Devoted to painting

Lok Chitrakar

Lok Chitrakar

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Nepali Times
Stéphane Huët

Nepal’s paubha master takes Kathmandu’s traditional art to Japan

Lok Chitrakar, 54, is Nepal’s most famous painter of paubha, the devotional art form that went from Nepal to Tibet to become the thangka. Now, he is taking 32 of his paintings even further to Japan where it will be part of a larger collection on permanent display at a museum.

As an autodidact, Chitrakar came from a family of artists and started using brushes at 12. Today, his work is renowned worldwide with some of his paintings featuring in permanent exhibitions from Pakistan to Finland.

Chitrakar has been working with the Kanzouin Museum in Tokyo for the past 12 years which already has 30 of his paintings, and soon will be adding 32 more to complete a series that will ultimately have 108 paintings from Kathmandu.

Lok Chitrakar was working on a mandala for a Japanese client in 2000, and had to learn Japanese techniques to complete it. For this he got in touch with a Japanese friend who showed his work to people in the art scene there. There was no looking back, the Japanese were hooked. Continue reading

Mountains, Mummies, and Modern Art: Ascetic Practice in Yamagata Prefecture

The five-story pagoda of Mount Haguro.

The five-story pagoda of Mount Haguro.
David McMahon


For over a thousand years, Yamagata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan side of the northern Tōhoku region, has drawn pilgrims and mystics to its mountains. As the native Shintō faith intertwined with imported Buddhism, Yamagata became the site for scores of shrines and temples, some of which remain to the present day.

Pilgrimage to the Three Holy Mountains
The holiest of all the sites in the region are the three sacred mountains of Dewa, or Dewa Sanzan (literally: “three mountains of Dewa”): Gassan, Haguro, and Yudono. These peaks boast what is thought to be Japan’s longest history of mountain worship, stretching all the way back to Prince Hachiko, a sixth-century royal who devoted his life to religion, establishing centers of worship on all three mountains.

The slopes of Mount Haguro, the lowest and most accessible of the three sacred peaks, are particularly rich in shrines, Jizō statues, and other religious iconography, along with a stunning five-story wooden pagoda built without nails in 1372, itself a reconstruction of a similar monument built over a thousand years ago. Historical figures like the great poet Matsuo Bashō and the twelfth century warrior monk Benkei are also said to have lingered on this hallowed ground.

After the area was visited in the late seventh century by their spiritual forebear En no Gyōja, the three Dewa peaks became a site of great importance to the yamabushi (literally, “those who lay in the mountains”), a sect of ascetic adherents of Shugendō, an ancient religion combining aspects of Shintō and Buddhism.

Shrines at the base of Mount Haguro.

Shrines at the base of Mount Haguro.

These mountain mystics, clad in white and saffron robes and bamboo skullcaps, revere the fearsome-looking divinity Fudō Myōō and devote themselves to the contemplation of nature and study of martial arts. In the village at the base of the mountain are numerous lodgings that still host these pilgrims, serving traditional vegan shōjin ryōri in the austere quarters of the often thatched-roofed buildings. Continue reading

Heritage Watch: Efforts lack to secure historical site
Posted on: 2014-10-06 09:00

KATHMANDU, OCT 06 – In July last year, archaeologists carried out an excavation at Baluwa area in Gokarna, next to where Lichhavi King Amshu Verma’s sixth century inscription was found in the late seventies. But just over a year later, a three-storey house stands tall on the very spot where the discovery was made.

By the time the Department of Archaeology learnt about the building, the construction was already halfway through. According to Ram Bahadur Kunwar, coordinator of the excavation, the departement’s directive to the Village Development Committee to impose restriction on construction of any structure in the area was not followed.

The house owner, Yangde Sherpa, oblivious to the archaeological value of the land, says she was tricked into buying the property at a higher price by an agent two years ago.

“The Village Development Committee had given me the approval to build my house on the land. I didn’t know what to make of it when I was later told that the land was archaeologically important,” she says. Continue reading

Bihar govt to develop ‘footprints of Buddha’ sites to promote tourism

The Times of India
Pranav Chaudhary,TNN | Oct 12, 2014, 10.58 PM IST

PATNA: Bihar government has decided to develop the ‘footprints of Buddha circuit’ sites located in four districts of the state. Most of these sites are ASI-protected monuments which need immediate care and upkeep. To popularize and generate awareness about these places, the department of tourism, Bihar, has decided to organize ‘walking tourism’ from Bodh Gaya in December.

“The available evidence suggests that Lord Buddha had visited Rampurva, Lauriya Nandangarh, Areraj, Kesariya, Vaishali and Hajipur during his journey to Bodh Gaya,” says an expert.

