Synopses & Reviews
Classical Tibetan Buddhist scriptures forbid the selling of Buddhist objects, and yet there is today a thriving market for Buddhist statues, paintings, and texts. In Buddha in the Marketplace, Alex John Catanese investigates this practice, which continues to be viewed as a form of "wrong livelihood" by modern Tibetan Buddhist scholars. Drawing on textual and historical sources, as well as ethnographic research conducted in the region of Amdo, Tibet, Catanese follows the trajectory of Buddhist objects from their status as noncommodities prior to the Cultural Revolution to their emergence as commodities on the open market in the modern period. The book examines why Tibetans have more recently begun to sell such objects for their personal livelihoods when their religious tradition condemns such business activities in the strongest possible terms. Addressing the various societal and religious ramifications of these commercial practices, Catanese illustrates how such activity is leading to significant cultural and economic changes, transforming the "moral economy" associated with Buddhist objects, and contributing to a reinterpretation of Tibetan Buddhist identity.