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Jul 15, 2016

In the 7th century, the Tang court in China sent Princess Wencheng off on a long journey to marry the king of Tibet. The princess was influential in converting Tibet to Buddhism, but her full impact and legacy has been contested by central authorities in China and Lhasa for over a thousand years (is this the world's longest propaganda battle?).

A few years back, I set off on my own travels to Tibet and in the eastern regions discovered a highly localized and utterly captivating version of the princess story. This story centered around her illicit love affair with a Tibetan minister and the birth of a child who later reincarnated to found a powerful line of local Buddhist masters.

My guest for this episode is anthropologist Cameron David Warner. He's a collector of Princess Wencheng stories, and a scholar who has a way of making the complexities of Tibetan Buddhism seem entirely relatable.