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Nepal’s most popular Buddhist nun is a musical rock star

d9171742e5174a7d9ea903c07c198615Yahoo News
October 13, 2016

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — There is one Buddhist nun everyone in Nepal knows by name — not because she’s a religious icon and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, nor for her work running a girl’s school and a hospital for kidney patients.

Ani Choying Drolma is famous as one of the country’s biggest pop stars.

With more than 12 albums of melodious Nepali tunes and Tibetan hymns that highlight themes of peace and harmony, the songstress in saffron robes has won hearts across the Himalayan nation and abroad.

“I am totally against the conservative, conventional idea of a Buddhist nun,” the 45-year-old nun said. Some people “think a Buddhist nun should be someone who does not come out in the media so much, who is isolated … always in a monastery, always shy. But I don’t believe in that.”

Neither do her fans, who greet her with a roar of applause whenever she walks out on stage, and fall silent as she closes her eyes to sing.

“Every time I get frustrated with life or get angry, I just listen to Ani’s music and I calm down,” said one fan, Sunil Tuladhar. “She is my music goddess.”

But with a career deviating sharply from what conservatives in Nepal believe to be the proper path of a Buddhist, she’s caught criticism as well. One Buddhist monk at the famed Swayambhu Shrine questioned how she can reconcile the simple life of a religious ascetic with the fame and wealth she’s amassed over her two-decade musical career.

“How can a nun be making money by selling her voice, living a luxurious life and yet claim she is a nun?” Surya Shakya asked. Continue reading

Exploring China’s new frontier e

Reporter: Han Bin 丨

10-12-2016 13:01 BJT

The Ancient Silk Road was not only a trade route, but also a corridor for ideas to flow.

Today in the Uygur Autonomous Region, the major religion is Islam. Prior to the arrival of Islam, it was Buddhism. One of the greatest legacies from that time is the murals, in the Grottoes of Qiuci, another name for the ancient kingdom of Kucha. 

In today’s episode, reporter Han Bin takes us to see the paintings and what’s being done to restore them.

Entering an ancient kingdom, the paintings reveal a lost oasis on the Silk Road. For the past 18 years, Ye Mei has been investigating their secrets.

“I’ve always been curious to study how murals drawn some 2,000 years ago, have survived to this day. How can we better protect them to extend their survival in the future?” said Ye Mei, director of Institute of Qiuci Grottoes Protection.

Ye Mei told us the grottoes house the cultural achievements of the region’s ancient ethnic groups.

They show that ancient civilization was built on the integration of the dominant Buddhist culture with several other religious cultures.

The murals are rich and diverse in content. But time and the elements have taken their toll. And the actual number of grottoes and murals is still a mystery.

Ye said, “Qiuci was a very inclusive and prosperous society. It was a key hub of the ancient Silk Road, a key melting pot for different cultures. These characteristics are fully reflected in the paintings. Like this figure: he’s a high-ranking nobleman, with short hair, a half-length robe, and a small sword.”

For a long time, Qiuci was the most populous oasis in the Tarim Basin. The Qiuci Grottoes are the most famous Buddhist art site in Xinjiang. The influence of the different civilizations from the West and the East were profound. The glory enjoyed over one thousand years ago still lingers today. Continue reading

The Buddha: exhibition at the Tropenmuseum in


19_ DE BOEDDHA-Van levensverhaal tot inspiratiebron_ Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden_12 febr. tm 14 aug. 2016


10_ DE BOEDDHA-Van levensverhaal tot inspiratiebron_ Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden_12 febr. tm 14 aug. 2016

[from Museum website]

23 september 2016 until January 2017

A life story and a source of inspiration
Do you have a Buddha at home? What do you know about Buddhism?

Buddhism is hugely popular. The Netherlands alone has around 500 Buddhist centres. What makes the life story of this spiritual leader so intriguing? Why do we all fall for the portrait of the Buddha? And what do we actually know about this icon?

Do you have a Buddha at home?
What do you know about Buddhism?
Discover how Buddhism is experienced worldwide. Join us on a journey through centuries-old Chinese monasteries and to the Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal, to the Indonesian Borobudur and the so-called Tulip Buddhism in the Netherlands.

There have never been so many Buddha statues in the Tropenmuseum before. With the help of 100 Buddha statues, including unique international top items, you’ll follow the life story of one of the most inspiring figures in world history.


What’s Zen Got to Do With It? Pace HK Explores Buddhism in Art


Hiroshi Sugimoto, “Sea of Buddha 001, 002, 003,” 1995, Photo gelatin silver print, 119.4 x 149.2 cm, three prints each (Courtesy the artist and Pace HK)

Blouin Art Info, BY CLAIRE BOUCHARA | OCTOBER 03, 2016

Pace Hong Kong presents the work of five Asian artists from China and Japan, exploring the influence of Zen thought on the visual language of contemporary art.

The title of the exhibition, “Where Can The Dust Alight,” is a Buddhist saying, embodying Zen thoughts related to “emptiness” and “nothingness” — the core philosophical ideas of Zen Buddhism. The exhibition runs through November 12.

Hong Hao, Liu Jianhua, Song Dong, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Zhang Huan showcase paintings and installations exploring how Asian contemporary art interprets Zen thought through “new definitions of meditative experience and the transformation of the role of the self in art.” Each artist appropriates various symbols or rituals from Eastern religions and philosophies into their artwork to also enquire whether Zen ideas impact conceptual Asian art practices.

