Auditorium of Musée Cernuschi. 7, avenue Velasquez. 75008 PARIS.
9H30 AM – 1H30 PM - 3H00 PM – 7H00 PM
A Chinese Manichaean Diagram of the Universe: An Analysis of a Monumental Hanging Scroll from the Song Dynasty. Zsuzsana Gulacsi, Northern Arizona University, Department of Comparative Cultural Studies.
A large medieval Chinese silk painting belonging today to the Nara National Museum located in Nara, Japan, was identified in 2010 by Yutaka Yoshida as a depiction of the cosmos according to the Manichaean religion. Two other small silk fragments originally believed to stem from a separate work of art are here shown to be pieces of an unsuspected missing top section of the same painting. With the original hanging scroll digitally restored and assessed with the aid of a line-drawn diagram, it is now possible to offer a systematic analysis of its overall design and individual sub scenes that incorporate previous interpretations, correct others, and add several new insights. In light of early Manichaean cosmological texts paired with a formal artistic analysis, this presentation explores visual catechism as it is conveyed within a complex iconography of over 900 motifs distributed in a layered symmetry that merges anthropomorphic, geomorphic, and architectonic features into a monumental cosmic map of salvation.
The book of the Kings of Ferdowsi and the pictorial supports to his recitation; more than a millennium’s tradition. Frantz Grenet, Collège de France.
The tradition of the Shāhnāmekhān, reciters of the Shâhnāme, Ferdowsi's "Book of Kings" (early 11th c.), Iran's national epic, remained alive in Iran and Afghanistan. In Iran, recitations attracting the largest number of people take place in front of large paintings. They are sometimes accompanied by improvised moments and gesticulations (the most famous "performer", Gordāfarid, is a star of Iranian television, although emigrated to Los Angeles). Several cycles painted in particular houses in Pendjikent (not far from Samarkand), executed in the 740s, but when the city was still little Islamized, show epic scenes taking place in long banners painted on three walls of the reception room. Rostam, champion of kings, can be identified in three cycles, one of which corresponds to a known episode of Shāhnāme. It is very probable that recitations took place before these paintings. The arrangement of the episodes on the walls makes one suspect that they are in some cases the transposition of illustrated scrolls.
“The Sermon Scenes” of Kucha. Refinements and Conventionalization of the Indian Pictorial Tradition. Monika Zin, Leipzig University.
Narrative paintings must have played an enormous role for the dwellers and the visitors of the Buddhist caves in Kucha since they cover most parts of the walls and barrel vaults. The stories themselves, as well as the tradition to illustrate them in the monasteries, was adopted from India together with a set of highly sophisticated techniques of narrative representation. However, in Kucha these techniques were further developed to achieve a condensation of narrative representations; the aim was to show as many topics as possible within the space available. This resulted in a "telegraphic style" of pictorial story-telling; one picture can contain events taking place in different re-births, while in other cases an entire tale is represented just by one single attribute and alongside an image of the preaching Buddha we may find not only the depictions of his audience but also of the content of his sermon.
Writing the Visual: Translating Buddha life Narratives from Text into Image (Tibet). Andrew Quintman, Yale University.
Accounts of the Buddha’s final life are ubiquitous across Tibet. Among the most extensive and striking are those in the corpus of literary and visual materials produced by the seventeenth-century luminary Tāranātha Kunga Nyingpo (1575–1634) at his monastic seat of Phuntsokling in the Tibetan region of Tsang. This paper examines Tāranātha’s work entitled A Painting Manual for the Hundred Acts of the Teacher, Lord of Śākyas (Ston pa shākya dbang po’i mdzad brgya pa’i bris yig). This text exemplifies the little-studied genre of Tibetan writing known as the painting manual (bris yig). In it, Tāranātha self-consciously bridges two sets of Buddha vitae: his literary narrative in 125 chapters called The Sun of Faith (Dad pa’i nyin byed) and the narrative murals executed in his monastery’s second floor gallery, covering some 150 square meters, referred to as “the Boundless Design” (bkod pa mtha’ yas). The Painting Manual covers the entire arc of the Buddha’s life story as told in The Sun of Faith, and contains scene-by-scene instructions for its visual representation. Tāranātha’s Painting Manual thus inhabits in a middle ground between two media, effectively translating text into image. This paper draws on Tāranātha’s writings and a complete site documentation of his murals to reflect upon the different kinds of stories textual and visual narratives tell, and how the translation from one to the other leads to new forms of storied knowledge.
