Buddhist Sculptures Discovered in Ruins of Ancient Shrine

This sculpture, uncovered in the ancient city of Bazira, tells a Buddhist story involving Siddhartha, who later became the Gautama Buddha. Credit: Photo by Aurangzeib Khan, Courtesy ACT/Italian Archaeological Mission

This sculpture, uncovered in the ancient city of Bazira, tells a Buddhist story involving Siddhartha, who later became the Gautama Buddha.
Credit: Photo by Aurangzeib Khan, Courtesy ACT/Italian Archaeological Mission

from livescience
by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | April 29, 2016 08:46am ET

Sculptures and carvings dating back more than 1,700 years have been discovered in the remains of a shrine and its courtyard in the ancient city of Bazira. The sculptures illustrate the religious life of the city, telling tales from Buddhism and other ancient religions.

Also called Vajirasthana, Bazira is located the in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. It was first constructed as a small town, during the second century B.C., and eventually developed into a city located within the Kushan Empire. At its peak, this empire ruled territory extending from modern-day India to central Asia.

The Kushan Empire declined during the third century A.D., at the same time that a series of earthquakes ravaged Bazira. The damage caused by the earthquakes — and the financial problems brought about by the decline of the Kushan Empire — meant that Bazira gradually fell into ruin, with the city abandoned by the end of the third century.

Today, the ruins of Bazira are located near the modern-day village of Barikot. The Italian Archaeological Mission has been excavating Bazira since 1978, gradually unearthing remains of the ancient city. [See Photos of the Ancient City Ruins and Sculptures]

The great departure
One of the sculptures, carved in green schist, depicts a prince named Siddhartha leaving a palace on a horse named Kanthaka. The sculpture likely form part of the shrine’s decoration, the archaeologists said.

According to ancient Buddhist stories, Siddhartha was a wealthy prince who lived in a palace in Kapilavastu, which is in modern-day Nepal. He lived a cloistered life, but one day he ventured outside his palace and encountered the suffering faced by common people. After this experience, he decided to leave his palace to live as a poor man in order to seek enlightenment. He later became the Gautama Buddha. [In Photos: An Ancient Buddhist Monastery]

In the carved scene, two spirits known as yakshas support Kanthaka’s hooves, wrote archaeologist Luca Olivieri, who directs excavations at Bazira, in the Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology. Meanwhile, the town goddess of Kapilavastu, who is shown wearing a crown, holds her hands together in a sign of veneration.

An unknown man — maybe a deity, Olivieri said — stands behind Kanthaka, with his left hand to his mouth and his right hand waving a scarf-like garment called an uttariya. Continue reading

Music: Various Artists – Scelsi EP

from The Quietus
Various Artists – Scelsi EP
(SN Variations)

Although largely unknown until the eighties, Italian composer Giancinto Scelsi pioneered new compositional techniques throughout the fifties and sixties informed by both post-serial musics and Buddhism, encouraging microtonal transitions to come to the fore. This switch in focus from musical patterns to “pure sound” is a similar realm to that later explored by Hennix, and is celebrated on this diverse, vibrant EP from SN Variations.

The ‘Duo For Violin And Cello’ of its A side was composed by Scelsi in 1965 and here is played, masterfully and tenderly, by Aisha Orazbayeva and Lucy Railton. With only two sound sources (and often just the one note!) Scelsi’s score conjures up brooding waves from scintillating subtleties.

Unpredictably the second side starts with a field recording of insects rather than avant orchestrals. Compressed from a recent installation piece, Chris Watson’s ‘Invertebrate Harmonics’ transposes Scelsi’s instrumentally-invoked ‘pure sound’ into the natural world where a swarm of vibrating insects in Borneo produce an astonishing, almost musical mass of mesmerically shifting microtones.

The disk ends with another Chris Watson recording, but, unusually for him, one that includes both a human and a musical instrument. Based on a traditional Buddhist piece, it has Joe Browning on Japanese flute meditatively returning SN Variations’ Scelsi survey full circle to one of the composer’s original sources of inspiration.


