Narrative paintings and teachings from Central Asia to the Himalayas
(Peintures narratives et enseignements, de l’Asie centrale à l’Himalaya)
Le 23 Octobre 2017 dans l'Auditorium du Musée Cernuschi.
Cette « Journée d’études » constituait la cinquième rencontre internationale organisée par la SEECHAC depuis sa fondation, après celles de Rome, Paris, Vienne et Heidelberg. Elle a rassemblé un public fourni, et s’est assurée la participation d’éminents collègues venus de l’étranger. Les sujets abordés ont couvert l’ensemble du champ géographique et chronologique dans le domaine de compétence de la SEECHAC, de l’Iran à la Chine en passant par le Népal et le Tibet.
Titres des communications
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.
Le livre des Rois de Ferdowsi et les supports picturaux à sa récitation ; une tradition plus que millénaire / 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.
La tradition des Shāhnāmekhān, récitateurs du Shāhnāme, le « Livre des Rois » de Ferdowsi (début 11e s.), l’épopée nationale de l’Iran, est restée vivante en Iran et en Afghanistan. En Iran les récitations qui attirent le public le plus nombreux se déroulent devant de grands tableaux peints. Elles s’accompagnent parfois de plages improvisées et de gesticulations (la « performatrice » la plus fameuse, Gordāfarid, est une vedette de la télévision iranienne, bien qu’émigrée à Los Angeles).
Plusieurs cycles peints dans des maisons particulière à Pendjikent (non loin de Samarkand), exécutés dans les années 740 mais alors que la ville n’était encore que peu islamisée, montrent des scènes épiques se déroulant en longs bandeaux peints sur trois murs de la salle de réception. Rostam, champion des rois, peut être identifié dans trois cycles, dont l’un correspond à un épisode connu du Shāhnāme. Il est très probable que des récitations se déroulaient devant ces peintures. La disposition des épisodes sur les murs fait soupçonner qu’elles sont dans certains cas la transposition de rouleaux historiés.
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.
Le volume intitulé Interaction in the Himalayas and in Central Asia. Processes of transfer, translation and transformation in art, archaeology, religion and polity, issu du troisième colloque international de la SEECHAC, qui s’était tenu à Vienne les 25-27 novembre 2013, est paru aux presses de l’Académie des Sciences d’Autriche (Vienne, 2017), sous la direction d’Eva Allinger, Frantz Grenet, Christian Jahoda, Maria-Katharina Lang et Anne Vergati.
Il rassemble vingt contributions, donc la quasi-totalité des communications qui avaient été présentées au colloque.
Elles couvrent tout le champ d’intérêt de la SEECHAC, depuis l’Asie centrale jusqu’au Xinjiang, au Népal, au Tibet et à la Mongolie, et un horizon chronologique qui va de l’Âge du Bronze à l’époque contemporaine. L’orientation est principalement vers l’archéologie et l’histoire de l’art, notamment mais pas exclusivement bouddhiques. Plusieurs sites ou objets sont ici publiés pour la première fois.
Nos partenaires autrichiens n’ont épargné aucun effort pour produire un très beau volume, abondamment illustré avec une qualité maximale de reproduction.
Comme plusieurs spécialistes internationaux l’ont déjà fait remarquer il est certain que ce livre, par la richesse de son contenu comme par l’agrément de sa consultation, constituera une référence incontournable.
Disponible en Open Access
Achat en ligne
Pole of excellence « Asia and Europe in a global context, Heidelberg University
Opening session with Pr. Kellner and Pr. Grenet
Christian Luczanits and Pr. Kellner
Participants surrounding Pr. Kellner and Pr. Grenet
Le quatrième colloque international de la SEECHAC : Religious revivals and artistic Renaissance in Central Asia and the Himalayan region – past and present , s’est tenu à Heidelberg du 16 au 18 novembre. L’institution hôte était le pôle d’excellence « Asia and Europe in a global context » de l’Université de Heidelberg, l’organisation (exemplaire) ayant surtout été assurée par Birgit Kellner, professeur d’études bouddhiques, qui va maintenant rejoindre à Vienne l’Académie des Sciences d’Autriche pour diriger l’Institut d’Histoire Culturelle et Spirituelle de l’Asie.
Le colloque accueillait un public nombreux et motivé, jeune en général, où dix nationalités étaient représentées, dans le cadre à la fois fonctionnel et agréable du « Forum International de la Science ». Parmi les vingt communications, toutes en anglais, se dégageaient surtout les thèmes suivants :
- les décors bouddhistes (principalement mahāyāniques) dans l’Himalaya occidental et les oasis du Tarim ;
- la réappropriation des héritages culturels par les sociétés et les États des républiques post-soviétiques d’Asie centrale ;
- les rituels des populations est-himalayennes, tibétaines et mongoles: renouveaux récents, réinterprétations, innovations.
Ce dernier ensemble de recherches, sur lequel l’école de Heidelberg est aujourd’hui très active, a été particulièrement bien illustré au colloque, qui de ce fait a eu une coloration plus « contemporanéiste » que les précédents.
Le programme laissait un temps substantiel aux discussions, aussi animées qu’amicales. En plus des communications nous avons entendu deux conférences, l’une par Christian Luczanits, « Processes of revival in Himalayan art : imagining Kashmir and Nepal in the 15th and 17th centuries », l’autre par Harry Falk, « Royal inthronisation rites from Commagene to the Kushans and beyond ».
On peut certes regretter l’absence au colloque de chercheurs tibétains et la quasi absence de chercheurs des républiques d’Asie centrale (à part une collègue du Kirghizistan), lacune qui n’était certes pas imputable aux organisateurs mais découlait de certains facteurs contingents : non-prise en charge des missions par les institutions de rattachement, difficulté d’obtenir les visas de sortie pour les ressortissants de la République Populaire de Chine.
Dans la discussion finale il a été unanimement souhaité que puisse paraître un volume issu des travaux du colloque, comme cela a été le cas pour le colloque de Vienne dont la publication verra le jour au début de l’année prochaine. La possibilité sera activement explorée, avec une bonne chance de succès comme l’a laissé entendre Birgit Kellner.
Président de la SEECHAC
Strategies for the revival and survival of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries during the 17th century and beyond.
At first glance, when considering Tibetan Buddhist monasticism, one is often struck by the sheer magnitude of the phenomenon: there once existed more than 6000 monastic institutions throughout Central Asia and the Himalayas and at a certain point in time up to 20% percent of the male population in Central Tibet was ordained. Furthermore, Drepung monastery, with the inhabitants estimated to be around 10.000 in the beginning of the 20th century, could be said to have once been the largest monastery in the world. However, while a relatively small number of monasteries truly flourished under the Ganden Phodrang government established in 1642, many others struggled to survive the changing times. There existed various reasons for the problems faced by these institutions. When confronted with such issues, monastic leaders often decided on a management overhaul or on policy-changes, which one can find articulated in the monastic guidelines (bca’ yig), often composed specifically for this purpose. In this paper I will discuss the various socio-religious strategies contained in these works that were aimed at revival for the sake of survival. I will further argue that an examining these policies from a ‘Buddhist studies’ perspective, rather than seeing them as being solely politically or economically motivated, offers a more complete understanding of the societal role of pre-modern Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.
Donyi-Polo, a reformist and revival « tribal » and « indigeneous » religion in Arunachal Pradesh, North-East India: two approaches to discuss.
I propose in this paper to analyze and observe the revival phenomena or rather the «creation » of Donyi-Polo, a religious practice of the Adi (major tribe) of Siang valley in Himalayan region of Arunachal Pradesh. The project, based on a two months fieldwork in the area between February and April 2015, will look at various aspects of this religious practice. This topic is an entry to observe social and cultural change among the Adi, an ethnic and linguistic Tibeto-Birman group (Blackburn, Post 2010). Donyi-Polo has been analyzed as an animistic and/or spiritual practice (Fürer-Haimendorf, 1957) and not a religion in its Durkheimian or Maussian definition. However, since the late 80's, a certain form of revival and institutionalization of Donyi-Polo, also called « Donyi-Poloism » has been observed but seldom studied (Blackburn 2010, Chaudhuri, 2013).
After some contextualization and a descriptive introduction on Donyi-Polo, the practice and discourses I would have collected from the field, I propose to discuss two approaches in my paper. Firstly, I would like to debate the influence and the social role of such a revival religious form in a fluid and fast-moving geopolitical and social context. What is the role of Donyi-Polo in the Adi society ? Could we consider that its religious shape is leading to defining a new ethnoscape and eventually, a change in the perception of a collective identity (Appadurai, 2001, 2005) ?
