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Buddhadharma : Summer 2019
118 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY one name was drawn by the principal of the Jokhang Temple. The urn in Beijing would be in spiritual sympathy and legiti mate the choice. How often this method was actually used, and how essential it really was to acceptance of the choice, are among the enduring questions of the Golden Urn. Oidtmann is the first to supply a close calculation of the use, independent of the Chinese records (which show it was used regularly) and of the Tibetan records (which indicate it was used rarely). Oidt mann finds that between its initiation and 1825, the urn was used in about half of all affirmations of reincarnated teachers: seventynine confirmed uses in all, the last in 1909. Thanks to his skill in reading Tibetan and Manchu in addition to Chinese, Oidt mann is able to illuminate not only the event of the introduction—really, an adap tation—of the Golden Urn, but also the parallel narratives in Tibetan and Manchu that reveal a multidimensional interplay of strategic imperatives relating to Burma and Qinghai, local political motives, cosmolo gies, and incipient historicization. Con trary to conventional assumptions that the Qianlong interventions in identification were primarily in service of Qing strategic and political interests, Oidtmann suggests that the emperor was a believer, one whose motivation was primarily to improve the spiritual efficacy of the recognition pro cess. Also in contrast to some conven tional assumptions, Oidtmann finds that the strategic and political calculations may have been on the Tibetan side, as use of the urns became a channel by which Tibetan factions fought each other and were able to influence Qing court policies in Tibet, Qinghai, and Mongolia in their own turn. Qing dominance over Tibet in the eigh teenth century (and its inability to truly comprehend Tibetan culture) spontane ously reproduced the attitudes and episte mologies of colonialists everywhere, neatly coinciding with our analyses of the “ori entalisms” of European colonialism. For Tibet, the cultural and political institutions leaning on the Golden Urn practices pro duced the concepts of regional unity that underlie early Tibetan nationalism. Oidt mann carefully guides the reader in just how the present PRC government manip ulates very similar tropes to those used by the Qing—particularly those relating to the benevolent guidance China offers presentday Tibet. Works like this are unusual in Qing stud ies (and rare in Chinese studies generally) because of the linguistic skills required, so there are few books that compare in topi cal focus. Oidtmann’s command of detail is astonishing, and the story is told with vivid drama. And though his skills permit his close reading of documents, Oidtmann’s posture is less that of an insider to Bud dhism and to Tibet, and more that of a historian attempting to dispassionately sort out the simultaneous narrative threads of the Chinese, Tibetan, and Manchu docu ments. The book is a distinct contribution not only to Chinese studies but to Inner Asian and Buddhist studies as well. PAMELA KYLE CROSSLEY is a professor of history and Asian and Middle Eastern studies at Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire. She is the author of The Wobbling Pivot: China Since 1800, An Intrepretive History.