On Buddha’s Trail, from Lumbini to Tilaraukot

Wednesday 20th April, 2016

From Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova commended international efforts to combine safeguarding with the balanced development of a spiritual site that represents a universal message of peace, on 19 April 2016.

Preceded by Buddhist chanting, Ms Bokova welcomed members of the International Scientific Committee for the Conservation and Management of Lumbini, a World Heritage Site since 1997. The Committee is composed of international experts in archaeology, conservation, urban planning, the environment, heritage management as well as representatives of Buddhist communities.
‘I am deeply moved to be here, in this place of hope and wisdom, almost one year after the first of two earthquakes that destroyed many parts of this country. I believe we find here a source of courage and dignity for all the people of Nepal.’

She warmly congratulated the Government of Nepal, the Lumbini Development Trust and national and international experts for the successful implementation of the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust project for Strengthening the Conservation and Management of Lumbini, now in its second phase.

‘There is no need to choose between the conservation of historical remains and the development of Lumbini,’ said Ms Bokova. ‘Heritage can be a driver to learn new skills and knowledge, to develop new capacity and foster sustainable development, decent jobs and livelihoods. We can have all of this if we coordinate in harmony the initiatives by so many actors for whom this site carries special significance.’

Touring the site with Professor Robin Coningham, UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage at Durham University, Ms Bokova viewed the achievements of the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust project since it began in 2010. In the Mayadevi Temple, she saw evidence ‘ the first of its kind across southern Asia – of timber structures dating back to the lifetime of Lord Buddha, which were discovered in layers lying beneath the brick remains of a Mauryan temple. Efforts are underway to adjust the water table, which rises during the monsoon season, causing harm to the temple.

The Director-General witnessed the conservation of the three most emblematic monuments of Lumbini ‘ the Marker Stone, the Nativity Sculpture and the Ashoka Pillar that carries an inscription bearing Buddha’s Shakyamuni’s name. The project has also drafted an Archaeological Risk Map for the Sacred Garden of Lumbini, together with an integrated master plan.
She assured that UNESCO would continue together to work with international, national and local stakeholders, including representatives of six Buddhist organizations, to carry forward the project, guided by respect for the spirituality of the entire Lumbini area.

At the opening of the meeting, Mr Bhesh Narayan Dahal, Director-General of the Department for Archaeology; the Venerable Nigrodha, Vice-Chair of the Lumbini Development Trust; Mr Kiyohiko Hamada, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Nepal all recognized the achievements of the project.’ Mr Hamada expressed hope that the project would contribute to reviving tourism in Nepal, which has fallen since the 2015 earthquake. The Venerable Nigrodha stated that UNESCO is playing ‘an instrumental role in the development and safeguarding of Lumbini.

The region is an open history book that is still being written. Phase II of the project has also focused on Tilaurakot, where recent excavations have unearthed the remarkable remains of a vast 1,800 year-old palace complex, in the region of the ancient Sakya Kingdom, where Lord Buddha lived as Prince Siddhartha until 29, the age when he passed through the Eastern Gate to begin his quest for enlightenment. Continue reading

Ancient Dharmachakra, rock inscription unearthed in AP

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 9.06.40 PMTimes of India
TNN | Apr 22, 2016, 01.11 AM IST

HYDERABAD: In a major discovery, officials of the AP archaeology department have unearthed a Dharmachakra carved out in stone at A Kothapalli village of Thondangi mandal in East Godavari district. They have also discovered a number of Buddhist relics including rock inscription in Brahmi script.

Unlike the popular Dharmachakra with 24 spokes depicted in the Indian flag, the one discovered at A Kothapalli bears 32 spokes. The Dharmachakra was carved out in a large rock with Brahmi script on its side. There are also other Buddhist depictions on the rock. A team of senior officials visited the site on Wednesday and Thursday .

“The Dharmachakra was not separately carved in the rock. It forms part of a rock panel with 32 spokes. We can describe it as a spoked wheel. We have also found four stone stupas of varying sizes. All these relics date back to the pre-Satavahana to Satavahana period. They were probably carved out between the 2nd century CE and the 4th century CE. We are analysing the script,” said AP archaeology director GV Ramakrishna Rao. This is the third Dharmachakra with 32 spokes discovered in the country in recent times. Earlier, a similar stone-carved Dharmachakra was unearthed at Kanaganahalli-Sannati archaeological site in Karnataka. A terracotta Dharmachakra with 32 spokes was excavated at Lumbini in Nepal.