Nepalese Narrative paintings of the second Malla kingdoms XVII-XVIII. Anne Vergati, CNRS, Paris.
In the three Malla kingdoms Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur of Kathmandu Valley a new category of paintings appeared at the end of XVIth century. These are long scrolls (Newari vilampu) depicting the legends of foundation of monasteries, Buddhist legends, a festival (yatra) or a pilgrimage. These scrolls were exhibited in the courtyard of the monasteries during the holy month of Buddhists, the month of August. In the past, they have been used for teaching the Buddhist legends, for instance the legend of prince Visvantara, the creation of the valley by the bodhisattva Manjusri or the history of a monastery. They show a strong Indian influence for the costumes and landscape but at the same time they have create a specific Nepalese style. Often, they represent monuments such monasteries, temple, stupa which are characteristic for Malla kingdoms. These paintings are important documents for the cultural history of the Malla kingdoms.
Tibetan Buddhist Storytellers, their stories and their audience Berthe Jansen, Leiden University.
In this paper, I discuss the tradition of Buddhist storytelling in Tibet and the Himalayas. The Lama Manipa (or bu chen) were men and women who travelled far and wide to tell their stories to ordinary people. Significantly, they used traditional paintings (thang kha) to illustrate their narratives. The often colourful and emotive stories revolve around persons important in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and are presented to the public as portraying religious history. Currently, there appears to be only one active storyteller left. Using the interviews I conducted with this last Lama Manipa, the narrative thang khas, and textual references to this tradition as my sources, I consider the stories told, and shown, to an audience of believers. I argue that, ultimately, an investigation into this (semi-) ‘folk’ religious tradition offers us a glimpse into the once lived religious experiences of ordinary Tibetan Buddhists.
The Fourth International SEECHAC Colloquium : Religious revivals and artistic Renaissance in Central Asia and the Himalayan Region – Past and present, was held in Heidelberg from 16 to 18 November. The host institution was the University of Heidelberg’s Pole of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a global context” and the remarkable organization was ensured by Birgit Kellner, professor of Buddhist studies, who is now joining the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna as the Director of the Institute of Cultural and Spiritual History of Asia.
A large, motivated and generally young public attended the colloquium with ten nationalities represented. It was held in the “Forum International de la Science” which provided both a practical and pleasant setting. The following themes emerged from the twenty papers presented, which were all in English:
- Buddhist decors (mainly Mahāyānic) in the western Himalayas and the Tarim Oasis; - The repossession of cultural heritage by the societies and States of the post-Soviet republics of Central Asia; - The rituals of the populations of the eastern Himalayas, Tibetan and Mongol: recent revivals, reinterpretations and innovations.
The latter body of research in which the Heidelberg school is currently very active was particularly well illustrated at the colloquium, giving it a more contemporary flavour than in the past. The program allowed for adequate time for discussion that was both lively and friendly. As well as the papers, two lectures were given, one by Christian Luczanits “Processes of revival in Himalayan art: Imagining Kashmir and Nepal in the 15th and 17th centuries”, the other by Harry Falk, “Royal inthronisation rites from Commagene to the Kushans and beyond”. The regrettable absence at the colloquium of Tibetan and Central Asian researchers (apart from a colleague from Kirghizistan) was not due to the organizers but was the result of contingency factors: the institutions to which they are attached not taking charge of the missions, the difficulty in obtaining exit visas for the citizens of the People’s Republic of China. In the final discussion there was a unanimous desire that a volume issued from the colloquium should be published, as was the case with the Vienna colloquium which will appear early next year. This possibility will be actively investigated and Birgit Kellner implied that that it would succeed.