Secondly, I would like to develop the ongoing issue of saffronisation in Arunachal Pradesh through Donyi-Poloism, bringing forward the role of the Hindutva in Indian tribal context (Sundar, 2002) as well as the element of an « indigeneous religion » and its political use. This approach follows the studies on hinduization and sankritization in the Himalayan context (Berti, Jaoul, Kanungo, 2011) and question the notion of indigeneism in its essentialist vision.
Religious Revival or Religious Conversion?
Any popular account of religious revival is likely to present the identities, allegiances, and motives involved as straightforward and unambiguous. Any critical examination, however, inevitably reveals a far more complex picture, in which religious affiliations, like ethnic ones, are subject to manipulation, and rediscovered (or newly-found) ‘faiths’ may appear to serve as symbols of resistance, or are employed creatively to help in the construction of identity.
Reported cases of religious revival in the Tibetan cultural borderlands, ranging from Sichuan and Yunnan in the PRC to the Southern areas bordering India and Nepal, are no exception. The Tamangs are the largest ‘tribal’ group in Nepal. Officially (at least according to the Nepalese Census of 2011) the population is predominantly Buddhist. The influence of Tibetan (particularly monastic) Buddhism amongst the Tamangs continues to grow. Various Tamangs present this as a rediscovery and re-engagement with their own traditions. However this clashes, to some extent, with narratives and attitudes to borderland populations and cultures emanating from the Tibetan ‘centre’.
This paper, based upon findings of research conducted for my PhD thesis (2014), will introduce some of the complexities of the Tamang situation. I shall not present specific case- studies, nor subject the identities and traditions of the Tamangs to a withering deconstruction, as has perhaps sometimes occurred in the past. Instead I shall attempt to illustrate how the present situation regarding the Tamangs must be seen within a far broader, and largely unwritten, cultural and historical context. The principal aim is to demonstrate how this can be used to challenge standard representations of Tibetan religion in the Himalayan region.
The Pure Dga' ldan Lineage: The "Revival Movement" of Pha bong kha Bde chen snying po.
Pha bong kha Bde chen snying po (1878-1941) was one of the most popular Dge lugs teachers in the Lhasa Valley during the first half of the twentieth century. His students ranged from high ranking aristocrats and government officials to ordinary monks at all of Lhasa's most important institutions. Pha bong kha presented his teachings as being exclusively Dge lugs, emphasizing in particular Tsong kha pa's unique interpretation of emptiness, as well as a selection of tantric practices, most notoriously that of the protector Rdo rje shugs ldan, all of which he saw, contestably, as being uncommon features of this "pure" lineage stemming from its fourteenth-century founder. The repercussions of his "revivalist movement", as it has been called, have had long-lasting effects on an international scale in the form of the well-known controversy surrounding Shugs ldan. Perhaps more importantly his teachings have fundamentally effected the way in which the Dge lugs teachings are now presented as hardly any Dge lugs teacher outside of Tibet today can deny holding lineages stemming from Pha bong kha. In this paper I will question the extent to which Pha bong kha's was a "revivalist" movement, and if indeed it could be termed a "movement" at all. Areas that will be explored, albeit briefly, include his Collected Works, as well as the various writings of his teachers and students, his patronage and student base, as well as his views of other Tibetan Buddhist sects.
Religious Revival in 19th Century Tibet and the Spread of a Mahāyāna Classic.
The Bodhi(sattva)caryāvatāra (BCA) by the Indian master Śāntideva is without doubt one of the most fundamental works of Buddhism, in particular, when one considers its long history of transmission, translation, and transformation in various local contexts. It is also of high relevance to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, attested – for example – by the enormous production of Tibetan commentarial literature on the BCA from the 11th that the BCA gained importance only by the 19th century. As will be shown, this development can be linked to Rdza Dpal sprul O rgyan 'jigs med chos kyi dbang po (1808–1887), a charismatic yogin, scholar, and exponent of the so-called "ris med movement," a network of religious luminaries active in the area of Derge in Eastern Tibet.
Promoting a closer exchange between different religious traditions, especially among proponents of the Sa skya, Bka' brgyud, and Rnying ma schools, members of this network engaged in the collection, production, and transmission of Buddhist teachings, and thereby contributed to a wave of religious activity that must also be seen as a counterbalance to the dominion of the Dge lugs tradition in Central Tibet.
In my talk, I will first provide a survey of the production of BCA-related texts that point to a connection to Dpal sprul, and then try to evaluate these processes by looking at details of his biography, but also by relating them to the religious climate of his times.
Early Regionalization in Western Himalayas: Development of Mahākāla Images in Alchi.
Western Himalayas as a hub of Indian, Tibetan and Central Asian Buddhist art, has incorporated and developed its distinctive regional tradition of Esoteric Buddhist art during the 10th to 14th centuries. The wrathful deity Mahākāla was introduced from India to the Western Himalayas under this flow. In the Alchi complex, Mahākāla is prevalent and appears above the doorways of Dukhang, Sumtsek, Lhakhang Soma as well as Lotsawa Temple. As each Mahākāla comes from different stage of Alchi, their representations vary from the Kashmir-inspired style to Central Tibetan style. At the same time, the Mahākālas incorporate secular themes such as elaborate channel ground, local royal riders and “peacock lady.” These Mahākāla images in Alchi provide a chronological framework with which we can study the local development and regional characteristics of Buddhist iconographies in the Western Himalayas.
Contemporary studies of the Western Himalayas focus on how external influences from India and Central Asia affect the art form. How far should we see its art as a subset of its neighbors, or as its own visual form? The paper explores this debate from the perspective of iconography. It compares the depictions of Mahākāla in Alchi to the description in Buddhist text, and contemporary Mahākāla images from India and Central Tibet. It highlights how artists incorporate local themes and the specific discourse of Mahākāla in Alchi. Although the iconography of Mahākāla came from Indian and Central Tibetan traditions, it was never consistent in Alchi and perceived differently than its original sources.
An Analytical Approach to The Contribution of Uygurs in The Renaissance of Mahayana Art in Turfan.
Turks contributed highly in development of Buddhist religion, philosophy and culture in Turkestan and China starting from the dynasties they established in North China, i.e. Northern Liang and Northern Wei. Many of the first Buddhist sutras were translated from Indian languages to Chinese and the first Buddhist cave temples, i.e. Mogao and Longmen, were built under the patronage of these Turkic sovereigns. Buddhist Uygurs made great contributions, especially to Mahayana Buddhism in Turfan and Dunhuang, too. The renaissance of Mahayana Buddhist Art, flourished in Northern India by another Inner Asian people, Kushans, happened in Turfan since Xth century. This artistic revival in the old Buddhist center depends highly on the stress of the Buddhahood and paradise themes, highlighted by R. Petrucci and E. Esin as being the first artistic representations ever. Pranidhi scenes, which was recently dated back to Kızıl wall paintings from Vth century by I. Konczak, gained their gigantic dimensions with Uygur Buddhist art. The emphasized artistic themes and their new representations have strong links with old Turkic culture and religion, which shaped mainly Turks’ beliefs survived even after their adoption to other religions. Manichaean art themes and symbol partly impacted Uygur Buddhist art too. In this paper, will try to analyze the emergence of some important Turfan Buddhist artistic themes and symbols and its links to the past.
Haiyan HU-VON HINÜBER
Buddhist Procession and Performance in Central Asia and North India in the 5th Century - According to Faxian´s Travel Report.
The Chinese Buddhist monk and scholar Faxian (approx. 342-423) set forth on travels from China in 399. He reached India over central Asia (today China, Afghanistan and Pakistan). During his 14 years long travels Faxian visited almost all Buddhist sacred sites, where he also had the opportunity to observe Buddhist procession and performance. Thus, Faxian´s travel report Foguoji (compiled in 414) contains the earliest references to the religious life, art and rituals once practiced in these countries.
The focus of my paper is Faxian´s description of ritually procession and theater art of Bud¬dhists in the beginning of the 5th century. In comparison with later accounts such as written by Xuanzang e.g., who traveled to India roughly 230-250 years later (629-645), the historical development in Central Asia and North India will be obvious.
The first passage from the Foguoji, which will be discussed in details, deals with an im¬pres¬sive Buddhist procession, which Faxian attended in the kingdom Khotan, the former Mahāyā¬na centre in Central Asia.
