Los Angeles: The 8th-Annual Distinguished Lecture on South and Southeast Asian Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Sunday, April 13, 2014

Robert Linrothe, specialist in Buddhist art of the Himalayas, examines the artistic grandeur of the Sumstek shrine in present-day northern India in his talk titled “The Three-Story ‘Heap of Jewels’: A Buddhist Shrine at Alchi in the Western Himalayas.” A site famous for its architecture, sculpture, and painting it is one of the surviving wonders of the Himalayan world.

The Tibetan name of this shrine (gsum brtsegs rin chen brtsegs pa) refers to a metaphorical “heap of jewels” in the sense of portraying the Tibetan Buddhist understanding of valuable truths. But in another sense, the name is also literally true:  some of the pigments of the wall paintings were ground precious stones and metals such as azurite and gold. All four interior walls, and three over-life-size sculptures are covered with miniature paintings, as if the artists were trained manuscript illuminators tasked with making murals.

Despite the importance of this site as a benchmark in the history of Himalayan art, its date is still controversial. Professor Linrothe discusses the attribution of the bulk of the painting to Kashmiri-trained artists, examines what is at stake in the dating controversy, and assesses the evidence on both sides of the question.

Robert Linrothe is an associate professor of art history at Northwestern University. From 2002 to 2004 he served as the inaugural curator of Himalayan Art at the Rubin Museum in New York. In 2008 he was a scholar in residence at the Getty Research Institute.

LACMA, Brown Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Sponsored by the Southern Asian Art Council


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