Tibetan hero epic “Biography of King Gesa’er”
“Biography of King Gesa’er” is a Tibetan hero epic with a form consisting of talking and singing. It is called “Jiawugesa’ertena” or “Gesa’er’azhong” in Tibetan, and spreads over Tibetan regions of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, and over parts of the Tu and Naxi region. There are 60 to 70 versions of Tibetan texts about it, and the words amount to over one million lines. It has been translated into diversified foreign languages, and is considered to be created in the 11th century. The epic describes that Gesa’er was incarnation of god of heaven. He could summon wind and rain, slay evil spirits and rid the people off evils. He was the male lion king who was known far and wide for his impressive strength. The epic not only narrates the heroic achievements of Gesa’er, and unfolds surging war spectacles, but also describes the ancient complicated relationship among nationalities and the tortuous uniting process, and reflects Tibetan people’s good wish and lofty ideals. It is not only an outstanding literary work, and it also has very high academic value. It is an encyclopedia for studying ancient Tibetan society, and it stands for the highest achievements of ancient Tibetan culture. It occupies a very important position in the whole studying domain of Tibetan culture.
“Biography of King Gesa’er” was mainly handed down by folk talking and singing actor “Zhongken” in the past, and different versions of it haven’t been completely collected and sorted out yet. In terms of the collected hundreds of hand written copies and woodcut copies, not including some unusual copies, it has stood out to be the longest epic in the world. After Liberation, a group of Tibetan books, translated Chinese books, restricted materials and collected research works about “Biography of King Gesa’er” have been sorted out and published successively, and there are such literary works as stage operas and serial TV plays revised according to the epic.