Furthermore, six years after Faxian left China, he finally arrived in Mathurā in the year 405/406, when the Gupta Empire was flourishing under King Candragupta II (375-413/415). Faxian´s report on the Buddhist community in North India is of particular importance. In this regard, I would like to stress only one point, namely the oldest account for the performance of the Buddhist plays; Faxian might have watched the Śāriputraprakaraṇa when he attended a Pra¬vā¬ra¬ṇa ceremony, which largely took place in Mathurā together with a folk festival.
Buddhoṣṇīṣa-vijayā-dhāraṇī wall-paintings in Dunhuang caves and their religio-political aspects.
The Sanskrit Buddhoṣṇīṣa-vijayā-dhāraṇī-sūtra (Sūtra of the dhāraṇī of the victory from the Buddha’s head-summit) was first made known in Tang capital, Chang’an c. 679 AD.
Within 32 years, it was translated five times into Chinese. The first, second and fourth translations were made by the translation bureau of the Tang imperial court. The renowned pilgrim Yijing did the fifth in 710, most likely from the Sanskrit text brought back by him from India. Of these five translations, one only was circulated and copied all over the China and even beyond, the third one, the preface of which states that the manuscript of the Sanskrit text was brought in 683 to Chang’an by an Indian Brahman called Buddhapālita.
Buddhapālita, who had come for the second time to China, had the sūtra translated into Chinese with the help of a Chinese monk called Shunzhen. Within less than ten years, Buddhapālita’s translation was engraved on a wall of a Longmen cave near by Luoyang. The inscription is dated 692. From 702 on, this same translation was engraved, some times with its preface, on the so called “Buddhoṣṇīṣa-vijayā-dhāraṇī pillars” erected almost all over China, and also in Korea, Vietnam and Japan. At about the same time (early eighth century), the sūtra and Buddhapālita’s story were the subject of several wall-paintings in Dunhuang caves.
In the middle of the tenth century, two wall-paintings representing the Buddhoṣṇīṣa-vijayādhāraṇī
sūtra were commissioned by three local Dunhuang Cao rulers, each one in a newly excavated Dunhuang cave. This paper will discuss different interpretations of these wallpaintings and try to find their hidden religio-political motivations.
The Fourteenth-Century Re-birth of Tibetan Historiography after the Period of Mongol Hegemony
Tibetan national historiography changed enormously after the twelfth century. the Mongol empire offered Tibetan Buddhists a new means of both self-legitimisation and narrating the past, and the gradual decline of Buddhism in India left Tibet as a key holder of the flame. The fall of the first period of Mongol hegemony in Tibet (1240–1340s) saw a revival of historiography in the fourteenth century that I wish to explore in this paper.
Mongolian literature offered new, foreign paradigms of national identity, power and patronage to Tibetan religious leaders and later historians. Some schools jostling for Mongolian patronage had already rewritten their histories to legitimise their own Indian lineages. Mongolian forms of writing also influenced other histories, such as the Deb ther dmar po (1346–1363). Others, such as the rGyal rabs gsal ba’i me long of 1368, positioned itself between the Mongols and the Phag mo gru pa, while emphasising Tibet’s older indigenous traditions.
The main focus of this presentation, however, is the Padma bka’ thang “discovered” by O rgyan gling pa (b. 1323). This (auto)biography of the eighth-century Indian master, Padmasambhava, offered readers in this period as well as the later biographical tradition a new vision of its protagonist as the predestined and eternally fully enlightened saviour of Tibet. O rgyan gling pa incorporated the twelfth-century Zangs gling ma into its bKa' thang. Yet he also expanded the opening section to encompass a wider geographical and cosmological worldview, and added Padmasambhava’s detailed poetic prophecies of the difficult times ahead for Tibetans under Mongol-Sa skya hegemony. These details offer insights into the relationship between O rgyan gling pa and the Phag mo gru pa’s Byang chub rgyal mtshan (1302/3–1364), about which later tradition offers different opinions.
An exploration and philological comparison of the narratives in all these histories can lastly show how fourteenth-century Tibetans reinvented their history in divergent ways to suit a new post-Mongol cultural outlook, and find their place in the world again.
Daniele CUNEO and Camillo FORMIGATTI
The Malla Renaissance : towards a Literary and Cultural History of Nepal in the 14th-18th Centuries.
The importance of the Nepalese manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library collections has already been recognized by many scholars, mostly thanks to the Catalogue of the Buddhist Manuscripts (1883) by C. Bendall, and more recently to the Sanskrit Manuscripts Project, Cambridge. The importance of colophons for the reconstruction of the history of Mediaeval Nepal cannot be underestimated. In fact, colophons (and inscriptions) rectify the information on the dynasties and their dating given by the other main source for Nepalese history, i.e. the Vaṃśāvalīs, “Genealogical lists”. According to these sources, the history of
Nepal can be roughly divided into four main periods:
1. Licchavi and cognate dynasties (c. 386-750 AD)
2. Transitional period and Karṇāta-Malla dynasty (c. 750-1482)
3. The three Malla kingdoms (1482-1768)
4. The Gorkha dynasty (after 1768).
The present paper is the first step in the a larger project —to be submitted to the AHRC, the ERC or a similar institution— in which we would like focus on the cultural history of the third period of Nepalese history, the “three Malla kingdoms” (1482- 1768). However, we plan to examine also the end of “the transitional period and Karṇāta-Malla dynasty” (c. 750-1482), since we think it is necessary to start our study with the reign of king Jayasthitimalla (1382-1395), for two reasons: first, during our cataloguing work we noticed that the CUL hosts unique manuscripts of unpublished Sanskrit works composed in Nepal during this period. Second, a dynastic change occurs with Jayasthitimalla, which marks a cultural change as well in terms of a strong revival of a sort of brahmanical orthodoxy. The aim of the project is to investigate the political empowerment and cultural legitimisation of the Malla dynasty through its linking to a mythological and poetical past, revived through the study of literary classics and the production of new literary works. This cultural enterprise will be investigated through the philological studies of some instances of ornate poetry (kāvya) and through the analysis of manuscript production and diffusion. In particular, among the numerous dramas composed from the time of Jayasthitimalla’s reign onwards, many of which are re adaptations of Rāma’s story, the present paper will focus on the Rāmāṅkanāṭikā by Dharmagupta (1360 CE), of which the Cambridge University Library preserves the autograph. Furthermore, the continuous interest for Rāma’s story in the Malla period is also witnesses by the numerous manuscripts of the Raghuvaṃśa produced up to the 17th century, as well as by the composition of commentaries, like the one by Vaidyaśrīgarbha, whose preliminary study will occupy the second part of our paper.
Aspiring to Enlightenment: Practicing Purification in Postsocialist Mongolia.
Before the socialist period Buddhist institutions were the custodians of enlightenment, reincarnation lineages, and of the knowledge and practices needed to become enlightened. In the 1930s, as the socialist government brutally repressed Buddhism, the term enlightenment (gegeerel) was appropriated to mean secular education (Sneath 2009). As such, enlightenment was no longer under the control of the monasteries and high lamas. It became a pursuit not only available to all Mongolians but morally incumbent upon them.
This talk will discuss how enlightenment in the Buddhist sense, once restricted to temples in the presocialist period, and suppressed, coopted and mystified during socialism (Højer 2009), is now a concept that, although confusing and contested, is available to many urban Mongolians. It will describe how Mongolian ideas about enlightenment are often related to ideas about purification, and, with the introduction of countless New Religious Movements and Christianity, is no longer simply the domain of high lamas within Buddhist institutions. The city now contains, amongst a plethora of others, several vegetarian New Religious Movements offering purification through meditation and the eating of vegetarian or ‘white foods’ (tsagaan hool).
Galina SYCHENKO and Alisa ZOLOTUKHINA
Phurdok ritual (PHUR-PA PUJA) and reconstruction of the Hyolmo Identity.
Ritual Phurdok (phur-pa puja) was renewed by spiritual leaders of one of the Hyolmo communities (Boudnath, Kathmandu, Nepal) about one decade ago, and now it became an important part of the identity of this Hyolmo lineage.
Field research by the authors (2007, 2009 and 2012) allowed gathering rich audio, video and photo materials on the ritual, as well as oral information on its meaning, mythology, history and sacred geography.
Ritual Phurdok ideally should last for 9 days, but in reality it lasted 5 (2007) and 4 (2012) days only. Music and text, visual arts and sculpture represent all forms of traditional Tibetan arts typical for arrangement of a ritual.
