Mayer et al (2017), Ancient Tantra Collection from Sangyeling

Robert Mayer and Ngawang Tsepag. 2017. ‘The Ancient Tantra Collection from Sangyeling (Sangs rgyas gling rNying ma’i rgyud ‘bum)’. Digital dataset (JPG, .txt, doc, PDF; 500GB). University of Oxford: ORA. 🔓

Abstract: This project successfully photographed all surviving 41 volumes and 16,071 pages of a rare and endangered early 18th century manuscript edition of Tibetan ‘Old Tantras’ located at Sangs-rgyas-gling dgon-pa, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Sangs rgyas gling rNying ma rgyud 'bum dkar chag first folio
Sangs rgyas gling rNying ma rgyud ‘bum dkar chag first folio: oṁ svadhi(sti)siddhaṃ |jā(jñā)najayāpariketu mitāyur | āmalaśra(śrī)karuṇatrijatoman || (sic)

Wollein (2017), The Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine

Andrea Wollein. 2017. ‘An ethnographic study of the Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine in Bhaktapur (Nepal): the relationship between people and place’. University of Vienna: M.A. thesis (Masterstudium Kultur u. Gesellschaft des neuzeitlichen Südasiens). 189 pp., 87 figures. [official notice] [author: facebook]

Mul Dipankara
Wollein (2017:165) fig.74: The tilted face of the Mūl Dīpaṅkara. Photo by the author (August 2016).

Abstract: This thesis presents locality specific research in the form of an ethnography that draws both from fieldwork and published scholarly literature. The inter-disciplinary research is contextualized within the wider field of South Asian Studies and pertains to Himalayan, Buddhist and Newar Studies as well as to Tibetology. It is specifically concerned with the socioreligious dimension of Newar Buddhist monasteries (Skrt. vihāra, New. bāhā and bahī), the Buddhist deity Dīpaṅkara and the configuration of the relationship between the two of them as found in the setting of the Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine in Bhaktapur. Continue reading “Wollein (2017), The Mūl Dīpaṅkara shrine”

Walravens & Zorin (2017), The Āli-kāli

Hartmut Walravens, Alexander Zorin. ‘The Āli-kāli Trilingual Syllabary Brought by D. G. Messerschmidt from Siberia and Edited by G. S. Bayer in 1728’. Journal of the International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies Vol. XXI, 2017 (国際仏教学大学院大学研究紀要 第 21 号 平成 29 年), 183–241. [official repo] [PDF]

Ālikālivijahāra a.k.a. Dbyangs gsal bzhugs a.k.a. Lingva Tangutica prima Elementa (Walravens & Zorin 2017:235)

Bühnemann (2015), Śākyamuni’s Return Journey to Lumbinī (lumbinīyātrā)

Bühnemann, Gudrun. 2015. Śākyamuni’s Return Journey to Lumbinī ( lumbinīyātrā ): A Study of a Popular Theme in Newar Buddhist Art and Literature. Bhairawaha, Nepal: Lumbini International Research Institute. 108 pp. ISBN: 978-9937-2-9462-1

OCLC: 922971246. Vendor:

Buehnemann - Shakyamuni's Return Journey to Lumbini
Bühnemann (2015), Śākyamuni’s Return Journey to Lumbinī

Continue reading “Bühnemann (2015), Śākyamuni’s Return Journey to Lumbinī (lumbinīyātrā)”

Sorensen, Legitimation and Innovation in Chöd (2013)

Michelle Janet Sorensen. ‘Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd Tradition’. PhD diss., Columbia Univ., 2013. [URL / PDF]

(Texts translated: Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa zab mo gcod kyi man ngag gi gzhung bka’ tshoms chen mo; Shes rab khyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag yang tshoms zhus lan ma bzhugs pa; Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag nying tshoms chos kyi rtsa ba.)

Rhie et al, ‘Tibetan Tangkas in the Mead Art Museum’ (2012)

Marylin M. Rhie; Robert A. F. Thurman, contrib.; Maria R. Heim, contrib.; Paola Zamperini, contrib.; Camille Myers Breeze, contrib. Picturing Enlightenment: Tibetan Tangkas in the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. Amherst: Mead Art Museum, August 2012. 152 pp. 71 color illus. USD$34.95. ISBN 978-0-914337-34-8. [official site]

“This lavishly illustrated book with an extensive catalogue and three essays by noted scholars, [sic] introduces the outstanding collection of eighteen Tibetan paintings in the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.” (Exhibition Catalogue.)

Bhagavan Kalacakra
Bhagavān Kālacakra. 18th c. Mead Art Museum 1952.33.

Nepalese Script in Unicode, 2: More on JTC1/WG2 N4184

Refer to: Anshuman Pandey, ‘N4184 Proposal to Encode the Newar Script in ISO/IEC 10646’, February 29, 2012 [PDF]. Previous discussion: here.