Historical records show that the Dharmachakra in the middle of the Ashoka’s Lion Capital apparently had 32 spokes. However, the four small Dharmachakras below the Lion Capital contained 24 spokes. The 32 spokes symbolically depict the qualities or attributes of an ideal human being or the Maha Purusha. Several villages in Thondangi and Tuni mandals in East Godavari district are well known Buddhist sites. The tiny village of Adurru in particular has the Maha Stupa. Historians consider it as the first of the three famous Buddhist Maha Stupas in India, the other two being at Sarnath and Sanchi.


Cloud Gate: making dance out of martial arts and meditation

Songs of the Wanderers performed by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Photograph: Yu Hui-hung

Songs of the Wanderers performed by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Photograph: Yu Hui-hung

The Cloud Gate dance company occupies a unique place in Taiwanese society and its founder has become a national treasure. Nicholas Wroe talks to Lin Hwai-min as he brings a signature work to the UK

Nicholas Wroe
Saturday 23 April 2016 02.00 EDT

The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan arrives at Sadler’s Wells next month to give one of the last performances of its signature work. Songs of the Wanderers opens with the solitary, still figure of a Buddhist monk standing under a spotlit stream of falling rice. The stage gradually fills with over three tonnes of golden coloured grains – especially shipped in from Taiwan – which form into deep drifts to become the mountains, rivers and desert through which dancers slowly enact the rituals of pilgrimage. Although it draws on Buddhism, the imagery also encompasses more universal readings and the performance is accompanied by the rhythmic chantings of a Georgian choir.

So it is intriguing to learn that this work, depicting a timeless spiritual quest for “asceticism and quietude”, is a characteristic offering from a company that emerged from one of the most turbulent periods of modern Asian geopolitics. For decades following the end of China’s civil war in 1949 the Taiwanese regime led by Chiang Kai-shek had claimed to be the legitimate government of all China, but international recognition gradually eroded and in 1971 it was expelled from the United Nations. Cloud Gate founder Lin Hwai-min was studying in the United States at the time and found himself returning home to an island in which a whole generation were suddenly trying to discover who they were. “There was a lot of energy in literature and the visual arts,” he says. “When I set up Cloud Gate [named after an ancient Chinese dance] we were the first professional dance company. We felt part of a movement in search of its roots. In one respect the mission of the company was to explore what it is to be Taiwanese, as we knew so little about our own home.”

 Wang Rong-yu in the part of the Monk in Songs of the Wanderers. Photograph: Yu Hui-hung

Wang Rong-yu in the part of the Monk in Songs of the Wanderers. Photograph: Yu Hui-hung

At the company’s new theatre, which opened last year on the outskirts of the capital Taipei, Lin gestures in the direction of the Chinese mainland, 110 miles across the Taiwan Straits. “What was important was over there”, he says. Well into the 80s Taiwanese children were taught about Beijing and the Great Wall and how long the Yangtze was. But, says Lin, “we had no idea about the rivers in Taiwan. It just wasn’t in the textbooks. Today you can go to a store and buy half a dozen books on the butterflies of Taiwan, but back then we had to explore for ourselves. City people travelled to the country to see the landscape, the farms, the rituals being carried out in front of the temples.” Continue reading

Survey of 100 archaeological sites in capital soon

Palistan Today

Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) would survey about 100 archaeological sites in the federal capital to find out a potential site for documentation and preservation.

The department has submitted the Master Plan for `Survey, Documentation and Protection of Archaeological Sites and Monuments’ in ICT amounting Rs. 14.846 million to the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.

Director General, DOAM, Dr. Muhammad Arif said the work on the project would be started soon after the approval of the proposal.

He said recently the department completed the excavation work on a new Buddhist archaeological site `Ban Faqiran’ atop Margalla Hills finding some antiquities.

The department would now start the preservation of the site which would enable visitors to get a glimpse of the newly discovered historical place.


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