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Tales of the Golden Corpse
Tibetan Folk Tales
retold Sandra Benson

5 1/2 x 8 1/4 • 224 pages
ISBN 9781566566322 • paperback • $15.00

"Through these tales, the ethical principles of right living are passed on from generation to generation."
-- Jetsun Pema, sister of H.H. Dalai Lama


More Reviews »

Tales of the Golden Corpse is the first complete English version of the famous Tibetan folk tales told to a boy who has killed seven sorcerers in the defense of his Master. The boy must redeem himself by carrying a talking corpse full of wondrous tales on a long journey, without himself speaking a word.

These 25 tales of intrigue and magic provide the reader with a window through which to view ancient Tibetan culture. Within them you will encounter heroes and villains, fearsome witches, murderous demons and clever tricksters with a uniquely Tibetan humor. Songs, riddles, jokes, and sayings make the stories come alive as they unfold against the background of everyday Tibet - its farmers and nomads, kings and magical beings.

Sandra Benson is the author of the English–Tibetan Folktale Reader, the first collection of Tibetan folk tales used in English-language education in Tibet. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Media Reviews
"This collection of 25 traditional tales presents something of a marketing challenge, as it contains a few disconcerting elements. The selections are all told by a dead body, being carried on the back of a boy. There's a house of blood with a flag of human skin in one story; in another, someone is burned alive, and several characters' hearts are eaten by witches. But there are also tales of young love and true love, even if some involve awful deaths, too. Bad kings who tax excessively, and crop or water failures (attributed to demons) lead to sudden poverty (and death). It's a harsh life in Tibet (even royals herd and farm), but Buddhist values of self-sacrifice, honesty, and compassion also infuse these secular tales with hope. Typical folktale elements (strange births, magical powers, unlikely youngest sons, helpful animals) and even close parallels to European tales seem universal, while proverbs and poems woven into the stories add Tibetan flavor. The narratives are not always structured or resolved as one might expect, and readers must sometimes answer the question posed by the corpse-carrying boy at the end of the tale. Brief commentaries on each story provide additional data on Tibetan life and culture, as do the introduction and glossary. These fast-paced tales, like yak-butter tea, will not satisfy every taste, but specialists and those who enjoy the macabre and exotic will relish them." -- School Library Journal

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