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”

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”

Acri ed. (2016), Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia

Acri, Andrea (ed). 2016. Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia: Networks of Masters, Texts, Icons. Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series 27. Singapore: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. xii+468 pp. ISBN: 978-981-4695-09-1 (whole book, digital), ISBN 978-981-4695-08-4 (print). [PDF: Introduction, Bibliography, Index]

Official site: ISEAS. OCLC: 958714872. TOC: Andrea Acri at academia.edu. Review: newbooks.asia

Acri 2016, Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia

Contents Continue reading “Acri ed. (2016), Esoteric Buddhism in Mediaeval Maritime Asia”

Yoshizaki, ‘The Kathmandu Valley as a Water Pot’ (2012)

Long-time readers might remember this – now in print:

Yoshizaki, Kazumi (吉崎一美). The Kathmandu Valley as a Water Pot: Abstracts of research papers on Newar Buddhism in Nepal. Kathmandu: Vajra Books, 2012. 172 pp. ISBN: 9937506743. EAN: 9789937506748. USD$12.95. [official site]

[See Yoshizaki (1991), (1994a), (1994b), (1995), (1996a), (1996b), (1996c), (1997a), (1997b), (1997c), (1998a), (1998b), (1998c), (1998d), (1999), (2001), (2002a), (2002b), (2003a), (2003b), (2005a), (2005b), (2005c), (2007a) and several others.]

Fontein, ‘The Gaṇḍavyūha reliefs of Borobudur’ (2012)

Jan Fontein. Entering the Dharmadhātu: A study of the Gaṇḍavyūha reliefs of Borobudur. Studies in Asian Art and Archaeology 26. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2012. ~240 pp. ISBN-13: 978-9004211223. €125. [official site]

From the Abstract

Entering the Dharmadhātu compares the complete set of panels with three early Chinese translations of Central Asian and Indian Sanskrit manuscripts of the Gaṇḍavyūha. This first identification of the entire series in English concludes with a discussion of the new perspectives on the meaning, symbolism, and architecture of Borobudur that a reading of the Gaṇḍavyūha suggests.

Book of the Year: ‘Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism’

Giovanni Verardi (appendices by Federica Barba). Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India. Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series 4. Delhi/Singapore: Manohar & Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011. 523 pp.

Not a very catchy title, but I doubt that something more direct (say, The Hindu Extermination of Buddhism) would have been very appealing to Singapore’s Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, the book’s publisher.

This book is an extraordinary achievement, all the more so for it relying only indirectly, for the most part, on scriptural and epigraphic sources. Verardi’s contribution is based on something at least as useful: first-hand observation of the key sites and remains, clearly articulated in terms of long-term patterns. It is by far one of the most important contributions to the study of Buddhism in India published in a long time — though I don’t agree with everything in it, by any means. (Given the chance, I will expand on that later.) The omission of any discussion of the Theravādins’ catastrophic role, painstakingly explained in Peter Schalk’s 2002 Buddhism among Tamils volumes, has to be regarded as particularly puzzling — at least until one sees Peter Skilling’s name in the acknowledgements. But let me be clear: Verardi, who has pursued his line of inquiry for over three decades, has succeeded in making sense out of a slew of data in a way that is unlikely to be bettered for some time.

Gutschow, ‘Architecture of the Newars’ (2011)

Niels Gutschow. Architecture of the Newars: A History of Building Typologies and Details in Nepal. 3 volumes. Serindia, November 2011. 1030 pp. USD$450 (excluding postage). ISBN 978-1-932476-54-5 [official site]

From the Abstract

Architecture of the Newars by Niels Gutschow presents the entire history of architecture in the Valley of Kathmandu and its neighbours over a period of 1,500 years — right up to the present. It is a rare tribute to an urban culture which has preserved fascinating lifestyles to this very day. Gutschow first travelled to Nepal in 1962, returning in 1970 after reading architecture, and has constantly worked since then on the connections between ritual and the city. Since 1980 he has worked with measured drawings to identify the various building typologies, which are documented in three volumes with 862 photos and 939 drawings.

