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Lecture | LIAS Lunch Talk Series

Booju on the Red Hill: the Kangxi emperor's Manchu emissaries to Tibet and their role in shaping the relationship with the Tibetan government

Thursday 19 October 2023

1.04 (Verbarium)


In 1696, the imperial Qing emissary Booju arrived in Lhasa. He was a Manchu in imperial employ, while usually Tibetan Buddhist lamas would bring the emperor's letters. I will discuss how missions like Booju's were emblematic of a change in the Qing court's policy regarding Tibet.

Recent scholarship on actors in early modern diplomatic relations has drawn attention to the critical role that intermediaries fulfilled in structuring relationships and articulating knowledge about other localities. I will argue that the shattering of trust between the Qing court and the Tibetan government in the 1690s provoked within the Qing court a reconsideration of the choice for emissaries to Tibet, switching from “trans-imperial” lama-emissaries, at home in both Tibet and the Qing empire, to imperial agents.

Through examining the case of the Manchu envoy Booju, I will explore what the emperor hoped to achieve through the change from trans-imperials to imperial agents. Finally I consider how the choice for imperial agents such as Booju as envoys impacted the way in which the Qing court generated and evaluated knowledge about the region and government of Tibet.

About the speaker

Juul Eijk is a doctoral candidate at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies. His doctoral research project focuses on the intermediaries involved in the first century of the Qing-Tibetan relationship. His broader research interests include diplomacy of the Qing empire, historiography of the Qing expansion, the exchange and history of ideas, and Manchu studies. He is connected to the QingMaps project and recently co-authored an article on Qing-Afghan relations with Timur Khan.

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