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The Necklace of Zi (gzi yi phreng ba) is a fascinating anthropoligical survey of ancient Tibet, based on a lecture given by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 1975 to the annual meeting of young Tibetans in Switzerland. Some years later, The Necklace of Zi was published in Dharamsala in both Tibetan and English, immediately generating great interest for a completely new approach to the history and culture of Tibet.
With remarkable authority, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu emphasizes the originality and specificity of his people's culture. Citing ancient texts but also using illuminating examples from his education in Tibet, he refutes the almost universally accepted theory that reduced Tibetan civilization to a Himalayan appendage of Indian culture without even a form of writing of its own.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu traces back the emergence of his country's culture nearly 4,000 years and identifies the original Tibetan system of writing in the ancient Mar (smar) alphabet, from which the present cursive characters (dbu med) evolved. Besides the analysis of the Tibetan history and language, together with a short chronicle of the pre-Buddhist Bön, this text addresses in a simple but very meaningful way the crucial topic of the harmonious union of Dharma and politics.