Materiality and Private Rituals in Tibetan and Himalayan Cultures

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 December 2024 | Viewed by 368

Special Issue Editors

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forlilpsi, University of Florence, via Laura 48, 50121 Florence, Italy
Interests: Buddhist tantric traditions; Tibetan Buddhism; magic

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor Assistant
Department of Religion, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA
Interests: Tibetan Buddhism; magic; secrecy; the grotesque

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue addresses the recent shift in the study of Tibetan and Himalayan Cultures that seeks to enhance the status of tangible materials in the conceptualization of ritual agency, especially in the private domain of Buddhist practice. One of the salient features of Buddhist practice is ‘entanglement’ (Barad 2017) with various objects that may include home-shrines, sutra boxes, postcards, clothes, effigies, protective strings worn on wrists or arms, tattoos, rings, prayer flags, printed texts, rocks or murals. These objects communicate a “more or less consistent systems of meanings” that contributes to establishing a self-programmed apparatus of ritual behaviour (Rambelli 2007: 2). As things intertwine with human lives, engagement with material objects reevaluates the role of experience as symbolic, object-centered bodily enactment, rather than a practice of motionless meditation (Rambelli 2007: 5). Objects legitimize bonds between humans and non-humans and, therefore, reconceptualize the notion of co-agency ascribing special value to the transformative power of objects (Gentry 2017). While most previous research has concentrated on materials employed for elaborate rituals or large-scale festivals conducted publicly for the temple-centric communities venerating deities institutionalized in the temples and monasteries, this Special Issue will focus on private rituals performed by individuals or small communities, independent of the state. These minority groups often employ objects for worldly related purposes, such as the propitiation of supernormal agents, (for example, ghosts, angry spirits, ancestors), divination, or fulfillment of wishes, all of which often come under the rubric of ‘magic/folk’ practice. On the other hand, within the scope of spiritual practice (sādhana), engagement with objects plays an important role in an individualized private worship, that may include (but not be limited to), smearing the ground with cow-dung, putting on special clothes, or burning incense. We are pleased to invite you to contribute a paper in the Special Issue of the international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal of Religions that intends to offer a new understanding of materiality and private rituals in Tibet and the Himalayas. Submissions are welcome from any methodological approach, including textual studies, anthropology, ethnography, and religious studies. Covering the time frame extending from the medieval period up to the present, we welcome papers that examine any tradition practiced within the Tibetan and Himalayan regions, including India, Bhutan, Nepal, the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan-inhabited areas of the PRC, and Tibetan/Buddhist communities around the world. Papers focusing on lay communities or marginalized ethnic groups are especially welcome. 

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but not limited to) the following:

  • Tibetan Buddhism;
  • Bon;
  • Buddhism;
  • Chinese Buddhism;
  • New religions;
  • Folk religions.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 200–300 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the Guest Editor, Dr. Aleksandra Wenta ([email protected]), and to the Guest Editorial Assistant, Amanda Brown ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer review.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Aleksandra Wenta
Guest Editor

Amanda Brown
Guest Editor Assistant

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Bon
  • Buddhism
  • Chinese Buddhism
  • new religions
  • folk religions

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Back to TopTop