0. On the Name ‘Newar’

The name ‘Newar’ is preferable simply because most other options can be ruled out. ‘Nepalese’ is untenable, because it falsely implies a one-to-one relationship with the present-day nation-state, even though it is accurate within a certain (historically earlier) context. ‘Newari’ is a (now deprecated) name for the language – not the script, nor anything else; ‘Nevārī’ is quite meaningless, except to some Indologists.

The proposal, as I understand it, indeed deals with the Pracalita script, but has enough hooks to allow unification with proposals for other Newar scripts, such as Bhujiṅmola – hence ‘Newar’. (NB: It is not yet clear whether unification with Rañjanā – which is, strictly speaking, Indo-Nepalese, and which has a user base that includes many non-Newars, such as Tibetans – is feasible. In any case, much of the present and previous discussion about the Pracalita script is also applicable to Rañjanā.)

1. Additional Information On Glyph Names

11442 NEWAR FINAL ANUSVARA: Although this mark originates with the m-virāma mark used by East Indian scribes, in Nepal it has multivalent significance and in many contexts has nothing to do with nasalization (often being interchangeable with 1144B NEWAR GAP FILLER). Recommendation: Minimise phonetic/semantic description in favour of graphic description – maybe NEWAR SEMICOLON for want of a better term. Classify under Punctuation or Various Signs.

11443 NEWAR SIDDHI = शुभचिं (Shrestha NS 1132:21). There is no uniform name for this mark in Newar (esp. not the neologism bhiṃciṃ), nor is siddhi/añji recommended (not just because this designation is unknown in Nepal, but because usage may also vary; confusion with NEWAR OM is common). Recommendation: NEWAR AUSPICIOUSNESS MARK or similar.

11448 NEWAR COMMA = अर्धविराम (Shrestha NS 1132:24).

11449 NEWAR DOUBLE COMMA: I now think this mark can be represented with two adjacent NEWAR COMMAs. Its usual behaviour of stacking diagonally (see Fig.3) rather than horizontally should however be specified. Recommendation: Remove from the repertoire.

1144B NEWAR HIGH SPACING DOT = अल्पविराम (ibid.).

1144C NEWAR ABBREVIATION SIGN CIRCLE = संक्षेपीकरण यानाः च्वयातःगु थासय् थुगु चिं (ibid.).

1145A NEWAR FLOWER = स्वांथें ज्याःगु चिं (ibid.).

1145C NEWAR PLACEHOLDER MARK is the line-width equivalent of the NEWAR GAP FILLER (see below). Recommendation: Change name to NEWAR LINE FILLER MARK.

2. Morphology of the Gap Filler Mark

Following comments on earlier drafts of N4184, especially those of Kashinath Tamot, it should be clarified that the primary function of 1144B NEWAR GAP FILLER is not that of indicating a break in a word (as per the previous name SANDHI MARK), but rather of filling space up to the end of a line margin. (A hyphen indeed performs a space-filling operation as well as functioning as a word-breaking mark. However, I suggest that ‘hyphenation’ be dropped from the formal description of this mark to avoid confusion.)

The purpose of this mark has been obvious enough to specialists – recently see, e.g. Ishida (2011:ix), where it is called a ‘line-filler character’, Zeilenfüllzeichen. (In fact, this mark does not fill a line – this is the function of 1145C NEWAR PLACEHOLDER MARK; rather, it fills a space of less than one full glyph-width at the end of a margin, not necessarily the end of a line.) Nonetheless, it is easily seen that the mark could be confused with, e.g., a visarga, daṇḍa or similar. In earlier discussion on the proposal, its purpose has remained unclear to the user community, perhaps due to its unstable shape. Significantly, the NEWAR GAP FILLER MARK changes according to the width of the glyph. Its behaviour may be represented as follows:

Fig.1: Morphology of the Indo-Nepalese gap filler mark.

Variations in this mark may therefore be regarded as contextual alternatives, rather than separate code points. I suggest, as per the diagram, that no more than three variants need be represented; although the glyph could conceivably incorporate four or more variations (e.g., five vertically stacked dots, at 20% character width), this is probably excessive.

Recommendation: It may be implemented as one code point with contextual alternates, or 3 or more code points corresponding to each quantum of width.

3. Swash Forms

Several glyphs may be alternatively represented with swash forms, created by extending elements of the glyph into surrounding white space. These forms do not require dedicated representation in an encoded repertoire; however, they should be included in any full description of Indo-Newar scribal culture, and font designers might want to incorporate them. Swash forms are often contextually invoked: they are used at the top line of a block of text (upward extension), but may also be seen on the bottom line (downward extension), and even more rarely at the right and left margins, and within interlinear white space. An example:

Fig.2: Swash forms in MS University of Tokyo (Matsunami) 419, f.132r.