Frantz Grenet President of SEECHAC
Luneau, Élise: Transfers and Interactions between North and South in Central Asia during the Bronze Age.
Erdenebold, Lhagvasuren: Preliminary Excavation Findings from Shoroon Bumbagar, Ulaan Kherem, Mongolia.
Nalesini, Oscar: Two Enigmatic “Megalithic” Sites in Tibet.
Lo Muzio, Ciro: Skanda and the Mothers in Khotanese Buddhist Painting.
Grenet, Frantz: The Deydier Vase and Its Tibetan Connections: A Preliminary Note.
Pritzker, David: Allegories of Kingship During the Tibetan Empire: A Preliminary Study of a West Asian Gold Ewer in the Royal Court of Tibet.
Zhu, Tianshu: The Influence from Khotan: The Standing Buddha Images in Kucha.
II. Translation and Adoption of Art and Architecture in the Western Himalayas
Allinger, Eva: An Early West Tibetan Manuscript from Hanle Monastery, Ladakh.
Heller, Amy & Charlotte Eng: Three Ancient Manuscripts from Tholing in the Tucci Collection, IsIAO, Roma, Part II: Manuscript 1329 O.
Kalantari, Christiane: The Art of Khorchag and Khartse in the Fabric of Western Himalayan Buddhist Art (10th–14th Centuries): Questions of Style II.
Flood, Finbarr B.: A Turk in the Dukhang? Comparative Perspectives on Islamicate Dress in Medieval Ladakh and the Caucasus.
Di Mattia, Marialaura: A Cultural Crossroads: Some “Foreign” Elements in the Art and Architecture of mNga’ ris.
Feiglstorfer, Hubert: Reconstruction of the West Tibetan temples of Khorchag: The Lhakhang Chenmo.
III. Patterns of Transformation in Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia and Central Asia
Doney, Lewis: Narrative Transformations: The Spiritual Friends of Khri Srong lde brtsan.
Devers, Quentin: Charting Ancient Routes in Ladakh: An Archaeological Documentation.
Lecomte-Tilouine, Marie: Is There a Network of Sacred Fires Across the Himalayas and Central Asia? From Baku to Nepal, and Back.
Charleux, Isabelle: Circumambulating the Jowo in Mongolia: Why Erdeni Juu Should Be Translated as “Jowo Rinpoche”.
Birtalan, Ágnes: Between the Himalayas and Inner Asia – The Mongolian Case.
Lang, Maria-Katharina: Moving Artefacts: Mongolian Tsam Figures.
Organizing Committee Paris
Organizing Committee Heidelberg
Birgit Kellner (Chair of Buddhist Studies)
William S. Sax
With the kind support of the Ti-se Foundation
Contact for Enquiries
Secretary of the Chair of Buddhist Studies
Karl Jaspers Centre, Gebäude 4400
Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg
The colloquium will focus on various forms of religious revivals or artistic renaissances in the Himalayas and Central Asia, including Northern India, Northern Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics, from the viewpoint of a variety of disciplines and fields of study (in particular archaeology, art history, numismatics, philology, social anthropology, religious studies). Papers can be given in any European language, albeit preferably in English (20 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion).
All SEECHAC members are invited to attend the colloquium. Colleagues wishing to attend the conference should inform the organisers as early as possible at email@example.com. Abstracts for papers of no more than 20 lines should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before 31 January 2015.
President of SEECHAC
Organizing Committee Heidelberg
The Third SEECHAC International Conference was held on 25-27 November 2013 in the splendid historical precincts of the Vienna Academy of Sciences (AAS), under the title Interactions in the Himalayas and Central Asia. Processes of transfer, translation and transformation in art, archaeology, religion and polity from Antiquity to the present day.Alphabetical list of abstracts
The conference was introduced by Pr. Dr. Brigitte Mazohl (President of the philosophical-historical section of the AAS), Pr. Frantz Grenet (President of SEECHAC) and Pr. Ernst Steinkellner (AAS).
