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Peaks and lamas
A Classic Book on Mountaineering, Buddhism and Tibet
Pallis Marco

Editeur - Casa editrice



Città - Town - Ville


Anno - Date de Parution


Titolo originale

Peaks and Lamas: A Classic Book on Mountaineering, Buddhism and Tibet

Lingua - language - langue


Ristampa - Réédition - Reprint

Shoemaker & Hoard 2005

Amazon.fr (France) -  commandez ce livre
Cimes et lamas. Peaks and lamas

Peaks and lamas  

Marco Pallis made several hiking treks with a number of companions into remote Himalayan regions in the 1930's. Primarily, this book is a narrative of those journeys.
You will most likely not be able to find a writer in English today who can write so well, with such precision and yet lightness. Mr. Pallis takes us into the mountains of Ladakh and Sikkim, with an observant eye that can identify even the rare flowers along the path. An excellent chapter by his fellow traveler C.F.Kirkus gives us a first-hand account of a mountain-climbing experience that tested the nerves of the climbers and left them exhausted.

The author's prose has true elegance, yet it is limpid and direct, so that the reader can easily imagine the delights of the almost pristine Himalayan mountain valleys and passes through which the explorers passed. We are given word-pictures of monasteries, remote towns, the interesting clothing worn by a mountain tribe, the landscape as one rounds a bend or climbs up a trail ... And the author weaves into this travelogue many observations about the beliefs and customs of the people he meets along the way. The sometimes vexing, sometimes humorous vicissitudes of traveling with porters and packs add lightness to the narrative. There are notes about the history of the region ... the reader quickly realizes how little we understand of this remote part of the world.
We are taken along a metaphysical path as well. One chapter is given over to an explanation of the Doctrine, as it is called among the Tibetans whom the author so admires. The Buddhist influence is seen in the context of the Tibetan (perhaps one should say Himalayan) beliefs that take the reader into a world quite apart from our materialist concerns. In other chapters, Mr. Pallis discusses, somewhat in passing, the Tantra and the deities of Hinduism. His closing section on Tibetan art may seem esoteric to some readers, but will interest others who are specialists in that area.

A fine book, with some of the rarefied air of the Himalayas in it ... Remember, Marco Pallis was a noted Tibetan scholar; his book will probably not appeal to a weekend or casual reader. However, if you enjoy fine prose and good travel writing, and wish to gain a greater appreciation of the metaphysical underpinnings of Buddhist and Tibetan thought, you will like this book.

Introductory notes.
I. Ganges and Satlej-1933:
1. The birth of an expedition.
2. The pilgrim way to Gangotri.
3. Porters and Sahibs.
4. Central Satopant'h (by C.F. Kirkus).
5. The Ganges-Satlej watershed.
6. The Hindustan-Tibet road.
7. Riwo Pargyul.
8. Back to civilization.

II. Ladak-1936:
9. Kashmir and Purig.
10. Kargil to Yuru : symbolism of the Tantra.
11. "If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem".
12. The Bursar of Spituk.
13. Leh.
14. "Where rust doth corrupt".
15. The painter of P'hiyang and Spituk debates.
14. Painting lessons and leave-takings.

III. Afterthoughts:
16. The present state of Tibetan art.
17. Tibetan art (continued)--its connexions with the doctrine.
19. Tibetan art--dangers ahead.
20. Education in the borderlands. Epilogue. Ganges-Satlej. Ladak.

"Marco Pallis spent several years in the eastern Himalayan region, travelling and collecting a vast material concerning Ladakh, Sikkim and Tibet. The present book is the story of his first travells to this mysterious region alongwith his three companions Richard Nicholson, F.E. Hicks, C.F. Kirkus and Charles Warrien.

"The book is a major fruit of his travelling and has remained a standard book of reference and is now, after sixty years of its first appearance, reprinted is the best tribute to the competance of his travel writing and enduring nature of his observation.

"Marco Pallis travels in a world inhabited by divinities, monks and Lamas, by hosts of Gods, demons and spirits who, peopling the snow-capped mountains, the wind-swept plains, the rushing rivers and broad but lonely valleys of Ladakh and Tibet, are easily annoyed by intruders. A world where nothing is devoid of meaning if one can but interpret the signs to view the reality with the eye of faith.

