Martin Saxer is one of a number of researchers (others include Sienna Craig, Barbara Gerke, Theresia Hofer, and Stephan Kloos) who in recent years have made Sowa Rigpa or “Tibetan Medicine” a particularly interesting area of study. Sowa Rigpa shares many general features with traditional East Asian medicine, the various Indian and Southeast Asian medical traditions, and Greco-Arabic medicine, but it is unusual in that major processes of modernization took place much more recently and rapidly than elsewhere and are still far from complete. Today one can still find small-scale hereditary-lineage doctors practicing Sowa Rigpa in remote Himalayan valleys and making their own herbal medicine as part of a small-scale, essentially premodern moral economy. In Chinese Tibet, as elsewhere, though, the dominant form of Sowa Rigpa is taught in medical colleges, and treatment is based on standardized, factory-made pills (rilbu...

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