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 Shang Shung: The Source of Tibetan Culture

Image © Kim Bannister,

The extraordinary culture of Tibet, which started more than 4000 years ago in Shang Shung, the first kingdom of Tibet, has been transmitted from generation to generation for more than 4000 years and is one of the great treasures of human civilization. Its deep knowledge and understanding has been kept alive through all the centuries.

Many of the traditions of Shang Shung have been transmitted across the centuries by both oral and literary means. Knowledge of Tibetan culture, influenced by the Indo-Buddhist tradition which was introduced into Tibet between the 7th and 11th centuries, is traditionally classified into five major fields or sciences: arts and crafts, medicine, linguistics and poetry, logic and "inner knowledge" which refers to the the understanding of the relative and ultimate condition of the individual within his or her universe. It also includes a myriad of hidden and highly specialized esoteric instructions that can be considered as the real treasure of our planet. This treasure has been transmitted from generation to generation through all the centuries and is therefore still alive today. The Shang Shung Institute uses these five fields of knowledge as the basis for its areas of study and activity.

The ancient kingdom of Shang Shung once occupied a large area including Western and Northern Tibet with Mount Kailash at its centre. The study of Shang Shung is important if we are to understand the unique nature and the universal importance of Tibetan culture, past and present.


I hope and pray that all Tibetans and those who are interested in the future of Tibet and its culture, will help in whatever way they can to ensure the continuing survival of the authentic Tibetan tradition.

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu


Image © Kim Bannister,



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