The Family and Legacy of the Early Northern Treasure Tradition

Jay Valentine


The Northern Treasure Tradition is well known as the scriptural and ritual platform for Dorjé Drak Monastery in Central Tibet. The historical accounts of this lineage most often focus on the exploits of the tradition's founder, Gödem Truchen (1337-1409), and his successive incarnations seated at Dorjé Drak Monastery. In this article, the biographical sources are revisited to produce a complementary interpretation of the early history of the tradition. The investigation focuses on the web of family and clan relationships that supports this community of lay practitioners through the late-fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and highlights the contributions of several unsung matriarchs and patriarchs of the Northern Treasure Tradition. This article also contributes to the ongoing study of the gradual development of the institution of rule by incarnation within the Nyingmapa Treasure Traditions through an analysis of the life of Sangyé Pelzang (15th c.), the first of the lineage to buttress his authority through claims of reincarnation.


Tibetan Buddhism; Northern Treasure Tradition; Jangter byang gter; family

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