Authors are going to concentrate on the musical part of the ritual and to examine its musical structure which directly corresponds with a meaning of the ‘mantras and tantras’ (as our informants call the sacred texts recited during the ritual). General musical organization of the ritual fits Tibetan musical theory, so the question about relationship between the Hyolmo’s ritual practice and traditional musical theory was one of the most important. During the last expedition we were lucky to get some more information on this subject.
Our studying of the musical organization of a concrete ritual confirms Ter Ellingson’s opinion about rich vocal repertoire of Tibetan ritual music (Ellingson 1979: 112). Moreover we may stay that music of the Phurdok ritual represents one of the numerous local variants of the Great tradition.
The Importance of being a beyul: Landscape, Buddhism, Shamanism and Identity among the Nepal´s Hyolmo.
The valley of Helambu is becoming the focus of a local Buddhist revival, tied to the identity awareness movement of the Hyolmo of Nepal. Buddhism is at the forefront of their movement, and it is through a Buddhist framework that they conceive their specific identity vis-à-vis Nepalese state, civil society and neighboring communities. In fact they trace back their origin as a community to the opening of the beyul by tertön Ngagchang Shakya Zangpo in the 15th century, and the establishment of temples and shrines over a sacred geography prepared and configured by Padmasambhava and Milarepa. The legacy of the Buddhist masters of the past is still alive and even growing, since the identity movement relies and try to exploit the religious value inherent in the Buddhist heritage: many places related to the activities of the Buddhist saints are recovered to the cult and worship of the believers not only on a local scale, attracting foreign pilgrims and visitors, too. At the same time, the revival of Buddhism as the key factor to assert identity is putting pressure to the followers of the Hyolmo shamanic non-Buddhist religion to conform and to normalize, leading to the dismissal of several rituals and to the further marginalization of the shamanic bombo on a social, ritual and religious level.
Bhakti and Shamanism: Josmani Influence on the New Kiranti Religion.
Though Kiranti religion is still largely an oral tradition, the importance of script and writing is increasing since the last decades. It is well known that the Satyahangma movement of Phalgunanda Lingden, a Limbu religious reformer from Panchthar in East Nepal, has been a driving force in this development. Taking inspiration from developments in Darjeeling he propagated the use of the Srijanga script as the symbol of the reformed Kiranti religion, which still retains certain shamanic features. What is less well known is the important influence which the Josmani, a Bhakti “sect” which had spread throughout Nepal in the 19th century, had on this movement. The Josmani had started as a Brahmanic Sant tradition but increasingly opened up to the lower castes, including many Rai and Limbu, for whom it was a novel encounter with a reformed religion. Phalgunanda grew up with these ideas and apparently integrated them in his movement. The Josmani tradition became regarded as “oppositional” during the Rana times and therefore its followers were often prosecuted. Some escaped to Sikkim, where we still find a relatively large community. The paper looks at the religious sites and shrines of both Josmani and followers of Phalgunanda as well as his successor Atmananda. It is based on research in Panchthar and Southern Sikkim.
Royal inthronisation rites from Commagene to the Kushans and beyond.
From the early 1st century AD onwards, the Kushans had themselves installed from Bactria down to the Ganges valley. With the growth of their imperium they developed a sense for how others should perceive their grandeur. Parts of this management of perception included their large family sanctuaries in Bactria and Mathura. Power was said to have been conferred on them through the gods, with one female deity being pivotal; Nana. This deity first occurs on the coinage of Kaniska and on texts describing his accession to the throne. To understand how Nana became active we have to understand a very similar procedure which was first applied in Commagene in the first century BC. The comparison shows how we can understand the astral nature of Nana and how her activity was turned into a spectacle that could have reached and impressed a wide public.
Under Kanishka's son Huvishka, Nana seems to have lost her consecrating function, being replaced by a male deity. Nonetheless, Nana continued her activity in Kashmir and north of the Himalaya in Sogdiana with an iconography directly drawn from Huviskha's Nana on Lion. It may be suspected that not only the iconography remained the same in Sogdiana and beyond but also her function as marker of a particular date of the year, particularly important for rulers.
Timurid Neo-Renaissance in Independent Uzbekistan after 1991.
After 1991 political and cultural elites of independent Uzbekistan adopted Amir Timur (1336-1405) as the epitomy of Uzbek national identity. Timurid heritage, in turn, became the visual protagonist of a nationalist rhetoric. As a result, in 1996 the surviving Timurid monuments were restored for the celebrations of Timur's 660th birthday and later on in the 2000s for the 2750th anniversary of Timur’s capital Samarqand. With the alluring persona of Timur used as a symbol, meaning is produced through Timurid artefacts, i.e. architectural monuments. In this sense, their architectural and epigraphic restorations foreground the link between politics and symbolism within the ethno-nationalistic discourse. Timurid architecture, as part of the country’s “golden heritage”, is used to boost the Uzbek population’s sense of belonging and pride through the construction of an ethno-national identity.
The socio-political importance of Timurid monuments and their post-Soviet restorations remain largely unstudied. The latest Uzbek study The Architecture of the Timurids (Shukur Askarov 2009) stages Uzbekistan as the cradle of Renaissance across Eurasia. Tsarist and Soviet restoration policies towards Timurid architecture have been discussed in articles by Charles Shaw (2011), Igor Demchenko (2011) and Svetlana Gorshenina (2013, 2014), but they do not cover the post-Soviet period and in particular the new architectural additions.
In this paper, I discuss the recently restored Timurid dynastic mausoleum of Gur-i Amir with a special focus on the newly created epigraphy.
Sacred geography of Kyrgyzstan: linking spirituality and arts.
The long-term study of the sacred sites in Kyrgyzstan conducted by Aigine Cultural Research Centre in 2005-2014, has resulted in shaping the Sacred Geography of the country. Sacred Geography is a cultural and natural phenomenon in one representation. It is an assembly of sacred territories where people make a pilgrimage. These places are areas of dry land, water, buildings and things exhibiting features of sacredness in local community's perception. This paper is aimed at conceptualizing the phenomenon of sacred sites pilgrimage from two angles: studying diversity, meanings and functionality of rituals carried out at sacred sites and understanding the role of rituals and beliefs in development of artwork.
The Qalandar Khona in Khujand facing the wave of Islamization.
Sufi orders have long played a central role in Central Asia; mainly the Naqshbandi but also Qalandar Sufi orders were taking over the spiritual lead of the population. In urban centres religious lineages were at the same time spiritual leaders as they were political leaders and economic players. This was also the case in Khujand, a city at the door of the Ferghana valley in Central Asia. The qalandar khona (house of the qalandar) is one of the places where a Tūra lineage cared for sick and elderly people. The women of this qalandar family held a central role in this context looking after sometimes hundreds of people staying insider their compound. They also conducted rituals like the bib seshanbe social events which were widespread in the lower lands of the Bukharan Emirate. In these rituals women found relieve from their problems, asked for assistance for future tasks and socialized with other women in an otherwise masculine controlled public space. While the qalandar khona was stripped of its authority as caring and political institution with the arrival of the Bolsheviks, the women, that is, the daughters and sisters of the Tūra qalandar family, continued to receive women every Wednesday and at demand. Secretly, as well from their husbands as from political authorities, they came to the house of the qalandar in order to lit a candle and take blessings.
Since independence the qalandar khona has become a public place again visited by several hundred women every Wednesday performing the bibi seshanbe ritual. This ritual is thought of as Islamic ritual but is shaped by the women in a creative way. Candles are lit, women bring water, cloths, bread, money purses, photographs and many other items that they open before them in order to receive blessings. I attended the ritual every Wednesday for two months witnessing the ritual and the constant changes introduced by the women. Every Wednesday the bibi otin explained that all they do is in line with Islam, that nothing is sorcellery here. The very fact that they had to tell this, reflects the aggression they experience today. In fact, the mullahs of the main mosque had launched a campaign along with the state to ban such rituals of women, declaring them shirk. The women were constantly being aggressed by the new masculine Islamic fashion that sees its main enemy in such rituals.
Russian scholars have played their part in this process not as religious authorities but as ethnographers taking apart rituals into different elements. One of the exercises was to define shamanic elements in Islamic rituals. Thus the Islamization wave that we can currently observe in Central Asia uses ethnographic arguments as well as arguments from various religious reform movements, most of them with a Wahhabi character even if not necessarily openly linked to this school. In this paper I will first present a short visual impression of the ritual and then discuss the new wave of Islamization in Central Asia and its creation of an enemy, the Sufi women and their ritual practices.