Characters routinely represented as swash forms include:


4. Revisions To Standard Forms

The following changes to standard forms are recommended – see glyphs highlighted in Fig.3, in which all glyphs have been redrawn from scratch to accord with common scribal practice. The most widespread change is that the headstroke no longer extends past the right descender (which is inconsistent with almost all scribal practice). Standard forms for VOCALIC R, VOCALIC RR, GA, SHA, dependent VOWEL SIGN II, VOCALIC R, VOCALIC RR as well as *VOCALIC L, VOCALIC LL (these should certainly be specified and named) should be altered accordingly. DIGIT ONE should also be changed in order to avoid confusion with SIDDHI.

Fig. 3. Recommended changes to forms in N4184.

5. Some Remaining Questions

5.2 Letter-Numerals: “There are at least 27 such Newar ‘letter numerals’… It may be possible to unify Newar letter-numbers with corresponding Brahmi characters.” The issue here, as far as I can see, is: which letter-numeral conjuncts differ from non-numeral conjuncts of the same letters (all differences should be specified). To put it another way: which letter-numeral conjuncts uniquely signify letter numerals, if any? Perhaps our European colleagues, with their extensive access to funding, institutional support and manuscript sources, could clarify the matter. (Don’t worry, we won’t hold our breath.)

5.3 “Should editorial marks be encoded on a per script basis or would be it reasonable to unify such marks in a pan-Indic block?” (Pandey 2012:13). Out of our hands, but if they aren’t unified, they should be included in the Newar block.

[rev 0.1: 2012/06/19]

Tanaka, ‘Art of Thangka 6’ (2012)

田中公明 『チベット仏敎絵画集成 : タンカの芸術 ハンビッツ文化財団蔵』 第6卷 臨川書店; ハンビッツ文化財団 15,750円

Tanaka, Kimiaki (ed.), Rolf W. Giebel (tr.) Art of Thangka: From the Hahn Kwang-ho Collection. Volume 6. Kyoto/Seoul: Rinsen Book Co. & The Hahn Cultural Foundation, 2012. 266 pp. ISBN-13: 978-4653041245 [ /]

An illustrated Kum nye manuscript (p.238).

Bühnemann, ‘Buddhist & Śaiva Iconography in Artists’ Sketchbooks from Nepal’ (2012)

Gudrun Bühnemann. The Life of the Buddha: Buddhist and Śaiva Iconography and Visual Narratives in Artists’ Sketchbooks from Nepal. By Gudrun Bühnemann, with Transliterations and Translations from the Newari by Kashinath Tamot. Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute, 2012. ISBN 9789937553049, 204 pp. USD$50. [available from Vajra Books]

About the Book

This book describes, analyses and reproduces line drawings from two manuscripts and a related section from a third manuscript. These are: 1) Manuscript M.82.169.2, preserved in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (circa late nineteenth century) 2) Manuscript 82.242.1-24, preserved in the Newark Museum (from the later part of the twentieth century) and 3) A section from manuscript 440 in the private collection of Ian Alsop, Santa Fe, New Mexico (early twentieth century). The line drawings depict Hindu/Śaiva and Buddhist deities and themes, but the Buddhist material is predominant, as one would expect in artists’ sketchbooks from Patan. […]

Lin, ‘The Wish-Fulfilling Vine in Tibet’ (2011)

Nancy Grace Lin. ‘Adapting the Buddha’s Biographies: A Cultural History of the Wish-Fulfilling Vine in Tibet, Seventeenth to Eighteenth Centuries’. PhD diss., University of California at Berkeley, 2011. 319 pp. ISBN 9781267228482, ProQuest ID 928450843.

From the Abstract

The Wish-Fulfilling Vine of Bodhisattva Avadānas (Skt. Bodhisattvāvadānakalpalatā, Tb. Byang chub sems dpa’i rtogs pa brjod pa dpag bsam gyi ’khri shing) by Kṣemendra is an eleventh-century Sanskrit anthology of stories about the previous existences of the Buddha and his disciples, along with events from the Buddha’s final life. Translated into Tibetan circa 1270 and incorporated into the Tibetan Buddhist canon, by the seventeenth century the Vine occupied a place of high prestige in Tibet. I argue that adaptations of the Vine—condensed literary digests, paintings, and woodcuts—constitute sophisticated forms of commentary that reveal the ingenuity and concerns of their producers. […]

In Chapter One I trace how the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) and his court popularized the Vine through public instruction, paintings, and literary activities. These conspicuously cultured displays promoted renewed interest in Sanskrit and the Indic origins of Buddhism, while contributing to broader projects of knowledge production and state-building. In Chapter Two I demonstrate how the lay Pho lha dynasty (r. 1728-1750) appropriated the Vine, sponsoring two large-scale multimedia productions while developing models for lay kingship and patronage. In Chapter Three I argue that Si tu Paṇ chen Chos kyi ’byung gnas (1700-1774), an influential monk of Sde dge in eastern Tibet, articulated his vision of the ideal monastic through the design of Vine paintings and other literary and visual productions on the Buddha’s life. In Chapter Four I study Zhu chen Tshul khrims rin chen (1697-1774), court chaplain of Sde dge, and his work on the Vine as commentaries on cultural production.

Painting the Avadānakalpalatā (Lin 2011:319).