The research focus of this sub-programme lay with religious formation in the context of imperial rule and its decline. Combining textual studies with extensive in-situ field investigation, Guntram Hazod’s research produced new historical evidence that has sharpened our understanding of Tibet’s assimilation of Buddhism between the 8th and early 9th centuries, when the religion was patronised by centralised royal courts.

Relying on historical-religious narratives from the post-imperial age, Hazod examined the role of Buddhism in the creation of a “Tibetan” identity and addressed the tensions that materialised when the older social structures intersected with Buddhist discourses. Drawing on Old Tibetan (i.e. imperial) and post-imperial material, Hazod demonstrated in detail how family affiliation, territorial order and old (i.e. pre-Buddhist)­ ritual traditions became connected, and how this, in turn, contributed to the formation of new social groups. Among other things, he addressed the role of aristocratic elites in the civil and military organisation during the empire period. Observations and findings from fieldwork in Central Tibet provided complementary data for examining the intersection of religion and ethnicity, and contributed new evidence in the field of Tibetan Empire studies. (For details, see the results of Guntram Hazod’s long-term research on the Tibetan tumulus tradition of imperial Central Tibet.)

An international conference problematising the conceptualisation of religion as separate from the social realm (The Social and the Religious in Imperial Tibet, IKGA, Nov. 2018) rounded out the thematic strand of this part of the project.



  • Guntram Hazod, Tribal Mobility and Religious Fixation: Remarks on territorial transformation, social integration and identity in imperial and early post-imperial Tibet. In: Pohl et al. (eds.), Visions of Community in the Post-Roman World: The West, Byzantium and the Islamic World, 300-1100. Farnham: Ashgate 2012, pp. 43-57. (PDF)
  • Guntram Hazod, The plundering of the Tibetan royal tombs. An analysis of the event in the context of the uprisings in Central Tibet of the 9th/10th century, Zentralasiatische Studien 45 (2016) 113-146. [Originally publ. in: Christopher Cüppers, Robert Mayer (eds.), Tibet after Empire: Culture, Society and Religion between 850-1000. Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute 2013, pp. 85-115.] (PDF)
  • Guntram Hazod, The stele in the centre of the Lhasa Mandala: About the position of the 9th-century Sino-Tibetan treaty pillar of Lhasa in its historical-geographical and narrative context. In: Kurt Tropper (ed.), Epigraphic Evidence in the Premodern Buddhist World. Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, 2014, pp. 37-81. (PDF)
  • Guntram Hazod, From the ‘Good Tradition’ to Religion: On some basic aspects of religious conversion in early medieval Tibet and the comparative Central Eurasian context. In: André Gingrich, Christina Lutter (eds.), Visions of Community: Comparative Approaches to Medieval Forms of Identity in Europe and Asia. Special issue of: History and Anthropology 26.1 (2015) 36-54.
  • Guntram Hazod, The lions of ’Chad kha: A note on new findings of stone monuments in Central Tibet from the Tibetan imperial period. In: Olaf Czaja, Guntram Hazod (eds.), The Illuminating Mirror: Festschrift for Per K. Sørensen on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2015, pp. 189-204. (PDF)
  • Guntram Hazod, Territory, kinship and the grave: On the identification of the elite tombs in the burial mound landscape of Central Tibet. In: Guntram Hazod, Shen Weirong (eds.), Tibetan Genealogies: Studies in Memoriam of Guge Tsering Gyalpo (1961-2015). Beijing: China Tibetology Publishing House, 2018, pp. 5-106.
  • Guntram Hazod, The graves of the chief ministers of the Tibetan empire: Mapping Chapter Two of the Old Tibetan Chronicle in the light of the evidence of the Tibetan tumulus tradition. Revue d’Études Tibétaines 47 (2019) 5-159.
  • Guntram Hazod, The ‘anti-Buddhist law’ and its author in eighth-century Tibet: A reconsideration of the story of Zhang Ma zhang Grom pa skyes. In: Vincent Eltschinger, Marta Sernesi, Vincent Tournier (eds.), Mélanges Cristina Scherrer-Schaub. Festschrift for Cristina Scherrer-Schaub [forthcoming]. 10.1080/02757206.2014.933107.