Mapping Bukhara. Understanding Urban Neighbourhood Principles in the Light of Soviet Ethnographic Reports
Ethnographic expeditions enjoyed government patronage in both Imperial and Soviet Russia.
Their reports were a valuable source of knowledge about the Empire’s remote areas. Their importance thus increased in the aftermath of imperial expansion, as they helped to administer the newly acquired areas. As such, they can be seen as a communication between a Russian metropolis that belonged within European civilization, and a growing colonial periphery. In contrast to the maritime colonization of the western powers, frequently associated with brutality and violence, Russian colonization of Asiatic territories was overland and seen as an organic process referred to as “the construction of geographical space”1. And the colonies were not far away domains, but supported a constant flux of people, material culture and ideologies. The ethnographic reports under discussion in the proposed paper focus on the period following the Soviet acquisition of Bukhara in 1920. They could be the result of short-term assignments, and take the form of qualified memoranda by government emissaries. But they could also rely on long-term academic research and appear as scholarly works. The latter will be discussed here. I will scrutinize a report in which the entanglement between craft-oriented industries and urban neighborhoods is central. Sponsored by the Academy of Sciences, it was assembled as a piece of scholarly research animated with a view to reorganize labour along Marxist principles, which de facto meant organizing a new society, in a place that the Bolshevik elites considered an Oriental backwater. I will show how the reports serve as a prerequisite to understand the entanglements between Russia’s European and Asiatic part, and more specifically, the rhythms and mechanisms of communication between Muscovite center and Oriental periphery in the twentieth century.
Revival of Miniature Painting In Post-Soviet Tajikistan: An Artistic Renaissance Heralded By Olim Kamalov
Tajikistan, the smallest republic of Post-Soviet Central Asia has a strong Persian lineage and therefore a rich heritage of miniature painting. This specific style of painting was largely popularized in the pre-modern Muslim world of Arab, Persia, Egypt, Turkey , Central Asia and India. However, with the advent of Western modernism of some or other variant in the previous century this style lost its relevance and receded to the museum walls as a phenomenon of the bygone days. But the legacy of Kamaloddin Behzod, a 16th Century painter and his immortal creations were strong enough to be reinvigorated. His works as independent pieces of art as well as illustrations for treasured manuscripts are preserved in British Museum, Museums of St. Peter’s Burg, Egypt and many other places. His place of origin was Mavrunnahar ( a cultural space embracing large parts of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan) , that rendered him as a collective heritage of all three nations today. After the fall of the Soviet power in 1991, there had been much initiative to revive the Behezod school of art in Uzbekistan under state initiative.In Tajikistan also the name of Behezod received much acknowledgement and veneration and the National Museum of Art was named after him. But, the real initiative to revive his style in miniature art was taken up by an individual Tajik painter Olim Kamalov. His paintings are the modern day attributes to Behezod that carry exotic oriental flavor, the message of the bygone days, yet thrive at contemporary thematic and creative reorientation. Miniature paintings are known as ‘mino’ in Tajik-Persian language. Olim Kamalov founded an Academy of Mino Art that began to produce a number of promising artists agile in ’ mino’ style. On the context of cultural renaissance of Central Asia their story of reviving a legacy of a forgotten tradition deserves a respectful space.
Les communications présentées au Colloque de Vienne de novembre 2013 seront publiées par l'Académie des Sciences de Vienne dans un volume intitulé Interaction in the Himalaya and Central Asia: Process of Transfer, Translation and Transformation in Art, Archeology , Religion and Polity.
Table des matières
I. Transfer and Interaction in Central Asia and Tibet
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.
Religious Revivals and Artistic Renaissance in Central Asia and the Himalayan Region – Past and Present
November 16 — 18, 2015
Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg Hauptstrasse 242, 69117 Heidelberg
Organizing Committee Paris
Frantz Grenet (President of SEECHAC)
Marie Lecomte Tilouine
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
18:00 — 20:00
09:15 — 09:45 Opening Addresses
Frantz Grenet (President of SEECHAC) Birgit Kellner (University Heidelberg)
09:45 — 10:30
Marion Wettstein: Dancing in the Hills: A Comparative View on the ‘Renaissance’ of ‘Folk-Traditions’ in the Eastern Himalayas
10:30 — 11:15 Mélanie Vandenhelsken: Religious Changes and Political Agency in Sikkim
11:15 — 11:45
11:45 — 12:30
Clea Chakraverty: Donyi-Polo, a Reformist and Revival ‘Tribal’ and ‘Indigeneous’ Religion in Arunachal Pradesh, North-East India: Two Approaches to Discuss
12:30 — 13:15 Jonathan Samuels: Religious Revival or Religious Conversion? Questioning Representations of Religion and Ethnicity in the Tibetan Borderlands: The Tamang People of Nepal
13:15 — 14:30 Lunch Break
14:30 — 15:15 Joona Repo: The Pure Dga’ ldan Lineage: ‘The Revival Movement’ of Pha bong kha bde chen snying po
15:15 — 16:00 Markus Viehbeck: Religious Revival in 19th Century Tibet and the Spread of a Mahāyāna Classic
16:00 — 16:30 Coffee Break
16:30 — 17:15 Clara Ma: Early Regionalization in Western Himalayas: Development of Mahākāla Images in Alchi
17:15 — 18:00 Marialaura Di Mattia: The Artistic Renaissance in the Early Ladakhi Temples — the Instance of the Marvellous Wood-Carvings at the Alci Chos ’khor
18:00 — 19:00
Christian Luczanits: Processes of Revival in Himalayan Art: Imagining Kashmir and Nepal in the 15th and 17th Centuries
19:00 — 20:00
Reception at IWH
09:00 — 09:45
Ebru Zeren: An Analytical Approach to the Contribution of Uygurs in the Renaissance of Mahāyāna Art in Turfan
09:45 — 10:30 Haiyan Hu-von Hinüber: Buddhist Procession and Performance in Central Asia and North India in the 5th Century — According to Faxian’s Travel Report
10:30 — 11:15 Liying Kuo: Buddhoṣṇīṣa-vijayā-dhāraṇī Wall-paintings in Dunhuang Caves and Their Religio-political Aspects
11:15 — 11:45 Coffee Break
11:45 — 12:30 Lewis Doney: The Fourteenth-Century Re-birth of Tibetan Historiography after the Period of Mongol Hegemony
12:30 — 13:15 Daniele Cuneo & Camillo Formigatti: The Malla Renaissance: Towards a Literary and Cultural History of Nepal in the 14th-18th Centuries
13:15 — 14:30
14:30 — 15:15
Christiane Brosius: ‘Out here’ No more: Exploring Nepali Contemporary Art Production
15:15 — 16:00 Galina Sychenko & Alisa Zolotukhina: Phurdok Ritual (Phur-pa Puja) and Reconstruction of the Hyolmo Identity
16:00 — 16:30 Coffee Break
16:30 — 17:15 Davide Torri: The Importance of Being a Beyul: Landscape, Buddhism, Shamanism and Identity among the Nepal’s Hyolmo
17:15 — 18:00 Martin Gaenszle: Bhakti and Shamanism: Josmani Influence on the New Kiranti Religion
18:00 — 19:00
Harry Falk: Royal Inthronisation Rites from Commagene to the Kushans and Beyond
19:15 Dinner (Participants)
09:00 — 09:45 Laurianne Bruneau: In Between Kashmir and Xinjiang: Buddhist Remains of the Nubra Region, Ladakh. Results of the Indo-French Archaeological Mission in Ladakh
09:45 — 10:30 Elena Paskaleva: Timurid Neo-Renaissance in Independent Uzbekistan after 1991
10:30 — 11:15 Gulnara Aitpaeva: Sacred Geography of Kyrgyzstan: Linking Spirituality and Arts
11:15 — 11:45 Coffee Break
11:45 — 12:30 Sophie Roche: The Qalandar Khona in Khujand Facing the Wave of Islamization
12:30 — 13:15 Suzanne Marten-Finnis: Mapping Out Bukhara — Ethnographic Reports for the Soviet Reorganization of Labour
13:15 — 14:30 Lunch Break
14:30 — 15:15 Nandini Bhattacharya: Revival of Miniature Painting in Post-Soviet Tajikistan: An Artistic Renaissance Heralded by Olim Kamalov
15:15 — 16:00 Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko: Aspiring to Enlightenment: Practicing Purification in Postsocialist Mongolia
16:00 — 16:30 Closing Remarks
16:30 — 17:00 Coffee
SEECHAC (Société Européenne pour l’Étude des Civilisations de l’Himalaya et de l’Asie Centrale, European Society for the Study of Himalayan and Central Asiatic Civilizations) and the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”
invite abstracts for the
FOURTH INTERNATIONAL SEECHAC COLLOQUIUM
«Religious Revivals and Artistic Renaissance in Central Asia and the Himalayan Region – past and present»
16 to 18 November 2015
Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abstracts for papers of no more than 20 lines should be submitted to email@example.com before 31 January 2015.
