Rebkong is a valley in the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo, which is at the centre of a contemporary cultural renewal. Located at the north-eastern edge of Tibet, it has preserved lost traditions as well as giving birth to reformers and revolutionaries for centuries. The people of Rebkong have continually upheld the purest Buddhist ideals, even after successive waves of destruction have swept through their lives in the twentieth century.Dr Stevenson s astute observations of the Amdo Tibetans of Rebkong colours his inner journey and insights into the nature of life today in this incredible part of the world which is in such stark contrast with our modern dilemmas. On his visits to Rebkong, made while on anthropological field trips through the region, he met with stern lamas, hilarious monks, mad saints, painters, naughty school children, worried parents, beggars, carpenters, returning refugees, bus drivers and local officials. These fascinating characters animate these richly woven tales of hope, loss and national pride, in an area of the world that is rarely visited by foreigners and even more rarely documented.
Many Paths also reflects on what anthropologists do in the field, and what can happen when they get up-close and find not only what they were looking for but also the unexpected.
Dr Mark Stevenson is an anthropologist working in Tibetan and Chinese Studies. He lectures in Asian Studies in the Department of Asian and International Studies at Victoria University, Melbourne. He publishes his articles and translations in journals and academic monographs, as well as Buddhist magazines.