When the esoteric doctrines of the last phase of Indian Buddhism spread in Tibet, there emerged a progressive development of yogic practices and ideas that considered light as an essential ontological principle. In these traditions, we can observe an evolving model of visionary yoga.
Gradually a metaphysics of light took form that strongly characterized the yogic theory and praxis. Light was seen as the fundamental structural component of all the universe, both from a cosmological and ontological point of view.
In this lecture I will focus on the main traits of this metaphysics of light, as it emerges from the esoteric treatises of the Indian Buddhist Kālacakratantra, and of the Tibetan heterodox treatises of the Rnying ma rgyud ‘bum and of the Zhang zhung snyan rgyud.
In the footsteps of Kim, the main character of Kipling's eponymous novel, we invite you to discover Dangkhar, the ancient capital of a border valley situated in the Western Himalayas.
In spite of a documentation work initiated in the 19th century, what do we really know about the history of this 'royal seat' that owed allegiance to the governments of Tibet, Ladakh, and British India over the centuries?
Can the study of material culture and local archives help us to trace the social, religious and political history of the "gigantic valley of many-hued strata"?
The representations of scenes from the Beyond in the Buddhist caves of Mogao (Dunhuang) can be arranged in three categories, quite different from each other. The first consists of infernal representations integrated into cosmological tables relating to Vairocana. The second includes representations in scenes from different sūtra, including the Avalokiteśvara Sūtra (Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sūtra) and the Sūtra of contemplation of the Life-Infinite Buddha. The third is the murals associated with the bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha (Dizang) and the "Ten Kings" called "hell", representing a bureaucratized image of the Hereafter.
In chronological order, we will present a preliminary study of the three categories in question, offering a cross-examination of available sources to better understand the iconographic elements in the representations mentioned above.
When one studies the history of the Tibetan Empire (circa 620-850 AD), one would face, it is said, a cruel lack of sources. Yet, a variety of documents are presented to the historian who is engaged in research on this period of Tibetan history: Tibetan manuscripts found in the "Library Grotto" at the Mogao site in Dunhuang, the imperial epigraphic documents still found today in central Tibet and the archaeological sites of the imperial period south of Lhasa, in the Tibetan province of Amdo (now Qinghai Province of China). The purpose of this presentation is to examine these different types of sources and, considering their particular characteristics, to show how they can be exploited to illuminate the Tibetan imperial history. In particular, this presentation proposes to show how the crossing between different historical documents and their setting in perspective with respect to external sources, in particular Chinese ones, makes it possible to detect certain fundamental features of the culture and the politics of the Tibetan imperial court and its external relations.
The opening of the tomb of Manchu Emperor Qianlong in 1977 provoked the amazement of archaeologists by revealing an extremely complex ornamental program in which writing, and more specifically inscriptions in Tibetan and Lantsa, occupied a major place beside dozens of Buddhist representations. The ideas behind this setting have been the creation and protection of a sacred space for the Buddhist funerary ritual of the Indo-Tibetan tradition and, more surprisingly, the development of a virtual "stupa".
Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) was a discoverer of spiritual treasures whose tradition spread to Bhutan and Tibet. Ngakpas from the cloud valley studied it and taught it back from their 17th century Tibetan trip. Since then, it has become the main tradition of the region. Monks and Ngakpas perform daily rituals in Tsug Lhakhang and honor spiritual requests throughout the valley and beyond. They also meet on particular days of the Buddhist calendar to perform rituals collectively. The guardian of the Tsuglakahng practices daily rituals and honors spiritual requests throughout the valley and beyond.
In the early 1840s, the monastery was attacked by Sikh forces who set it on fire. Since then, the murals are covered with a thick layer of black soot. The aim of the painting restoration project is to remove black soot and reveal the original colors and the iconography of the paintings. Since 2013, a team of experienced restorers has been trying to accomplish this delicate work of conservation-restoration and to rediscover the murals.
The technological analysis of the paintings revealed the preciousness of the materials used by the painters and the iconography, as the cleaning goes on, brings important information to better understand the religious history of the region. This presentation will address the historical aspects of the Pema Lingpa tradition, then the technical issues of the restoration project and the first results already obtained.