President of SEECHAC
Organizing Committee Heidelberg
L’ACADEMIE DES SCIENCES DE VIENNE
SALLE DU COLLOQUE – CONFERENCE ROOM
PAUSE CAFE - COFFEE BREAK
Président de la SEECHAC
DINER AU PALMHAUS RESTAURANT - DINER AT PALMHAUS RESTAURANT
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.
Department of Inner Asian Studies, University ELTE Budapest
Text and image between in the Himalayas and Inner Asia – The Mongolian Case
The traditional and innovative sacred texts and images associated with them play a more and more important role in the contemporary religious practices (shamanic, folk religious and Buddhist rituals) of various Mongolian ethnic groups. There is a rich textual tradition of syncretic Buddhist practice based on translation from Tibetan (and to a lesser extent from other languages) enriched with motifs of local cultic tradition on one hand, and text-related images of foreign origin incorporating Mongolian elements, on the other hand.
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”.
CNRS-Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (UMR 8582). Paris
On some numinous icons and their replicas in Mongol Buddhism
The present paper focuses on some especially numinous Buddhist items such as “true portraits” and “living icons” worshiped by Mongols from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century. Some were (believed to have been) made in Ancient India or in Tibet and contain holy relics, while others were self-generated icons (acheiropoietos, made by hands other than those of ordinary mortals, or descended from sky/heaven), or imprints of original footprints, handprints etc. of Buddhas and deities. The devotion to these icons is said to be identical to the devotion to Buddha or a bodhisattva in person: they are privileged, direct and tangible access to the “original.” Drawing on art historians’ studies on “true,” “living” icons (Walther Benjamen, David Freedberg, Hans Belting, Richard Davis, Robert Sharf, Patricia Berger), I will question the power and charisma of these icons and of their reproductions (the claim of authenticity of the surviving statues will not be discussed here), and raise the following questions: How to produce an authentic icon? Could an authentic image be “copied true” and retain the same power and miraculous properties? What exactly must be replicated to ensure that a branch icon retains the potency of the original? At last, what are the written and oral accounts, stories and legends that support the claims of authenticity of these icons and propagate their narratives? (My main sources here are two pilgrimage guidebooks to two of these icons, written respectively in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Rölpe Dorje’s guidebook to the Sandalwood Lord, and the guidebook to the Juu Shākyamuni of the Yekhe Juu of Ordos written in 1849).
PhD candidate, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris
Charting ancient routes in Ladakh: An archaeological documentation
Communication routes have played an important role in the history of Ladakh, crafting its identity as a country at the crossroads. Through them a range of influences reached the region, visible in its archaeological heritage such as rock art, temples and fortifications.
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.
Transforming Tibetan kingship
This presentation re-evaluates Tibetan history in the light of the impact of the transfer of Buddhism into Tibet. It focuses on their portrayal of Khri Srong lde brtsan (742–c.800), whether as a Tibetan emperor, a Buddhist king or a tantric disciple. The influence of the foreign religion is present from the start. Imperial texts depict him as a great Tibetan emperor (btsan po), endowed with the authority of his ancestors. Yet the inscriptions at Brag lha mo and ’Phyongs rgyas also describe him as a bodhisattva, leading many of his subjects towards enlightenment. Post-imperial sources, found in the Mogao caves of Dunhuang, transform the emperor into a Dharma king. They identify him with idealised Indic royal predecessors like Aśoka or King Tsa. Twelfth-century histories, such as the sBa bzhed and Nyang ral Nyi ma ’od zer’s (1124–1192) Zangs gling ma, remember him as the patron and pupil of spiritually superior Buddhist masters. One Indic tantric master, Padmasambhava, even blames the king’s lack of faith for the future decline of the Dharma. These religious figures gradually displace the king as the central protagonists of his life history. This presentation thus uncovers the concerns that lie beneath early portrayals of Khri Srong lde brtsan. These include self-presentation, lineage legitimisation and complex relationships with the “golden age” of empire. The transformation of Khri Srong lde brtsan in Buddhist histories depends upon seismic shifts affecting Tibetan culture, including the cult of religious figures and the influx of Indian literary genres into Tibet.
University of Vienna
„Homecoming into the Mountains and emerging from the Mountains“: A Major Theme in the Buddhist Art of Kucha/Xinjiang
It has long been an enigma, why the Buddhist art of Kucha in Central Asia (from around 450 – 900 A.D.) and especially its mural paintings in many hundreds of stone caves shows such a variety and dense depiction of mountainous landscapes in painting and sculpture, not seen anywhere else during this time in such recurring prominence. Since the Buddhist art of Central Asia during this stage of development had no interest in depicting landscapes or mountains as such (l’art pour l’art), but was mainly occupied with the promulgation of the Buddhist “truth” in pictures, the mountains depicted there can only be interpreted in this light. This paper ventures to unravel the mystery of the mountain-theme by drawing attention to the close economic, cultural and social ties linking the art of Kucha to the pre-Buddhist regions of ancient Iran and Central Asia, where similar mythological ideas and resulting ritual habits lead to a common iconography. Three very ancient cultures were mainly responsible for this: The proto- and old Elamic culture of Southwest Iran (flourishing 3000 – 2600 B.C. in Susiana and Fars), the Kerman culture in Southeast Iran directly bordering it (about 2700 – 2000 B.C.), and the Bactrian culture of Afghanistan and Southern Turkmenia (around 2500 -1800 B.C.). The mythological ideas and ensuing rites of those ancient times based on the veneration of interacting gods/goddesses and heroes remained virulent, and were later translated into the Buddhist iconography of Bactria, as can be observed in the seals of the Kushana Period from Central Asia. From here, this iconography was transmitted to Kucha in today’s Xinjiang. At the bottom of the Buddhist mountain depictions in Kucha thus lies the ancient myth of the hero (Etana) who is sent into the mountains initially by the god (Shamash) and later by a goddess to procure a means for the survival of the royal dynasty from heaven. The goddess is often symbolized by specific animals (i.e. the eagle, the snake, the lion, or the scorpion), or a vessel carrying the water of life, or a tree as a symbol of the axis mundi or paradise, and most important for our context: the symbol of the mountain. Mountains, while generally considered the abode of the gods from most ancient times on, also function as a place where to the hero can withdraw in order to fulfil his destiny. Thus, in the Buddhist context of Kucha, mountains become the abode for the initial “homecoming” of the Buddha, as they will finally furnish the scenario for his “emergence from the mountains“ (jap.: shussan shaka).
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Reconstructing the Early Structure of the Khorchag Monastery, Purang, Western Tibet
Along with the monasteries of Nyarma and Tholing, the Khorchag monastery in Purang may be mentioned as one of the first three monastic sites of Western Tibet established at the end of the 10th century CE by a member of Western Tibet's royal dynasty. Field research in 2010, together with Tsering Gyalpo, Christian Jahoda and Christiane Kalantari, offered the possibility to explore the architecture of Khorchag monastery. The hypothesis regarding what once constituted the former layout of the site and the temples’ earlier structure is based on detailed documentation of the existing construction, including the survey of the entire complex. Its appearance today narrates a constructive history of continuous transformations, from an original structural core towards a massive contemporary complex, each phase of extension related to a certain constructive method.
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.
Finbarr Barry Flood
New York University. New York
Transcultural Elements in Twelfth-century Himalayan Art: A Comparative Perspective
Since they were first brought to the attention of art historians, the murals of Alchi have attracted considerable interest for their inclusion of both Indic and Islamicate elements. The Alchi paintings provide a tangible trace of pre-modern patterns of circulation known from textual sources, in which artefacts, artisans, materials and techniques appear to have been remarkably mobile, even in what are often described as 'remote' regions of the medieval world.
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'.