24 papers were presented to a numerous and responsive audience, including a number of students. Speakers came from Austria, Germany, France, England, Italy, Hungary, the USA, Mongolia and India. Unfortunately two Tibetan colleagues who had been invited were unable to come at the last moment for administrative reasons. In accordance with the title of the conference, the papers touched on a broad spectrum of periods and countries, but with a general emphasis on questions of transfers and adaptations from one culture to the next (and sometimes between geographically very distant cultures).
Among the subjects which were addressed, art and archaeology were represented by the Bronze Age in Central Asia (Elise Luneau) ; the archaeology of early Medieval Ladakh (Quentin Devers) and Mongolia (Lhagvasuren Erdenebold) ; Hindu painting in Khotan (Ciro Lo Muzio), Buddhist painting in Kucha (Jorinde Ebert) and in 17th century Nepal (Anne Vergati).
As expected, the majority of the papers focussed on Tibetan issues: early Tibetan philology (Birgit Kellner) ; the art and archaeology of the 7th-9th century Tibetan empire (David Pritzker, Frantz Grenet, Guntram Hazod) ; Medieval history (Lewis Downey) ; Buddhist painting and manuscripts (Lewis Doney, Hubert Feiglstorfer, Amy Heller, Christian Luczanits, Gudrun Melzer and Eva Allinger) ; ancient medicine (Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim).
Modern societies were the topic of several papers, both on Tibet (Klaus-Dieter Mathes) and on Mongolia (Maria-Katharina Lang, Agnes Birtalan, Isabelle Charleux).
Finally, some papers embraced the far-off historical or artistic contacts of the Himalayan regions (Christiane Kalantari, Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, Finbarr Barry Flood, Diwakar Kumar Singh).
Our hosts in Vienna, in the first place Christiane Kalantari and Christian Jahoda, were warmly congratulated for the perfect organization and the excellent atmosphere. SEECHAC is now planning the next conference in 2015.
During my field researches I had the opportunity to record texts both in situ and beyond rituals among various Mongolian ethnic groups, and while working on the project aimed at the complete elaboration of the Hans Leder-Sammlung in European Collections (under the guidance of Maria-Katharina Lang, Wien) I became able to examine a great variety of diverse images of deities that the Mongols are inclined to worship. In order to study the connection between the textual tradition and the images of the pre-revolutionary period of Mongolian religious practices (turn of the 19th and 20th centuries) I chose the images of the White old man (a well known deity in various forms in Cis-Himalayan and Inner Asian regions) and the different types of equestrian warrior gods and examined the possible correlation between the motifs of texts and features of objects.
The aim of the present paper is to introduce the main principles of the transfer of religious ideas in both texts and images, and to reveal the areas and extent of local influence, i. e. the degree of their “Mongolisation”.
As we know them through the accounts of the 19th and early 20th century explorers, these routes were shaped by the treaties signed between Ladakh, Kashmir and Tibet in the 17th century. Long distance trade ended up in the hands of few wealthy families: the scale at which they conducted their activity made Leh the centre of a network from which a limited number of routes reached the main destinations of commerce – i.e. the Tarim basin, Kashmir, Central Tibet, Baltistan and India. Because of the scarcity of written sources, the pre-treaties route network is mainly uncharted: it is not known whether it was similar to that observed later on or if it had a more arborescent scheme.
After conducting comprehensive surveys the author has gathered a large corpus of archaeological sites, documenting, among others, over two hundred fortifications and ruined settlements. Their location, density, topographical and archaeological environments give unprecedented insights into the pre-treaties communication scheme. Through the examination of key sites and their spatial distribution, we will, during this presentation, define these ancient itineraries and observe that the communication network had then a much greater diversity of routes and destinations, with an emphasis towards several parts of Upper Tibet.
In this presentation, material and constructive parameters as well as proportional relations within the Jokhang and Lhakhang Chenmo temples and the methodology of the reconstruction will be explained. The methodology itself is based on the analytical study of the interrelation of spatial, proportional, material and constructive data of the individual components as part of the whole architectural complex within the framework of an interdisciplinary approach.
