Category Archives: Archaeology

Karmapa, Pema Chödrön endorse Buddhist art “caretaking” project

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BY HEATHER WARDLE | JULY 21, 2015

“Time is running out. Earthquake, fire, flood, armed conflict, and political upheaval threaten Buddhist sacred art in monasteries,” says the new website of Treasure Caretaker Training, a registered non-profit is dedicated to saving endangered sacred art.

Launched in 2014 by Ann Shaftel, an art conservator, the project trains “treasure caretakers” such as monks and nuns in techniques such as digital documentation of precious objects, video interviews of elders, risk assessment and disaster management.

The project works with monasteries, museums, and universities in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Europe, and North America to help protect Buddhist art such as paintings, statuary, costumes, instruments, and other sacred objects. Participants are also trained to use smartphones and tablets to interview elders.

“Elders hold the history of the object in the oral history tradition. If an elder dies and their story is not recorded, then the history of that object can be lost to future generations,” says Ann Shaftel, the Project Director. Continue reading

From Thailand, in search of Buddhist link

Former director of Archaeology Department V. Nagasamy with Sanskrit scholars and Buddhist monks from Thailand, in Chennai. — Photo: Special Arrangement

Former director of Archaeology Department V. Nagasamy with Sanskrit scholars and Buddhist monks from Thailand, in Chennai. — Photo: Special Arrangement

The Hindu
July 27, 2015 05:47 IST
B. KOLAPPAN

Even though Buddhism thrived in Poompuhar and Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, they do not figure in the list places to be visited by the pilgrims from South-East Asian countries. They tour North India and visit Buddhist pilgrim centres like Bodh Gaya.

A few days ago, a group of scholars and Buddhist monks from Thailand visited Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Kancheepuram, Srirangam, Madurai and other famous temples on the advice of noted Indologist and former director of Archaeology department V. Nagasamy.

“They have woken up to the Buddhist connection in this part of the country. Around 150 years ago, 300 bronze and gold-plated Buddha statues were found in Nagapattinam during an excavation and 200 of them are in Egmore museum, while the others were sent to countries including Thailand,” said Dr Nagasamy.

He pointed out that the Choodamani Vihara in Nagapattinam was built by King Raja Raja on the request of the King of Thailand Srimara Vijayathunga Varman in memory of his father Choodamani Varman in the 11{+t}{+h}century. Raja Raja’s son Rajedra Chola established Buddhist pallis. In Poompohar, a Buddha vihara was found during archaeological excavation. Continue reading

ASI nod sought to excavate Buddhist site

P. Nagaraju with a female figurine found near Pazzur village in Nalgonda district.

P. Nagaraju with a female figurine found near Pazzur village in Nalgonda district.

The Hindu
July 27, 2015 05:45 IST
T. KARNAKAR REDDY

The Department of Archaeology and Museums has decided to write to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) seeking permission for conducting excavations at early historic Buddhist site, probably belonging to Satavahana period, located between Pazzur and Yarragaddagudem villages of Thipparthy mandal.

Following directions from Deputy Director P. Brahma Chary, Technical Assistant P. Nagaraju visited the site on Sunday and met farmers who have been cultivating the area over the years, seeking their consent for conducting excavation.

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Nagaraju said they have also collected some antiquities at site on Sunday – which includes a black pottery work on which is written — Bu Da Sa — in Brahmi script.

Stating that the site is spread over 30 acres of land, Mr. Nagaraju said that they would also write to the State government seeking grants once the ASI accepts their proposals. The Archaeology Department first identified the site in 2003 when the current State Government Advisor and then Commissioner of Archaeology and Museums, Ram Lakshman, was at the helm of affairs. Incidentally, Mr. Ram Lakshman also hails from Suraram village of Thipparthy mandal, and sent conservator Y. Bhanu Murthy to inspect the site following information from locals. The antiquities found include, female terracotta figurine, ornamental beads, spool, couple of grinding stones, red ware and black ware pottery, decorated red ware and part of rim of a storage pot, bricks, besides others.

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Beads, pottery retrace India-Bali links

ppspsJuly 31,2015, 01.33 PM IST | | IANS

Remnants of ancient Indian pottery, beads and even Indian DNA found in human bones point to thriving trade and social contacts between India and Bali dating back to more than 2,000 years.

Besides trade, Indian merchants brought with them their language – Sanskrit – and the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism, noted Indonesian archaeologist I. Wayan Ardika said.

Fresh evidence of age-old close links between India and Southeast Asia has been found in the ancient port towns of Sembiran and Pacung in northern Bali, says Ardika.

The major Indian port of connect with Bali in Indonesia and other places in Southeast Asia was Arikamedu, a thriving port located seven kilometres from Puducherry from where archaeologists have unearthed Roman artefacts too.