Collège de France, Paris
The Deydier vase and its Tibetan connections: a preliminary note
A gilded silver vase now in the Deydier art gallery in Paris shows hunters on the back of an elephant and a camel, as well as frightening guardian gods and various animals both real and fantastic. It was reportedly acquired by Paul Pelliot in China before the war. A note and photos have been published last year in the Catalogue of the gallery, and in last October at a conference at the Hermitage Museum a paper on this object was presented by M. Men’shikova and A. Nikitin, who proposed to recognize an episode of Shiva’s legend and to attribute the vase to expatriated Sogdian artists working in the 6th c., possibly in Khotan. The present paper tries to demonstate that the vase belongs to the Tibetan court production of the 8th c. and presents strong similarities with several vessels in the Pritzker collection (studied by Boris Marshak whose Catalogue is being prepared for publication). The Indian iconographic component does not stem from Shivaism but from Mahayana Buddhism, and was transmitted through China. These themes were reworked for the sake of royal propaganda, in a manner very similar to the « Red Hall » paintings at Varakhsha dating from the 730’s.
Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences
The Tibetan Tumulus Tradition: About New Discoveries in Central Tibet
The beginning of the construction of burial mounds in Tibet can be dated at least to the 4th century CE and it ends in the early 10th century, when after the collapse of the Tibetan Empire (c.600-850 CE) the royal graves were plundered. The area with the highest density of tumuli fields is Central Tibet, the Bod of the imperial period and core region of the early Tibetan civilization. Here we find numerous square (usually trapezoidal) structures of enormous size, of which those of the royal cemeteries and of a few other fields have long been well known to the research. However, today a total of about 200 fields can be registered for Central Tibet, of which the vast majority have not yet been documented. Dozens of fields with imposing barrows were discovered in the course of recent fieldworks by the author and his Tibetan colleagues, others we know from information based on satellite imagery. The findings are the result of long-standing historical and ethnographic surveys of the history of the Empire, especially here relating to the history of the Tibetan clans, in whose erstwhile homelands these unique monuments historically and geographically are located. The findings formed the opening of a research project at our institute, which started this year, and the present meeting provides a good opportunity to present and discuss some of the results achieved so far. It will refer to the issue of the territorial distribution of the fields, the outer appearances of the sites (architectural features, topographical and settlement archaeological specifics), the social and political context, and not least the complex of the (pre-Buddhist) funeral ritual will be addressed, including here also the comparable view of other “tumulus traditions” in the Central Eurasian world.
CNRS/UMR 8155, Paris
“Three ancient illuminated Tibetan manuscripts from the Tucci collection, IsIAO”
Among the numerous manuscripts collected by Giuseppe Tucci in Tholing (1), the majority are now conserved in Los Angeles County Museum of Art. These have been attributed to Kashmiri painters of the 11th century in publications by Pal (2,3,5), although the most thorough publication by Harrison (4) raises questions about this attribution. The study of two unpublished Prajñ̄āpāramitā manuscripts conserved in IsIAO Roma sheds further light on the history of these manuscripts as a result of examining them in the context of mural paintings in Tholing, and nearby Mangnang, and portrayal of donors therein. This leads to a chronological hypothesis, indicative of distinct phases of patronage during the successive reigns of Ye shes ‘Od and Byang chub ‘Od. The third IsIAO manuscript may be compared (in terms of codicology and illuminations) with Prajñ̄āpāramita manuscripts discovered in Dolpo, C-14 date of late 11th to early 12th century (6) and in Himachal Pradesh (7,8). This period corresponds in part to the reign of rTse lde who sponsored the 1076 Religious Council at Tholing, assembling numerous Buddhist masters, scribes, translators and artists of many lands. The third IsIAO manuscript as well as the manuscripts now conserved in Dolpo and Spiti may be envisaged in this context as a repercussion, and may well have been commissioned in the aftermath of the 1076 Religious Council. The three manuscripts of IsIAO thus enrich our understanding of the issues of patronage and commission in the Guge Kingdom of Western Tibet during the 11th and early 12th century.
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.
Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin
Highland Trans-border Communities of the Eastern Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau Interface: State of the Art of Research and a Constructive Appraisal of Future Prospects
This paper introduces research on the diverse range of small highland societies who dwell at the eastern Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau interface, roughly along the current de facto boundary (often called Line of Actual in Control in India) between modern Arunachal Pradesh and the southern Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Many of these local communities straddle the modern India-China frontier zone, either actively maintaining degrees of positive contact or remaining completely isolated from one another. Two parallel research domains concerning these peoples have been generated by modern political circumstances, one largely India-based, the other Chinese, and for various reasons they are virtually never articulated. The advent in the region of a small number of independent researchers with diverse linguistic skills is a new development. Following a brief review of the state of the art of research on trans-border peoples of the eastern Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau interface, I will outline the major desiderata for future scholarship in the region, and suggest constructive proposals for building realistic international research collaborations.
Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna
Untying Old Knots - Weaving New Patterns. The Regional styles of Khartse and Khorchag in the Fabric of Early Western Himalayan Buddhist Art
The last years have brought to light in areas of historical Western Tibet (mNga’ ris) a large corpus of new documentation of temples, monasteries and cave sanctuaries with their decorative programmes that were founded by the new royal elite acting as patrons of Buddhism within the political domain of the West Tibetan kingdom. The new material transformed our knowledge of early Western Tibetan Buddhist art from the 10th to the 13th centuries. Up to now this art has been mainly associated with the long and lasting religious-artistic landscape of Kashmir and the ‘Kha che lugs’ (i.e. ‘Kashmir style’ in Tibetan terminology), which spread through itinerant artists and flows of mobile artworks. Examples of monuments and wall paintings from sacred sites in Khartse valley (Guge) and Khorchag (Purang) dating back to the formative phases of the kingdoms of Purang and Guge, and in particular early representations of mandalas, show adoptions and transformations of traditions from Nepal and Mustang. They reflect the complexity of interactions and the cosmopolitan cultural horizons that existed from the beginnings of the West Tibetan kingdom onwards and in particular the significance of this region as a contact zone of cultural exchange between Western Tibet and Nepal. Based on recent field-studies the highly refined wall paintings of temples and cave sanctuaries from these sites will be analysed uniting into a common view information from different media (wall-paintings, illuminated manuscripts, inscriptions) partly still in situ. The goal is to employ geographic and historic categories and to try to identify distinctive regional styles within the borderland principalities in the Himalayas of historic Western Tibet.
Buddhist Studies Cluster “Asia and Europe”, Heidelberg University
The Thon mi sambhoṭa Complex – on the Indian Origins of the Tibetan Writing System
According to Tibetan Buddhist historiography the Tibetan writing system was created by Thon mi
sambhoṭa, who had been dispatched to India to retrieve a script by king Srong btsan sgam po in the first half of the sixth century CE. Among the various achievements attributed to Thon mi in numerous sources we find also the authorship of the two foundational treatises of Tibetan grammar, and the translation of several Buddhist texts from Indian sources.
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.
Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna
Moving artefacts: Mongolian Tsam Figures in European Museums
Strikingly expressive, a group of twelve small wooden figures depicting characters of the Mongolian tsam ceremony are preserved in the Mongolia Collection of the Museum for Ethnology Vienna. In total these artefacts form a group of at least sixty-six tsam figures, which in part appear to have originated from one set and are today kept in several ethnography museums in Europe. During his first visit to Mongolia in 1892, the Austrian traveller-researcher Hans Leder for the first time witnessed a tsam performance in the monastery of Erdene zuu; in 1902 he sent a group of miniature tsam dancers to Europe. In my presentation I will analyse these figures, and their embeddedness in a network of relations and multiple transfers more closely. They narrate the changing history and practice of the tsam ritual in Mongolia and are themselves the result of a cultural transfer between Asia and Europe.
Directeur de recherches, CNRS, Paris
Is There a Network of Holy, Natural Gas Flames Across the Himalayas and Central Asia?
Dullu, the imperial capital of the Malla dynasty (eleventh-fourteenth c.), in western Nepal, is remarkable for its ritual enclosure made up of temples where natural gas flames burn and are worshiped in the name of Jvalaji or Vaishvanara. In the myth of origin of the flames of Dullu, these holy flames are linked to two other similar shrines: Muktinath to the East and Kangra, to the West. Inscriptions show that the Malla emperors referred to their capital city as "the area of the flames" and that they worshiped them. My contribution focuses on the characteristics of these flames and of their worship and explores the similarities and possible links with other religious centres built around natural flames in Central Asia, as far as Baku, Azerbaijan.