In their reconstructed form, the Jokhang and the Lhakhang Chenmo appear as being related to different architectural-historic roots. While the layout of the first is based on a cruciform shape, the latter is much more related to a small temple with a cella (dri gtsang khang) as it's own chamber, and was transformed into a cruciform shape in a later phase. The results of this reconstruction will be typologically compared with other early sacred sites like Nyarma or Tandruk in an architectural-historic context based on a transference of constructive traditions in the Himalayas and their local transformation within the early Western Tibetan empire.
The individual Islamicate and Indic elements in the Alchi paintings have been subject to extensive discussion. Moving from the micro level of iconographic and formal analysis to the macro level of cross-cultural comparison suggests, however, that the Alchi paintings might be seen as evidence for a broader twelfth-century transcultural horizon. This is characterized both by commonalities among the self-representations of cosmopolitan elites established across a swath of territory from Sicily to western Tibet, and by the circulation and consumption of 'imported' visual forms. The phenomenon was especially marked in regions that constituted an economic, geographic, or political nexus between major cultural formations. Considering the transcultural elements of the Alchi paintings in a wide-ranging comparative perspective, the lecture will present them as part of a synchronic transect across the twelfth century, drawing attention to a consistent relation between artistic displacement, visual eclecticism, and elite self-fashioning, and exploring its implications for the idea the pre-modern 'global'.
1. G. Tucci, Tibetan Painted Scrolls, Roma, 1949.
2.P. Pal, Art of Tibet, A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1983.
3.P. Pal and J. Meech-Pekarik, Buddhist Book Illuminations, New York, 1988.
4. P. Harrison, “Notes on some West Tibetan manuscript folios in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art”, in Pramāṇakīrtiḥ edited by B. Kellner (Vienna : Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, 2007: 229-246.
5. P. Pal, “A Painted Book cover from Ancient Kashmir”, www.asianart.com,
6. A. Heller, Hidden Treasures of the Himalayas, Tibetan paintings, Manuscripts and Sculptures of Dolpo, Serindia Publications, 2009.
7. D. Klimburg-Salter, “ A Decorated Prajnaparamita Manuscript from Poo”, Orientations, June, 1994: 54-60.
8. E. Allinger, “Kunstler and Wekstatt am BEispeil des westibetischen Manuskriptes in Poo/Himachal Pradesh” Vanamālā : Festschrift A. J. Gail; Gerd J. R. Mevissen et Klaus Bruhn, eds. - Berlin: Weidler Buchverlag, 2006.
Research relating to the narrative complex associated with Thon mi sambhoṭa has primarily focussed on finding the historical truth behind the accomplishments attributed to this elusive figure (who some doubt even existed). This paper will pursue a different approach. A closer look at the different versions of the Thon mi complex reveals variations in their structure, in the elements involved, in their mutual relations, and in their function within the larger narrative framework. Through analysing several salient versions, this paper aims to investigate how different authors depict Indo-Tibetan religio-cultural connections in this particular case, and to explore possibilities to etch out a more precise morphology of Tibetan approaches to aspects of Indian culture.
Also we have discovered totally 140 golden objects and more than 40 golden coins were amongst the other objects. We think that most of the golden coins were designed in Constantinople, in 630 BC. These coins were designed for decoration and for gifts as we consider. Some of the coins had handles for hanging or even it had small holes for various things. These small holes or handles of the coins are clear shown us the usage of these coins. Most of the coins had images of something and several coins portrayed images of aristocrats of the Byzantine period. Thin and light golden coins were discovered from here too. It shows us that a golden coin had been fabricated and used in an ancient time and others depicted ritual fire offerings that are the main rite of Manichaeism. This religion spread amongst Turkic nomads in some extends and it was influenced on the world view and funeral ceremony that period of time. We have also found a golden flower pattern at Shoroon Bumbagar tomb of Ulaan Kherem that has been taken an attention. Unfortunately, this golden object was intentionally broken and put it into the coffin, therefore, it is difficult to restore it completely. If we look at it more carefully, leaves appear on both sides from middle of bunch bouquet and each leaves forms a heart –shape. If we connect all heart – shaped leaves, we can see an image of complete flower pattern. Researchers underlined that this kind of the flower pattern that expresses heart-blood was originated from India. Also this flowery pattern consider as a symbol of energy. In China, it is called as a gem flower pattern. We assume that maybe this Indian pattern spread amongst Central Asian nomads through China.