“Trade between India and Bali can be traced from as early as the late 2nd century BC. A lot of evidence exists in Sembiran and Pacung, and also the ancient port town of Julah,” Ardika told IANS on the sidelines of an international meet on Asean-India Cultural Links.

The influence of Sanskrit and the ideology of Hinduism and Buddhism which the Indian traders brought along “stimulated the rise of early state formation of kingdoms (in Bali) with an Indian base”, said Ardika, a professor of archaeology at Udayana University in Bali.

He said Julah, located near Sembiran and Pacung, was a thriving port from between the 2nd century BC and 12th century AD – for 14 centuries.

Archaeologists have found evidence of Sanskrit in the local script of the late 9th century AD. Continue reading

Early Cultural History of Spiti

A shrine for the god Dungmarchen on the rooftop of a house, Kibbar.

A shrine for the god Dungmarchen on the rooftop of a house, Kibbar.

An issue of Flight of the Khyung  by John Vincent Bellezza on his site, Tibetan Archaeology, with lengthy and scholarly discussion of the early cultural history of the Spiti valley, in the Western Himalaya. Included are “an article on the indigenous priests and spirit-mediums of Spiti compiled from interviews with them” and one on “old residential architecture of Spiti.”

Follow the link to read; here is the table of contents:

1) A Review of the Early Cultural History of Spiti – Part Two

The root song of Spiti
The territorial deities of Spiti
The triumvirate of ancient ritual practitioners in Spiti
Non-Tibetan vocabulary in the dialect of Spiti
Conclusion

2) Interviews with Jowa, Luyar and Other Luminaries in Spiti

3) A Brief Report on the Oldest Residences of Spiti

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Buddhist Stupa near Rawat threatened by encroachments

The 3rd century BC Buddhist Stupa in Mankiala village. – Photo by the writer

The 3rd century BC Buddhist Stupa in Mankiala village. – Photo by the writer

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2015

JAMAL SHAHID — PUBLISHED JUL 21, 2015 06:46AM

ISLAMABAD: It is indeed a miracle that the country’s ancient wonders are still standing, given the poor care they get.

The 3rd century BC Buddhist Stupa (a mound like structure typically containing the remains of Buddhist monks) in Mankiala village on the G.T. Road just beyond the Rawat bus stand is one such ancient ruin which has survived the test of time so far but is threatened by the chaotic urban development.

The Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) believes that the Mankiala Stupa and its monasteries are spread over an area of three miles. However, most of these remains are buried under a messy urban sprawl that has come up in the recent years.

According to Ghafoor Lone of the DOAM, this religious establishment could be one of the significant stupas built by the Indian King Ashoka who is known for not just ruling over most of the Indian subcontinent but also converting to Buddhism. The Stupa of Dharmarajika in Taxila valley, enlisted as a world heritage site with Unesco, was the first Stupa built by Ashoka to bury the ashes of Buddha. Continue reading

Buddha short-circuit: Gujarat conservation ruins cave

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The facade of the ancient Buddhist cave has been hidden behind a fibreglass shield. Inside, the floor has been plastered with freshly-laid stone tiles.

Times of India
Paul John, TNN | Jun 12, 2015, 06.07AM IST

AHMEDABAD: A Buddha tourist circuit in Gujarat was among the high points of the meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in September 2014 in Ahmedabad. But recent construction around the 4th century AD Buddhist cave in Khambalida, in Jetpur taluka of Rajkot, is an eyesore for heritage conservationists.

The facade of the ancient Buddhist cave has been hidden behind a fibreglass shield. Inside, the floor has been plastered with freshly-laid stone tiles. These are the interventions of the Gujarat archaeology department which doesn’t seem to have understood the basics of conservation.

The reason given for constructing the grotesque canopy is constant seepage from cracks during monsoon, which was dissolving the facade of the limestone cave. However, conservationists say there were better ways of protecting the monument — which had braved the vagaries of nature for over 1,600 years — than covering it with artificial material. Ajanta caves had faced a similar problem and were reinforced with compatible material. Khambhalida has three caves.

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The entrance of the central cave, ‘chaitya’, is flanked by two large sculptures of Avalokiteshvara Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara Vajrapani — both forms of Buddha. This is the only depiction of the Avalokiteshvara in a Gujarat cave. The cave features prominently in a book on Buddha circuit brought out by the government in 2010.

Former director, Gujarat state archaeology department YS Rawat said, “There was no other way. This was a limestone cave which was fragile. The fiberglass on top prevents limestone from dissolving due to seepage. The complex is also sinking as a whole due to weakening and had to be supported by pillars.”

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