Moronval (2017), Vitalités chez les Néwar bouddhistes

Frédéric Moronval. 2017. Vitalités linguistique et religieuse chez les Néwar bouddhistes de la vallée de Kathmandu. Thèse de doctorat en Sciences du langage – linguistique, Normandie Université. Français. NNT: 2017NORMR055. <tel-01697607> [PDF]

From the English abstract: Newari, the indigenous language of the Kathmandu valley, is considered by the UNESCO as an endangered language, […] why and to which extent both the mother tongue and Buddhism are decreasing among Newars, and what, if any, is the causal relationship linking the evolution of these two cultural features. […] Continue reading “Moronval (2017), Vitalités chez les Néwar bouddhistes”

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”

Dina Bangdel (1965–2017)

Dr Dina Bangdel (5.12.1965–25?.7.2017) is well known among Nepal specialists as a historian of religious art. Her 1999 dissertation, Manifesting the Mandala, and co-authored 2003 exhibition catalogue, Circle of Bliss, emphasised the visual culture of the Cakrasamvara cycle in Newar Buddhism, which is traditionally kept secret. Dr Bangdel had been planning to show a selection of this and related art on a world-travelling exhibition and was scheduled to speak at the “New Research on Newar Buddhism” panel at IABS. This week Dr Bangdel passed away, reportedly after complications following surgery. She is survived by her husband Bibhakar Shakya and two children.

(Added 2018/1/20:) ‘Remembering scholars of Nepalese Art Mary Slusser and Dina Bangdel’ (Rubin Museum of Art)

Aryatara
Tamang, ‘Green Tara’ (Bangdel 2016, fig.6)

Continue reading “Dina Bangdel (1965–2017)”

Production Type (2017), Spectral

Spectral is a parametric serif font with true italic, bold and small caps, a number of weights, and the desired Latin Extended Additional diacritics. It’s free to download and is available for use under the SIL Open Font license 1.1. Personal take: Spectral is a big advance on what’s out there, offering unprecedented typesetting flexibility, but it’s not yet clear how well it is suited for the printed page. See some informed criticism.

git: https://github.com/productiontype/Spectral


Specimen of Sanskrit text with diacritics set in Spectral (source: Vāṅmaṇḍalanamaskāraḥ, dsbcproject.org/canon-text/book/745)

Khentrul Rinpoché (2015), A Joyful Ocean of Precious Diversity

Khentrul Rinpoche, 2015. Ocean of Diversity.Shar Khentrul Jamphel Lodrö (ཤར་མཁན་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་འཇམ་དཔལ་བློ་གྲོས); Joe Flumerfelt, ed. 2015. A Joyful Ocean of Precious Diversity: An unbiased summary of views and practices, gradually emerging from the teachings of the world’s wisdom traditions (སྣ་ཚོགས་ནོར་བུའི་རོལ་མཚོ། །རིས་མེད་འཛམ་གླིང་རིག་པའི་གཞུང་ལུགས་བྱུང་རིམ་ལྟ་གྲུབ་ཉིང་བསྡུས།།). Belgrave, Australia: Tibetan Buddhist Rimé Institute, ISBN: 9780994445308. US$24.95.

OCLC: 978641292. Official site: rimebuddhism.com

Contents:
Acknowledgments … vii
Editor’s Preface … ix
Introduction … 1

PART ONE: WORKING WITH DIVERSITY
1 The Nature of Belief … 15
2 The Rimé Philosophy … 29

PART TWO: THE WORLD'S BELIEF SYSTEMS
Systems with an Extrinsic Focus
3 Ancient Wisdom Traditions … 49
4 Hinduism … 67
5 J​udaism … 89
6 Christianity … 107
7 I​slam … 129
Continue reading “Khentrul Rinpoché (2015), A Joyful Ocean of Precious Diversity”

Gutschow (2016), Bhaktapur–Nepal

Niels Gutschow. 2016. Bhaktapur–Nepal: Stadt und Ritual – Urban Space and Ritual. Berlin: DOM publishers. 331 × 255 mm. 2 vols. 540 pp. ISBN 978-3-86922-522-7 [English & German text; unseen]

Official site: http://dom-publishers.com/products/bhaktapur-nepal

Gutschow 2016

From the Abstract: Among the many festivals of the year, ten occasions are selected. Of these, the celebration of the New Year – Bisketjātrā – in April, the Farewell to the Dead – Gāījātrā – in August and the Victory of the goddess Durgā – Dasāīn – in October are of significant meaning for the well-being of the community. Moreover, the ritual of the Navadurgā Deities leaves an imprint on the spatial and temporal integrity of the urban realm over a period of nine months. Continue reading “Gutschow (2016), Bhaktapur–Nepal”

Feichtinger (2011), Rituelle Pluralität und Performanz [Nyakū Jātrā Matayā]