The territory that is today Mongolia was inhabited by the nomadic tribes in the 7th century and they had known about states of Middle Asia in West, Greeks and Rom in East, China in South, Tibet and India in South-West and Balhae /ancestor of Korea / in East and also they had communicated in a direct and indirect way with them which it proved by the findings from Shoroon Bumbagar tomb. A gallery of wall paintings has never been discovered not only in Mongolia but also in the region of nomadic tribes of Central Asia too. Therefore, we can say it that this discovery opens a new page in the history of archeological science.
The findings of Shoroon Bumbagar of Ulaan Kherem is given to us to further research on ancient nomads’ tomb construction, funeral custom, their aesthetics, artistic thoughts, development of a craft skill and their world view which is definitely enriched the scope and base of historical and archaeological research by new materials. We think that ancient nomadic tribes inhabited in current Mongolian territory, given to us a great possibility to close study of their socio-economic situation, their intellectual development and foreign relations. Finally, it is no doubt that it will be a valuable source for making new scientific conclusion on it.
In my presentation I will introduce the main characteristics for the earliest paintings of the Drigung School shortly, refine their historical setting, establish distinctive mahāsiddha and Buddha representations characteristic for this school, and relates all these to monuments in Ladakh.
In terms of chronology, I will focus on the first two centuries of Drigung art, and only occasionally refer to later examples. Finally, I will show how the main iconographic groups found are conceptually related to each other and thus hint towards a function of these paintings.
This communication will present and investigate the different relations between the cultures from North and South of Central Asia during the Bronze Age. The perspective will also be to better define the impact of the interactions on the sociocultural evolution of the Central Asian cultures during the Bronze Age.
The present paper is based both on my docu¬mentation of the annual A ma g.Yang ri Festival which was celebrated on April 6, 2012 at g.Yang ri Peak (3771m) overlooking Tarkekhyang, and on textual evidence of A ma g.Yang ri and g.Yang ri Peak found in the writings of Nyingma and Kagyu masters traveling to and living in Yol mo, i.e., Rig ´dzin rGod ldem, Zhwa dmar Chos kyi dbang phyug (1584-1630), the first Yol mo sPrul sku Shākya bzang po (15th /16th cent.), and the fifth Yol mo sprul sku ´Phrin las bdud ´joms (1726-1789).
Quite often we find only the miniatures of isolated folios published while their relation to the general layout of the manuscript and the text remains unclear. Recent studies of Indian and Nepalese Prajñāpāramitā manuscripts have revealed an intriguing relationship between the illuminations and the text as well as the book as an important object for worship. Frequently, the distribution of illuminations in the manuscripts seems to have been thoroughly planned.
In the presentation, we investigate the underlying scheme of the distribution of early western Tibetan book illuminations and their style in relation to the text. How many people wrote a multi-volume book like the Śatasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā? How many artisans draw the illuminations? What is the history of such a manuscript; how was it preserved? How is it related to the well-known Kanjur versions?
As an example we choose an almost complete and unpublished Śatasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā manuscript from Hanle (Wam le) in Ladakh, which will be comparatively studied.
The paintings of the second Malla period representing the stūpa of Svayambhunath are important documents for the architecture of the Valley and the pantheon of Kathmandu Valley. The present painting was executed for the ceremony of installation of the vajra at Svayambhū in 1668, ordered by the Hindu King of Kathmandu, Pratāpa Malla, and it depicts this festive event. Among the assembly of worshippers in front of the vajra on a dharmadhātu mandala, the main figure is the king Pratāpa Malla and on the other side, his wife, Anantapriyā. The study of the monuments and paintings of the second Malla period could help us to understand the complex relationship of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Malla kingdoms.
By contextualizing this material, I suggest some possible directions towards untangling questions of transmission.