Mongolian University of Science and Technology. Mongolia
The Art Gallery of Nomads
A joint archeological team of Mongolia - Kazakhstan carried out an excavation work at a place named Shoroon Bumbagar of Ulaan Kherem, Bayannuur soum of Bulgan aimag, Mongolia, 2011 and discovered early nomads’ aristocrat tomb. Shoroon Bumbagar tomb of Ulaan Kherem dates back to the 7th Century AD and we are assumed that it could be built by one of the Turkic ethnic groups. We found more than 30 paintings were placed on both sides of the entrance walls and grave walls. They used stucco with red, black and blue colors to paint all pictures. We think that the mural paintings have been drawn by two painters at least. Images of 24 persons, a white lion, a blue dragon, 2 horses with saddles and bridles, a dog, 2 flags and 7 bushy trees have been drawn on both sides of the entrance walls and inside of the burial place walls too.
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.
Ciro Lo Muzio
University La Sapienza, Rome
Remarks on Some Brahmanical Deities in Buddhist Central Asian Art
Field explorations carried out during the last decades in Southern Xinjiang, particularly at Dandan Oiliq (Khotan oasis), have yielded fresh evidence on the part played by Brahmanical deities within Buddhist iconographic programmes. Siva, Karttikeya and a number of other male and, above all, female ambiguous deities provide a sort of frame to large Buddha images. An analysis of the iconographic as well as literary sources of the single divine characters and on their presentation scheme will be made with the aim to clarify such original parivāras.
Rubin Museum of Art, New York
Beneficial to See – New Observations on Early Drigung Painting
In an article of 2006, I established a first body of early Drigung paintings based on the usage of a single distinctive composition with several iconographic markers. At that time I could only hint at possible expansions of this corpus, but could not proof the affiliation decisively. Revisiting this subject for a Rubin Museum project, and incorporating the evidence of the early Ladakhi monuments this body could in the meantime not only expanded considerably, but there are also hints about the purpose and function of these paintings.
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.
German Archeological Institute, Berlin
Transfers and Interactions between North and South in Central Asia during the Bronze Age
Central Asia, during the Bronze Age (2500-1500 BCE), is characterized by a situation of multiculturalism. Several cultural entities shared this territory, as the Oxus civilization in the southern part and different "steppe" cultures (Afanasievo, Andronovo for instance) originally present in the northern part. Exchanges between these groups are known since the Early Bronze Age. An intensification of the relations occurred with the migration of the "steppe" populations towards southern Central Asia. Several influences, cultural, technical and ideological transfers are obvious, as for example on the ceramic tradition (influence on the decorations and on the manufacturing process), on the metallurgy (increase of the bronze metallurgy, connection with the trade of tin, and adoption of numerous metal items related to the "steppe" material complex) and on the burial practices (appearance of cremations and cairns) of the Oxus civilization. Conversely, any clear influence of the local populations from southern Central Asian is, at present, noticeable on the cultural features of the "steppe" groups. Besides, some sites, especially graveyards, combine, the cultural traditions of the two communities. An eventual assimilation of populations may be proposed. These phenomena occurred, particularly, during the Final Bronze Age, when the Oxus civilization underwent profound mutations before its disappearance around 1500 BCE.
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.
University of Vienna, Vienna
The Goddess Ama Yangri of Yol mo—Local Himalayan Beliefs and the High Religion of Tibetan Buddhism
A ma g.Yang ri (“Mother Auspicious Mountain”) is worshipped by the inhabitants of Yol mo north of Kathmandu, Nepal, and is central to their religious beliefs and practices. This contrasts with the broader context of Tibetan Buddhism, where she figures only as a local guardian deity entrusted by the famous Indian Buddhist tāntrika Padmasambhava with the task of protecting the hidden land “lotus grove,” which can be roughly located in the region of Yol mo. The incorporation of this popular local cult into a more universal form of religion represents an interesting example of cultural transfer. It proved to be an important strategy used by the northern treasure tradition (byang gter) founded by the Tibetan treasure finder Rig ´dzin rGod ldem ´phru can (1337-1406) to expand its influence over one of the most fertile and enchanting areas of the Nepalese Himalayas.
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).
Gudrun Melzer and Eva Allinger
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna
The Early Tibetan Cult of the Book as reflected in Early Western Tibetan Prajñāpāramitā Manuscripts
Prajñāpāramitā manuscripts seem to have formed the largest bulk of ancient western Tibetan monastic libraries. The Tibetan cult of the book has already been studied in various aspects; however, the manuscripts themselves have rarely received much scholarly attention until recently. What is it that turns them into a sacred cult object?
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.
University of Oxford, Oxford
The Previously Unknown Golden Ewer belonging to the Pritzker Collection
The previously unknown golden ewer belonging to the Pritzker Collection, presents an interesting example of the aesthetic influences of the Sassanid and Tang Empires and the Silk Road in the material culture of the Tibetan Empire. Even more importantly, however, the ewer represents the synthesis of these influences in a style that is characteristic of the Imperial Period of Tibet. I will explore how the aesthetic of the ewer exemplifies an energy and spirit unique to the explosive and short-lived Tibetan empire (7th-9th centuries). The presentation will include a detailed description of the object, alongside with images of both the ewer and other objects most closely comparable with it. The paper will also discuss the cross-cultural aesthetic influences in the creation of the object, looking at how processes of transfer and translation informed its craftsmanship, type, shape, and decorative motifs. Finally, I will highlight the characteristics that define the ewer as a distinctive object from the Tibetan royal court, reflective of the socio-political and economic context of the Tibetan Empire.
Diwakar Kumar Singh
University of Delhi, New Delhi
Rituals, Texts and Transmission: Mapping the Space between Tibet and Nalanda
The role of the Buddhist monastery in propagating Buddhist ideals has been enveloped in a variety of contexts. It is believed that the Buddhist monastery was not only associated with an isolated role of the practice and propagation of Buddhist ideas of enlightenment, rather the role was much wider and complex in fermenting the historical process. Thus, scholars in terms of facilitating the socio-economic processes such as agriculture, trade, and urbanization have largely visualized the role of monastery. The Buddhist monasteries underwent a complex transformation during the period, perceived as early medieval India (600-1200 C.E). The transformation can be seen in emergence of monasteries such as Nalanda, Vikramsila, Odantpuri, Kurkihar and Ratnagiri. The archaeological as well textual evidence bears testimony of evolution of these places as great centre for learning. Nalanda specifically acquired a significant status. The Chinese and Tibetan sources amply attests the archaeological finds of Nalanda and its complex evolution of monastery beyond the designated rubric of University- a term which has been used in modern scholarly writing. The evidence amply affirms the dynamic interactions and multiple transmissions of texts, relics, rituals and various other physical and metaphysical entities. The process of such interactions must have been complex one. However there has been a tendency to locate those interactions in monolithic and coherent configuration. The case of Tibet is one that needs a wider scholarly attention. Nalanda played a vital role in propagation of Buddhism in Buddhism in Tibet. The linguistic rendering also suggests the impact of Sanskrit in fermentation and synthesis of Tibetan Language. The hagiographical texts spell out the complex layers of those interactions. Buddhist chronicles are encoded with events and metaphors that encapsulate ontological dialogue that took place between Tibet and Nalanda. The transmission of philosophical tradition by Santraksita and Padmsambhava in Tibet is a well-documented historical fact. The present paper based on both archaeological as well textual sources locates the complex interactions of Nalanda and Tibet. It is imperative to delineate the complexity of religious processes that are often seen in terms of assimilation, appropriation and domestication of cults and rituals. The implications of such theoretical tools need to be understood in a larger historical context.
Representing Svayambhū stūpa (caitya) in paintings (Nepal)
For Nepalese Buddhists, the most important of the stūpas (called caitya in Newari) is Mahācaitya Svayambhūnāth, an important place for pilgrimage for Tibetans as well. It is known as Śengu by Newars and Nepali speakers refer to the shrine of Śimbhu, which is presumably an elided form of its classical name Svayambhū, “self existent”. The foundations of Svayambhū stūpa are linked with the mythical history of the Valley. The most popular text among Newar Buddhist is Svayambhū Purāna, which describes the creation of the Valley and the foundation of the Mahācaitya.
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.
History Department, Goldsmiths, University of London
Tibetan Medicine from Dunhuang: Notes on Transmissions of Medical Knowledge along the Silk Road
How can we begin to analyse the process of transmission of medical knowledge along the Silk Road? The Tibetan medical manuscripts discovered in Dunhuang refer either directly or indirectly to knowledge deriving from other medical traditions.
By contextualizing this material, I suggest some possible directions towards untangling questions of transmission.