Feichtinger, Walter. 2011. Rituelle Pluralität und Performanz. Das Newar Festival Nyakū Jātrā Matayā in Pāṭan, Nepal. Diplomarbeit (Mag. Phil.), University of Vienna. Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften. URN: urn:nbn:at:at-ubw:1-29510.85611.848460-1. [PDF]

Abbildung 6.28: Gesellschaftskritik und die Einflüsse einer globalisierten Welt, Matayā 18.08.2008

Abstract: This diploma thesis is about the plural ritual praxis of a religious festival of the Newars in the city of Pāṭan, within the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The Nyakū Jātrā Matayā serves as a stage for the living and dead, gods and demons, as well as the beliefs of two religious systems and a globalized society that is at the same time deep-rooted in tradition. Continue reading “Feichtinger (2011), Rituelle Pluralität und Performanz [Nyakū Jātrā Matayā]”

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: amazon.com.

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)”

Nepal’s April 25 quake: a view from afar

On April 25, 2015, just before midday local time, the Nepalese Himalayas was struck by an earthquake of magnitude ≥ 7.8. Its epicentral region was located about 80km west of Kathmandu, but the many aftershocks have been clustered around the Valley, shifting an entire region. At least ten thousand lives were lost or injured as a result. This horrific calamity was not caused by divine retribution, but rather by collisions occurring, with some predictability, between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. Several M ≥ 5 aftershocks are expected, with a greater than 50% chance of an M ≥ 6 aftershock, in the coming months (Source: USGS).

KathmanduUnwrappedInSAR
The quake originated in Lamjung district, with seismic activity focused around the Kathmandu Valley (Source: A. Lomax, via twitter).

Such widely felt effects, together with the increasing pervasion of social media, are generating an unprecedented flow of data. Making sense of it is difficult for people in the midst of the crisis, let alone those on the outside — though there are some worthy efforts (*). Many call for more aid, but some say there is too much. On live television, it seems to be business as usual in the Kathmandu Valley. However, the normality orchestrated on TV reveals nothing of the disruptions likely to come: critical shortages of manpower, water, fuel and electricity, failures of agriculture and transport, debilitated families, missionary predation, ever-growing dependence on foreigners.

The situation in the Valley — since it’s what I know, it’s the part I can assess — now seems to be as follows. In the Durbar Square of Lalitpur, the Jagannarayan and Hari Shankar temples have fully collapsed. Hiraṇyavarṇa-mahāvihāra, the Golden Temple, is undamaged. There is widespread damage in Bungamati, with Amarāvati-mahāvihāra mandir laid waste. The chariot of Karuṇāmaya (‘Macchendranath’), now on its twelve-year yātrā, has been hit. In Kathmandu Durbar square, Kasthamandap, Maju Dega, Kam Dev temple and Trailokya Mohan Narayan temple were destroyed; the Kumari House stands unaffected. Kalmochan temple at Thapathali and Bhimsen Tower, a.k.a. Dharahara, have fallen down. The Swayambhu caitya has not been obviously affected, though some surrounding buildings, including the Pratappur temple, are shattered. Although a hairline crack has appeared in the Bodhnath stūpa it remains intact, apart from a collapsed stūpa on its periphery (misleadingly photographed in front of the main structure).

The old cities of Bhaktapur, Sankhu, Kirtipur and Khokana have suffered severe damage and loss of life. Beyond the Valley, in Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk and Nuwakot, whole villages have been wiped out, and reportedly, hundreds of thousands are affected in the Tibet Autonomous Region. It looks like the communities at these places will receive some aid from outside, sooner or later. Whether it arrives in good time, reaches the people who need it, is usable, makes things better rather than worse — or is needed at all — are altogether different questions.

Today nobody knows how much is being stolen from heritage sites. While UNESCO has funds to hire security, and jurisdiction over the entire Valley, the Kathmandu office says it can only work on its database. Fortunately, the job is somehow getting done. The false opposition ‘protect lives, not buildings’ is also getting a lot of airtime. Buildings are there to improve lives (unless built in a failing state). That’s why the displaced people who shivered under tarpaulins for a while have gone back to their homes as fast as they can, in spite of the risks.

The proposition that traditional spaces merely “serve as an anchor for aspiration and memory” and have nothing to do with livelihoods, shelter, storage, commerce, discourse, traffic, and the experience of pleasure and meaning is very mistaken. This damning with faint praise is no ordinary lapse of judgment; the Newars’ spaces seem to incite real unease among those who don’t belong there. This shows that they work as intended, and that their value comprises far more than the sum of their parts. Even in times of weakness, the Kathmandu Valley’s precious urban landscape can resist the neuroses projected onto it from outside. Nonetheless,this priceless quality won’t continue of its own accord. It needs intelligence, attention and work. That is how lives are renewed.