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Some Remarks on Painted Coffin Panels from The Tibetan Empire and their Relation with Funerary Practices

Monday 20 June at 5.30 PM at INALCO (salle 5.28).

Conference by Shawo Khacham (China Tibetology Centre of Tibet University, Lhassa).

In 2002, a Tibetan painted coffin was for the first time unearthed in the Qinghai village of Gor-mo, Mtsho-nub prefecture. Since then, several new related discoveries have come to light. This talk will start with a general introduction to these objects and a comparison of coffins dating from the pre-imperial period with those dating from the Tibetan Empire. The presentation will focus on the latter, discussing in particular their paintings with special attention to three motives: a yurt-like tent, an amorous scene, and face painting scenes.

This presentation will show that the tent not only acted as a resting place for those attending the funerals, but – in relation to early beliefs – likely housed the corpse and spirit of the departed. Accordingly, the amorous scenes might also point to rituals linked with the rebirth and reincarnation of the deceased. Last, this presentation will argue that the face painting scenes specifically pictures mourning rituals rather than ordinary make-up practices.