Due to the disruption of our lecture series since late 2019 and the resulting cancellation of most of the scheduled events, we have been able to hold only two talks this year. In the absence of effective measures to protect our speakers and audiences, we began to implement these cuts even before the official declaration of confinement was made on 16 March. For the same reasons, the meeting of the Board of Directors and the Annual General Meeting have also been postponed until further notice.
All our activities will be suspended until the beginning of the new academic year, when, as far as it is possible to tell at the moment, we should be able to resume our programme of events according to official guidelines. The programme for 2020-2021, which is currently being prepared, will of course include lectures that have been casualties of the pandemic this year. We very much look forward to seeing you all again in our auditorium, where our team will happy to welcome existing members as well as anyone who is interested in the topics of our talks. We extend our warmest greetings to you with the now-consecrated formula – “Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.”
A multitude of ethnic groups in Nepal have preserved indigenous religions which have been differently penetrated by the Hindu religion, as by Tibetan Buddhism, and which have preserved their own characteristics. This seems to be the case for Chepang. From audiovisual and photographic documents recorded between 2010 and 2018, we will focus on the social and cultural aspects of this Chepang ethnic group, through its shaman, the only religious specialist in the community, in his relationship to the rites of life and rituals of death. They will be examined in a more global Nepali shamanic context, and will also be studied in relation to the contemporary transformations inherent to the evolution of all these minority societies.
There are a number of academic studies dealing with some aspects of the materiality of artistic expression, especially textiles and fabrics depicted on Tibetan paintings and statues but they are mainly concerned with early examples found at Dunhuang, Alchi and other locations. However, in later periods the relation between artistic depictions and their material reality was still of major importance for Tibetan art, being an essential part of its artistry and its socio-religious meaning. In this talk, I will mainly present paintings showing high Tibetan religious dignitaries and discuss the mode of accenting their socio-religious status by means of sitting mats and seat cushions, covers for throne’s backrests, monastic garments and utensils and so on. In particular, I will examine the famous depictions of the 6th Panchen Lama Lobsang Pelden Yeshe (1738–1780) and the 3rd Changkya Rölpé Dorjé (1717–1786) showing them in Qing court dress. Moreover, I will discuss the ceremonial robe worn by ordained Tibetan monks on special occasions, a feature shared by other Buddhist cultures in Asia, and their artistic expression on Tibetan paintings. In sum, the talk intends to encourage to study visual and material cultures together in order to understand the various semantic levels in Tibetan art.
In the Valley of the Clouds at Spiti, men who call themselves the disciples (Tib, bu-chen, lit. "great sons") of the Tibetan yogi Thangtong Gyalpo (1361-1485) still perpetuate the art of their master, an atypical religious to whom tradition attributes the invention of suspended iron bridges but also that of the theater. Handling paradoxes, excesses and laughter, they provide a deep but accessible education to all, going from village to village to tell edifying stories. Whether readings, recitations accompanied by painting, or skits belonging more to pantomime than theater, the depictions of the buchen generally conclude with a ritual of spectacular exorcism specific to them, during which the principal officiant breaks with a round and dense stone a long block of schist, placed on the abdomen of a sidekick lying on his back, in order to kill the demon who is locked up there.
On 25 April 2015 a massive earthquake struck Nepal, resulting in the loss of almost 9,000 lives as well as catastrophic destruction to homes, temples and other national monuments of inestimable historical and cultural value. The national and international response has been highly varied, both with regard to the measures adopted and the successes achieved. In this workshop, five internationally known scholars of Nepal will talk about their own experiences in engaging with the challenges of reconstructing the country’s buildings and communities. These will include an overview of the different responses to conservation and reconstruction in the Kathmandu Valley (David Andolfatto); a discussion of the measures taken to restore infrastructure and to develop social services in the communities (Denis Blamont, Blandine Ripert and Brigitte Steinmann); and a presentation of the Nepali-language poetry that has emerged in the four years that have elapsed since the earthquake struck (Michael Hutt).
The district of Mustang (Nepal), also known as the Kingdom of Lo, now includes an area of 3565 m2 which is organized around the valley of Kali Gandaki, rare Himalayan river to flow from North to south. If the written history of the region begins in the eighth century with a mention in the Dunhang texts, the study of archaeological data shows us that the valley has a much older history.
In this paper we shall present the archaeological elements preliminary to the understanding of the history of Mustang. We shall begin by examining the possible presence of a funerary tradition in the south of the valley from the first millennium BC. We shall continue with a brief presentation of the work carried out by the Nepal German Project on High Mountain Archeology in the 90s which will allow us to establish some chronological and cultural bases for the second half of the 1st millennium BC.
Finally, we shall discuss a more recent history, from the 10th century to the 14th century, a period marked by significant architectural development and a more visible religious presence culminating in the establishment of the Lo dynasty in the early 15th century.