May the curd of g.yang mature: domesticated animals and allegorical representations of social hierarchies in Bon ritual literature


This paper will address the roles played by animalian symbolism and the theme of domestication in allegorical representations of social status across a variety of g.Yung drung Bon ritual materials. Following a brief introduction to divination and ritual in the Bon tradition, I will focus on the origin narrative of lug lha ba ‘bal chen, the mythological ‘first’ sheep, as it appears in the 14th century mDo dri med gzi brjid, as well as in a series of 18th and 19th century rope divination manuals. The themes that emerge from these materials will then be read against allegorical depictions of domesticated and undomesticated animals in broader ritual literature.