史資料委員會, 2010. Print.
  • 崔, 永紅. 青海通史. 西寧: 青海人民出版社, 1999. Print.
  • Kalsang Norbu (Skal Bzang Nor Bu), Zhu Yongzhong, and Kevin Stuart. “A Ritual Winter Exorcism in Gnyan Thog Village, Qinghai.” Asian Folklore Studies 58.1 (1999): 189. Web.
  • Gardner, Alexander, and Evan Yerburgh. “Shakya Rinchen.” The Treasury of Lives. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jan. 2017.
  • 龚, 景瀚. 循化志. 西寧: 青海人民出版社, 1991. Print.
  • sLob dPon dPa Bo, ed. sKyes Rabs So bZhi Ba’i rTsa ‘Grel. Zi Ling: mTsho sNgon Mi Rigs dPe sKrun Khang, 1997. TBRC. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
  • Nor Bu, Rin Chen. Bod Kyi Lo rGyus sLob gZhi bLo gSar ‘Jug Pa’i ‘Bab sTegs. Lan Co’u: Kan Su’u Mi Rigs dPe sKrun Khang, 1996. TBRC. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
  • sNyan Grags, bLo bZang. gNyan Thog Byams Pa gLing gi Lo rGyus. Zi Ling: MTsho sNgon Mi Rigs dPe sKrun Khang, 2000. Print.
  • Sturgeon, Donald (ed.). 2011. Chinese Text Project.
  • Tshe Ring, LCags Mo, and Gerald Roche. “Notes on the Maintenance of Diversity in Amdo: Language Use in Gnyan thog Village Annual Rituals.” Studia Orientala 113 (2013): 165-79. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
  • Tshe Ring, LCags Mo. “The Origin of Gnyan Thog Village and the History of Its Chieftains.” Asian Highlands Perspective 36 (2015): 242-50. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.



Radio Interviews at WPKN and maybe China Radio International

In other news, I recently did a radio interview about walking across Asia with Valerie Richardson on her show “Radio Something” on Bridgeport, CT’s WPKN. You can listen to it at, and I’ll try to get ahold of a MP3 file and post it here.

Very indefinitely, I may also be doing another radio interview / regular interview for some folks at Beijing’s Central Radio International (CRI) English Channel. I’ve recently been hanging out with some reporters from there, including a monumentally surreal evening at a song-and-dance-show in DPRK-run hotel-restaurant in near Chaoyang Park. (Who knew indentured North Korean girls were so amazing at the accordion?) In any case the highlight of the evening was the chance to meet up with the epic Central Asian wanderer and photographer Agustinus Wibowo. Strangely enough, I’d met Agustinus once before when I was sixteen in a hostel in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Agustinus is from Indonesia and speaks twelve languages, including Chinese, Farsi, Pashto, Russian, Kyrgyz and Uzbek. He’s a great photographer, wrote two books in Indonesian on Afghanistan and Central Asia, and has generally done some amazing things, my own favorite being a particularly epic trip hitchhiking on military horse-caravans up the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. He is also just a really nice guy and I recommend a look through his pictures and stories.

In any case, some or none of these people may or may not interview me at some point. I’ll update about that here when I have a better idea of whether it’s going to happen and when.