"The book remains one of best travelogues ever written on this part of the Himalayas." (jacket)

Peaks and lamas. London: Cassell, 1939, 1940, 1942
London: Readers Union, 1948
New York: A. A. Knopf, 1949
Paris: A. Michel, 1955 [Cimes et lamas]
London: Woburn Press, 1974
New York: Gordon Press, 1975
Delhi: Book Faith India, 1995
Paris : Éd. Kailash, 1997


Recensione in altra lingua (Français):

Nous devons signaler un important chapitre intitulEThe Presiding Idea que l'au-teur y a ajoutEspécialement pour l'édition américaine, et dans lequel il s'est attachEEdéfinir d'une façon plus explicite le principe d'unitEqui est propre Ela civilisation thibétaine et qui la distingue des autres formes de civilisa-tions traditionnelles. Que ce principe se trouve dans la doctrine bouddhique, cela n'est pas douteux, mais une telle constatation est pourtant insuffisante, car, dans les pays autres que le Thibet oEelle s'est exercée, l'influence du Bouddhisme a produit des résultats três différents. En fait, ce qui caractérise surtout la civilisation thibétaine, c'est l'importance prédominante qui y est donnée Eun des éléments de cette doctrine, Eun degrEqui ne se renconlre nulle part ailleurs ; et cet élément est la conception de l'état de Bodhisaltwa, c'est-Edire de " l'état de l'être pleinement éveillEqui, bien que n'étant plus liEpar la Loi de CausalitEqu'il a dépassée, continue cependant librement Esuivre les vicissitudes de la Ronde de l'Existence en vertu de son identification avec toutes les créatures qui sont encore soumises El'illusion égocentrique et Ela souffrance qui en est la conséquence". Une apparente difficultEprovient du fait que l'état de Bodhisattwa. est, d'autre part, considérEcommunément comme constituant un degrEinférieur et préliminaire Ecelui de Buddha ; or cela ne semble guère pouvoir s'appliquer au cas d'un être "qui non seulement a réalisEle Vide, en un sens transcendant, mais qui aussi l'a réalisEdans le Monde même, en un sens immanent, cette double réalisationn'étant d'ailleurs qu'une pour lui", puisque la Connais-sance suprême qu'il possède est essentiellement "sans dualitE . La solution de cette difficultEparaû‘ résider dans la distinction de deux usages différents du même terme Rodhisattwa : dans un cas, il est employEpour désigner le saint qui n'a pas encore atteint l'ultime degrEde perfection, et qui est seulement sur le point d'y par-venir, tandis que, dans l'autre, il désigne en réalitEun être , et natu-rellement, elle a aussi un rapport évident avec la doctrine des A vatâras. Dans la suite du chapitre, qu'il nous est impossible de résumer complètement ici, M. Pallis s'appli que a dissiper les confusions auxquelles cette conception du Bodhisatlwa pourrait donner lieu Si elle était fausse-ment interprétée, conformément Ecertaines tendances de la mentalitEactuelle, en termes de sentimentalisme "al-truiste" ou soi-disant "mystique" ; puis il donne quel-ques exemples de ses applications constantes dans la vie spirituelle des Thibétains. L'un de ces exemples est la pratique de l'invocation, largement répandue dans tout l'ensemble de la population ; l'autre concerne particulière-ment le mode d'existence des naldjorpas, c'est-Edire de ceux qui sont déjEplus ou moins avancés dans la voie de la réalisation, ou dont, tout au moins, les aspirations et les efforts sont définitivement fixés dans cette direction, et que les Thibétains, même relativement ignorants, regar-dent comme étant véritablement les protecteurs de l'huma-nitE sans l'activitE"non-agissante" desquels elle ne tar-derait pas Ese perdre irrémédiablement. RenEGuénon, 1949
Marco Pallis : NEen 1895, ELiverpool, des parents grecs, fut dès sa plus tendre enfance bercEde récits sur la vie en Inde et vécut entourEd'objets d'art indiens. En compagnie des quelques-uns de ses amis, il entreprend alors sa première expédition dans l'Himalaya en 1936. Il fut avant tout un savant, un alpiniste, un botaniste et un musicien.

