Contemporary Buddhism 11 (1):1-26 (2010)

In the Theravada Buddhism of the Shan peoples of northern Burma and Thailand, the main medium for the transmission of complex teachings is an elaborate form of poetry. The scholars who preserve and perform the readings of such teachings are called zare. Mostly they are laymen, although some are women and a few are monks. This article examines how the zare acquire their extraordinary erudition, the challenges confronting the tradition in the face of political suppression, modernity and minority language status, and the ways in which zare culture undermines common preconceptions about Theravada Buddhism.
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DOI 10.1080/14639941003791568
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