Buddhist monasteries (bāhā, bahī); Gutschow (2011:707, 724)

The first volume presents the complexity of the sacred landscape of the Valley and the urban context as well as the early periods, Buddhist votive structures (caityas), architectural fragments and temples from the early periods (5th–14th century). The second volume presents the Malla period (1350–1769) with a host of drawings documenting caityas, maths, tiered temples, shrines and monasteries. The third volume presents the modern period with temples and palaces of the Shaha kings and the Ranas; a variety of new caitya types; domestic architecture of the early 20th century; modern architecture and urban planning. The final chapter presents selected architectural details populated by airborne spirits in a transcultural perspective.


Update: Book signing by the author at Vajra Books, Kathmandu, 2pm 14 December 2011.

Light of the Valley: The 15th Renovation of Swayambhu

Light of the Valley: The 15th Renovation of Swayambhu. 2011. 30 minutes. Directed by Pema Gellek. [press release]

A short documentary of the 2008–2010 renovation of the Kathmandu Valley’s most sacred Buddhist site, generously sponsored by Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche and coordinated by his daughter, Tsering Gellek. I, and other readers, had the good fortune to witness this monumental undertaking at various stages.

There’s also a book (no publication information available yet).

Light of the Valley Trailer from Guna Foundation on Vimeo.





Valerio-Baumann, ‘Die Bedeutung weiblicher Gottheiten im ikonographischen Programm des Vaitāl Deul’ (2011)

Valerio-Baumann, Sabine. ‘Die Bedeutung weiblicher Gottheiten im ikonographischen Programm des Vaitāl Deul. Eine Kritische Analyse unter Berücksichtigung der Devī-Darstellungen von Śakti-Tempeln in Orissa.’ Diplomarbeit (Magistra der Philosophie), Universität Wien. 2011. 140 pp. [official site/PDF]

From the Abstract

This thesis focuses on the significance of the female goddesses in the iconographic program of one of the most important Śakti-temple in Orissa – the Vaitāl Deul. This monument is situated in the city of Bhubaneśvar and was built during the reign of the Bhauma-Karas-dynasty. […] While a large number of devīs can be found on the temple walls and inside the sanctum, male figures are rare but situated on important positions of the building, e.g. in the caitya-medallions of the gaṇḍi or inside the shrine. Part of this thesis focuses on the sociohistorical and religious background of the Vaitāl Deul. By means of a comparative analysis, I studied the relation of the iconographic program of the Vaitāl Deul both with Sanskrit-śilpa-manuscrip[t]s (Śilpa-Prakāśa and Śilparatnakośa) and with the iconographic programs of other, representative Śakti-temples of Orissa. These analyses have shown that every Śakti-Temple has its own independent iconographic program. […]

(Fortunately, this Orissan masterpiece is still standing. It helps to be on the right side of history in Hindustan — not like these guys.)

Abb. 7 Südansicht des deul (© WHAV 2009). (Valerio-Baumann 2011:87)

Milligan, ‘Inscribed Reliefs & Inscriptions at Sanchi’ (2010)

Milligan, Matthew David. ‘A Study of Inscribed Reliefs within the Context of Donative Inscriptions at Sanchi’. M. A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 2010. [official site URI / PDF]

From the abstract

Sanchi stūpa #2 & inscription (p.98)
Inscribed relief art at the early Buddhist archaeological site of Sanchi in India exhibits at least one interesting quality not found elsewhere at the site. […] Two inscribed images of stūpas found on the southern gateway record the gifts of two prominent individuals. The first is a junior monk whose teacher holds a high position in the local order. The second is the son of the foreman of the artisans of a king. Both inscribed stūpa images represent a departure from a previous donative epigraphical habit. Instead of inscribing their names on image-less architectural pieces, these two particular individuals inscribed their names on representations of stūpas, a symbol with a multiplicity of meanings. […] I suggest that these donations were recorded as part of the visual field intentionally, showing the importance of not only inscribing a name on an auspicious symbol but also the importance of inscribing a name for the purpose of being seen.