Ce premier voyage le mit en contact avec les Tibétains et la civilisation tibétaine. Il en entreprit alors un second, plus pour rétablir ce contact que pour les joies de l'ascension. Marco Pallis adopta alors le costume et les façons de vivre des Tibétains. Cet ouvrage décrit le fascinant voyage de l'Est El'Ouest aux confins de la chaû‹e himalayenne du Sikkim en passant par le Gange, le Sutlej, du Cachemire au Petit Tibet "Le Ladakh".

PREMIÈRE PARTIE : Gange et Sutlej
Naissance d'une expédition - Route des pèlerins vers Gangotri - Porteurs et Patrons - Le Satopant'h central - Entre le Gange et le Sutlej - La route de l'Inde au Tibet - Le Riwo Pragyul - Retour Ela "civilisation"

Au seuil du Tibet - Echec au Simvu - Le Cercle de l'Existence - L'Ermite et le Pèlerin - Missionnaires et papillons


Cachemire et Purig - De Kargil EYuru - "Si je t'oublie, EJérusalem" - Le trésorier de Spituk - Leh - "OEla rouille a détruit" - Le peintre de Phiyang et les entretiens de Spituk - Leçon de peinture et adieux - L'idée dominante


(Pallis Marco Cimes et lamas Albin Michel Paris 1955 )

Recensione in lingua italiana

Marco Pallis descrive una tangka di fattura squisita posta negli appartamenti dell’abate di Likir. Raffigurava Öpame, il rosso Buddha della luce infinita, assiso fra ghirlande e frutta come in “un dipinto di Crivelli" Pallis, 1939, 266.


Marco Pallis was born of Greek parents in Liverpool in 1895, educated at Harrow and Liverpool University, and served in the British army during the Great War. Later he studied music with Arnold Dolmetsch, and was much influenced by the writings of two great perennialists, Ananda Coomaraswamy and René Guénon, whom he visited in Cairo and two of whose books he translated with his friend Richard Nicholson.
In 1923 Pallis visited southern Tibet on a mountaineering trip. He returned to the area in 1933 and 1936, consumed by an interest in its traditional culture, and stayed in monasteries in Sikkim and Ladakh. He returned for a more extended visit after World War II. After visiting Ceylon and South India, and receiving the darshan of Ramana Maharshi at Tiravunnamalai, he studied under Tibetan lamas near Shigatse and was initiated, with the Tibetan name of Thubden Tendzin, into one of the lineages.
Pallis returned to England in 1950 and with Richard Nicholson and some other musicians formed the English Consort of Viols, a group dedicated to the preservation of early English music. Pallis made several concert tours with this group. On one such tour to the U.S.A. he visited the Abbey of Gethsemani (Kentucky) where he met Thomas Merton, with whom he had already opened a correspondence .

Marco Pallis wrote two books deriving from his experiences in Tibet: Peaks and Lamas (1939) which was reprinted several times and became something of a bestseller, and The Way and the Mountain (1960). They are a unique blend of travelogue, botanical lore, discursive essays on Tibetan civilization, and metaphysical expositions. In the former Pallis allows the reader to become familiar with the landscape,with its inhabitants and with the values which govern their lives without obtruding Western "interpretations" on his subjects. The second of his books, written in the light of a fully matured understanding of the Vajyarana, includes several peerless essays on such subjects as the "presiding idea" of Tibetan Buddhism, the institution of the Dalai Lama (on which any amount of nonsense had hitherto appeared), and Buddhism in Sikkism.

Pallis's oeuvre is unhampered by any assumptions about the superiority ofthe West; indeed, his books derive much of their insight from his adamantine opposition to the modern spirit and his receptivity to the lessons of tradition in one of its last strongholds. During his trips he enhanced his fluency in the Tibetan language, wore Tibetan clothes and mixed freely not only with learned lamas and geshes but with ordinary folk. He achieved momentary public attention for his role in the exposure of Lobsang Rampa. Pallis wrote many articles for the journal Studies in Comparative Religion, some of which are included in his last publication, A Buddhist Spectrum (1980). Marco Pallis died in 1990. Huston Smith wrote of his work,"For insight, and the beauty insight requires if it is to be effective, I find no writer on Buddhism surpassing him" .

His article, "Do Clothes Make the Man," can be found in, Every Branch in Me: Essays on the Meaning of Man.