George FitzHerbert


Departmental Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies; Course Co-ordinator for Tibetan Studies (fixed-term contract until 2022)

Faculty Address:

Oriental Institute



Research Interests:

Tibetan political, cultural and regional histories
The Gesar Epic
Tibetan national mythography
Religion and Patronage
Tibetan cultural relations with its northern neighbours
Bon, Buddhism and Dzogchen

Current Projects:

-    Member of the ERC-funded project “The Tibetan Army of the Dalai Lamas, 1642–1959” (TibArmy), hosted in Paris by the  CRCAO, CNRS, and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), and the Collège de France (project leader: Alice Travers, CNRS)
-    Co-editor for a special volume of the Revue d'Études Tibétaines on Asian influences on Tibetan military history between the 17th and 20th Centuries (forthcoming March 2020).
-    Monograph on the Epic of Gesar.

Courses Taught:

-    1st year Tibetan Language: Spoken and Literary  
-    2nd Year Tibetan language: Literary Tibetan (‘classical’ and ‘modern’)
-    Tibetan History and Civilisation (two-term lecture course, 8 tutorials)
-    Classical Set Texts (Tibetan)
-    East Asia Survey (participating lecturer)

Forthcoming Publications:

- “The Geluk Gesar: Guan Di, the Chinese God of War, in Geluk Buddhism from the 18th to 20th Centuries” in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines (March 2020)
-  “Gesar’s Familiars: Revisiting Shamanism as a Heurestic for Understanding the Structure and History of the Tibetan Gesar Epic” in Kapstein and Ramble (eds.) The Many Faces of Ling Gesar: Homage to Rolf A. Stein. Leiden: Brill. (expected 2020)

Recent Publications:

- “Rituals as War Propaganda in the Establishment of the Ganden Phodrang State” in Travers, Alice and Federica Venturi (eds.), Buddhism and the Military in Tibet during the Ganden Phodrang period (1642-1959), special issue of Cahiers d’Extrême Asie, EFEO, vol. 27, 2018: 49–119.
- “Law and the Gesar Epic” in Pirie, Fernanda (ed.) Law and Buddhism: Principle and Practice in Pre-modern Tibet, special issue of Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie, EFEO, Vol. 26, 2017: 1-26.
- “Tibetan Buddhism and the Gesar Epic” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, online at
- “An Early Tibetan Gesar bsang Text” in Archiv Orientální, Charles University, Prague, no. 84, 2016: 1-60.
- “Constitutional Mythologies and Entangled Cultures in the Tibeto-Mongolian Gesar Epic: The Motif of Gesar’s Celestial Descent” in Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 129, No. 513, Summer 2016, pp. 297-326.
- “On the Tibetan Ge-sar Epic in the late 18th Century: Sum-pa mkhan-po’s letters to the Sixth Paṇ-chen Bla-ma” in Études Mongoles, Sibériennes, Centralasiatiques & Tibétaines (EMSCAT), no. 46, 2015. Online at
- “A Modern Version of the Birth of Gesar” in S. Arslan & P. Schwieger (eds.) Tibetan Studies: An Anthology. Proceedings of the 11th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Königswinter 2006. Halle: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2010: 215-254.

George FitzHerbert