Bihar tourism minister Dr Jawaid Iqbal Ansari said all the sites associated with Lord Buddha pilgrimage tour would be developed to attract Buddhist pilgrims. It would be major attraction for all the Buddhists across the world. Recently, he made an appeal to various tour and travel operators from across the world to prepare an itinerary package covering all such places for the tourists as well as Buddhist pilgrims.

According to official sources, the Centre is already working on Buddha heritage project in which Buddhist sites located in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh would be covered. Additional secretary (tourism) GOI, Girish Shankar, said the Centre is ready to assist the state government in developing the Buddhist circuit. To popularize the Buddha’s footprints, state tourism department has decided to organize a ‘walking tourism’ from Bodh Gaya in the first week of December. Several Buddhist monks and pilgrims are expected to participate in it, he said. Continue reading

Peace & Enlightenment Through Watches: American Kobold’s Nepalese Thangka Art Timepiece With Romio Shrestha

At Buddhist Art News we are fairly open-minded about content. The objects described in this article push at the edges of acceptability: $8,000 wrist watches featuring images of White Tara. The watchmaker might at least have resisted using the skin of a sentient being (a stingray) to create the strap. – Buddhist Art News

10/13/2014 @ 9:30AM 88 views

The trajectory of Michael Kobold’s watch business has taken a series of unexpected turns and twists over the years. Those fresh to the Pennsylvania-based timepiece company would find it strange to read a list of all the things that can be said about Kobold’s achievements. In 1998, Kobold was probably the first watch company to sell watches directly to consumers, and in 2008, they produced a watch known as the Spirit of America with a case produced, perhaps for the first time in 40 years, in the USA. Kobold has worked with watch-loving celebrities, and recently, in 2012, set up a facility in Kathmandu, Nepal to produce some watches. Taken together, one could easily come to the conclusion that either Michael Kobold has an incredibly interesting, or totally random life.

Kobold’s involvement with Nepal is deeply personal, and comes from a positive experience Michael Kobold and his now wife had with Sherpas who guided him during a climb up Mount Everest. In 2012, his company released the Kobold Himalaya Collection of watches produced in Kathmandu that I covered here. With mechanical movements actually produced in Kathmandu by newly trained Nepalese watchmakers, it added a unique twist to the brand’s otherwise USA-focused appeal. Even then, many of the components of Kobold watches are produced in Switzerland, or by other fine watch component suppliers. In the United States Kobold produces the watch cases, automatic rotors, and some movement bridges. They also produce many dials in-house as well as their leather straps. Continue reading

CALL FOR PAPERS: Female Monasticism and the Arts across Europe

Were any Buddhist nuns making art in Europe in the Medieval Period? We are curious to see if this conference answers that question in the positive. – Buddhist Art News

CALL FOR PAPERS: Female Monasticism and the Arts across Europe (London, 13-14 Mar 15) will be held at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN.
Deadline: Dec 10, 2014

Sister Act: Female Monasticism and the Arts across Europe ca. 1250 – 1550 Keynote speaker: Professor Dr. Carola Jäggi, University of Zürich (CH)

This conference seeks to compare, contrast and juxtapose scholarly approaches to the art of Medieval and Renaissance religious women that have emerged in recent decades. Seeking to initiate a broader conversation, which is long overdue, we invite papers that examine female monastic art in terms of patronage, space, devotional practice, spiritual identity or material history, spanning all of Europe and bridging the gap between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.


Bagan renews efforts to win World Heritage

Sri Kshetra, one of Pyu ancient cities/Unesco Bangkok

Sri Kshetra, one of Pyu ancient cities/Unesco Bangkok

The Nation

Myanmar Eleven October 7, 2014 7:28 pm

After the listing of Pyu ancient cities, Myanmar launches process for World Heritage nomination of Bagan

Myanmar is kicking off another campaign to reengage with the world and also draw more hard-earned foreign currency, this time involving the ancient city of Bagan.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), the process to nominate Bagan to its World Heritage List will begin with an international consultation meeting in Bagan from October 10-12.

“The ancient archaeological site is at the top of the country’s priority list for future World Heritage nominations. The meeting will bring together experts from around the world to discuss the future safeguarding of Bagan under the World Heritage framework with national and local stakeholders. These inputs will be particularly timely in the face of accelerated development at the site caused by a boom in visitor arrivals and tourism-related investment,” Unesco said in a statement.

Almost every traveller has heard of Bagan, or Pagan, the spectacular 11th to 13th-century ruins of more than 3,000 Buddhist temples and monuments spread over an 80-square-kilometre plain in central Myanmar. Myanmar nominated Bagan to the World Heritage Committee in 1996, but the submission process, which usually takes years, ran into problems with Myanmar’s ruling junta. Continue reading