SEECHAC organizes conferences for its members
as well as colloquies. Only members may attend conferences.
All conferences are held in the conference room
on the first floor of Musée Cernuschi at 18h.
First 2009 semester program:
- Thursday, January 29th : “Queen
Vaidehî meditationsâ€ by Jacques Gies, President of Guimet
National Museum for Asian Arts.
- Thursday, February 26th
: “Yi script shamanism as political stake in Chinaâ€
by Aurélie Névot, PhD, Anthropologist, Research Fellow at CNRS.
- Thursday, March 26th
: “A comparison between Nepalese and Bengal sculpture, Pala
periodâ€ by Adalbert Gail, Professor at Berlin Free University.
Bengal and Nepal stone sculpture
– a comparison from a religous point of view
A comparison of Bengal and
Nepal stone sculpture exhibits close affinities as well as distinct
The Uma-Mahesvara murti is
the most ubiquitous Saiva icon in both areas, while the Ardhanarisvaramurti,
on the other hand, is the rarest one. The high respect towards the individuality
and independence of Devi, the Great Mother, might be an adequate explanation
for that phenomenon.
Regarding Vaisnava sculpture
a tripartite group is predominant in both countries: while, however,
Bengal favours a central, four-armed Visnu flanked by Laksmi on his
right and Sarasvati on his left side, Newar art prefers central Visnu
accompanied by Laksmi on his right, yet Garuda on his left side. Here,
the exchange of Garuda by Sarasvati in Bengal can well be interpreted
as a purposeful humiliation of Brahma, who preserved just a marginal
competence as priest and gardien of the zenith. Brahma's aspect as a
god of creation, in many other Indian areas expressed in the form of
the so called trimurti, is absent both in Bengal and in Nepal;
An important specimen in respect
of Hindu sculpture is the image of Surya.
In Bengal there is much evidence
of the existence of a particular sect of sun worshippers attested by
a large amount of elaborated images. The adherents of that sect, the
Sauras, called themselves Paramadityas according to inscriptions. Surya
wears boots and – in contrast to Western India – no armour (kancuka),
but an upper garment as many other Indian gods. Surya's entourage consists
of the traditional acolytes Dandin and Pingala, two wives and two arrow-shooters.
While Surya enjoys hight respect by Hindus as well as by Buddhists in
Nepal a particular Saura sect cannot be proved, as I have pointed out
in a recent article on Sun Worship in Nepal
(Pandanus 01, 2008).
The fate of Buddhism
is quite different in both areas. In Bengal Buddhism came to an end
with the Pala and Sena dynasties in 13th century, in Nepal Newar Buddhism
is still alive, yet much assimilated to Hindu ritual and imagery.
The early Pala period in Bengal
(750-900 AD) corresponds to the late Licchavi period in the Kathmandu
valley. The figure of the Buddha is more or less similar in both countries,
both continue the Sarnath tradition of the smooth and the Gandhara tradition
of the pleated garment (samghati). Among the Bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara
seems to be the most popular one. In Bengal the most prevalent type
of image is a stela consisting of a flat backside and figures in more
or less high relief. The Hindu stone sculptures have varied forms. The
most prevalent Buddhist stone sculptures in Nepal are
caityas exhibiting the Buddha, the metaphysical Tathagatas,
Bodhisattvas and other divinities.
A unique type of image in Nepal
is an octagonal (around 1 m high) stone, the Dharmadhatuvagisvaramandala.
Its upper surface is a round disc covered with figural or symbolical
representations of Buddhist deities. The main figure, however, is Manjusri
or Vagisvara, the mythical creator of the Kathmandu valley.
Concluding our short survey
we come back to the beginning: among many masks of Avalokitesvara his
appearance as Halahala-Lokesvara with his Prajna is a magnificent Buddhist
adaptation of the popular Uma-Mahesvara icon in Nepal.
- Thursday, may 28th
: “Ancient Chinese images of Vimalakîrtnirdesaâ€ by
Christine Kontler Barbier, Assistant Lecturer at Tours University and
at the Paris Catholic Institute.
Second semester 2008 program
- Thursday October 9thth: THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF KASHMIR .exceptionnal conference on various aspects of the arts of Kashmir and Ladakh by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Fomer Secretary (culture) to the Indian Goverment, Founder and former head of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.
- Thursday October 16th: Tabo (Spiti, Himachal pradesh) : a tibetan monastery founded in 996 by Christina Schaub Scherrer, Directeur d’Etudes, Vème section de l’Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.
- Thursday November 27th: The Cult of Holy
Mountains and Its Expressions in the Tibetan Bon Religionby
Donatella Rossi, Professor at
Sapienza University, Faculty for Oriental Studies.
The lecture will
be focused upon the role and importance of sacred mountains in the Bon
tradition, with specific reference to two main themes: original cosmological
beliefs, and the origin of the Tibetan civilization as exemplified by
the culture of Zhang-zhung; and the discovery of treasure-texts (Tib.
gter ma) related to specific holy mountains, such as those linked
to the transmission of Mother Tantras and their lineages.
- Thursday December 11th: Lamaist sculpture in
(1635-1723) by Gilles Béguin, General Curator of Cernuschi Museum.
L’Å“uvre sculptée étonnante de Zanabazar (1635- 1723), premier lama incarné de Mongolie, étonne dans le cadre des arts lamaÃ¯ques. Les sources très lacunaires concernant sa carrière doivent Ãªtre mises en rapport avec l’histoire des Mongols septentrionaux. II convient d’avancer des hypothèses sur la formation de ce maître, l’impact dans sa jeunesse de son voyage au Tibet, le fonctionnement de son atelier, la production Ã la fin de sa vie lors de ses longs séjours Ã Beijing, la fin de l’esthétique “zanabarienne” et le passage Ã un art nouveau au cours du XVIIIe siècle.
First semester program 2008
- Thursday, January 31st: Buddhist monasteries
by Gérard Fussman, Professor at the Collège de France.
- Thursday, February 28th: Dream in Buddhist art
by Anna-Maria Quagliotti, Professor at Naples University
- Thursday, April 3rd: Medical iconography in the
Tibetan culture by Fernand Meyer, Directeur d'Etudes at Ecole
Pratique des Hautes Etudes.
- Thursday, May 22nd: Representing cultural identity
on the Silk Road by Kate Lingley, Professor at Hawaii University.