Abstract

The Gesar/Geser epic cycle is a warrior epic known throughout the Tibetan and Mongolian-speaking regions of Asia and is still largely sustained through a shamanistically tinted oral tradition. This article focuses on the epic motif of the hero’s divine descent and constructs both a “constitutional mythology” for the epic based on this motif and a reconstruction of the probable archaic core of the epic motif. It also focuses in particular on the representations of the hero’s sky-god father. The variability in the representation of this figure reflects the cross-cutting religious influences on this Silk Road epic. These range from archaic “native” Inner Asian traditions concerning sky and mountain gods, to Buddhism (and its debt to Indian Vedic religion) and even Silk Road Manichaeism.

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