Famed Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto presents a series of works repetitively featuring the scene of 1000 Avalokiteshvara Buddha statues in a temple in Kyoto. In this work, the artist draws from the influences behind Buddhist sculptures. Meanwhile, Zhang Huan takes inspiration from the Tibetan religion and culture in his oil painting “Spring Poppy Fields No.24,” which results in a dramatic expression of chaos and illusion.

Acclaimed performance artist Song Dong looks into Buddhist Mandala rituals in “Mandala.” The ritual involves monks carefully drawing designs using crushed gems, only to brush them away and return to a state of emptiness.

Renowned for his porcelain craftsmanship, Liu Jianhua shows conceptual work created with his porcelain pieces, including the “Untitled 2012” series comprising cloudy blue porcelain plates and cobalt glaze.

“Where Can The Dust Alight” runs through November 12 at Pace, Hong Kong.



The Pioneer, Tuesday, 27 September 2016 | Sugyan Choudhury | in Bhubaneswar

A Keralite by birth but an Odishan by choice having four decades of experience in travel and tourism; Benjamin Simon is the unofficial brand ambassador of Odisha tourism. He is a member of the advisory board to Odisha ecotourism and a member of the advisory board to Odisha Tourism. Having had his schooling from the celebrated Infant Jesus School and his college education from the Fatima Mata National College, Kerala, Benjamin has an additional advantage with his brilliant accent and suave manners to interact with foreign tourists and entice them and to market Odisha tourism overseas. “Odisha with its 480-km-long coastline, sylvan shores, dense forests with flora and fauna, tribal heritage, Buddhist monuments, adorned with quintessential temple art and architectures is like a sleeping giant, which needs to be awakened to the level of world-class tourism second to none globally,” opines Simon. In an interview to The Pioneer, Simon, a living encyclopedia on Odisha tourism, shared his brilliant ideas with Sugyan Choudhury for turning Odisha into a vibrant tourism State to earn huge foreign exchanges for banishing poverty and unemployment from the State.

How and when were you initiated into the tourism sector?

It is like a story of my yesterday. It was the year 1977. As a student of history, I had my visions settled in Konark, and I wanted to visit the place somehow or other. I came to Odisha without knowing a b c about tourism. Once while I was sitting with my uncle in the lobby of Prachi Hotel now called Marion, I chanced upon an American executive with his friends. They loved my accent and manners and wanted me to accompany them in their daily tours. They were feeling like fish out of water owing to the communication gap with local people. I helped them for a month and they gave me some dollars. It was both paying and as well as exciting for a young man like me to come in contact with foreign tourists and being appreciated by them. This motivated me and I began travelling to the inaccessible regions like Similipal, Kandhamal and Koraput. Sometimes, I had to walk 30 km with the help of local postmen. My foreign visitors loved to enjoy those sites. They loved to see the nature in its pristine purity at Similipal, Koraput and such other places. They loved to see the Kutia Kandhas and other aboriginals. At times, they loved to spend 21 days at a stretch to experience nature in its glory and grandeur. They felt they were spending time in Odisha which has something worth its own, conspicuous by its absence in the din and bustle of the civilised world. And it was paying for me too to act as their guide and guardian. I then began preparing write-ups about the tourist spots with active cooperation and guidance of professors of the Utkal University, who appreciated my efforts to explore Odisha tourism. Those write-ups were despatched to agents both at home and abroad. When domestic and foreign tourists came with those despatches, they visited those spots and felt as if their dreams came true. I then introduced many innovations into the profession and, unknowingly, had begun an innings in tourism. Continue reading

In Delhi, an art exhibition invites the viewer to reimagine architecture and archaeology


Image credit: Debasish Mukherjee

‘The Museum Within’ reflects artist Debasish Mukherjee’s personal observations from historical sites.

In Delhi, an art exhibition invites the viewer to reimagine architecture and archaeology
Image credit: Debasish Mukherjee

During his years of studying fine arts at Banaras Hindu University in the 1990s, Debasish Mukherjee would make frequent visits to Sarnath, a Buddhist site 12 kilometres from Varanasi.

Sarnath is home to ancient Buddhist monasteries and its most popular feature is the 128 feet-high Dhamek Stupa. However, the efforts to preserve this heritage site have been limited.


Debasish Mukherjee | Box Series | Wood, rice paper, terracotta & sand stone | 12 x 12 x 58 inches | 2016

“I saw it deteriorate in front of my eyes,” said Mukherjee. “Why is it that there is such little appreciation or respect for heritage in India? Some monuments attract the attention of the authorities, but most of the sites are kept in a sad condition – they are dilapidated, have fallen prey to vandalism or just been whitewashed in the name of conservation.”

His first solo art show, The Museum Within, is a reflection of Mukherjee’s inner sense of preservation. It is his attempt to re-imagine the roles of archaeologist, museum curator, conservator and fashion designer.

“My work replicates the manner in which a historic site is discovered and preserved as a museum artefact,” said Mukherjee.

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Curator Kanika Anand describes Mukherjee’s work as similar to that of an archaeologist’s in her curatorial note. As she writes, the archaeologist draws a site grid before excavation, creating a precise map of features and artefacts. A rectangular grid is then superimposed over the site, marking out a fixed points, she says. Mukherjee’s work follows a similar grid-like plan – with “repetitive units recording a series of related finds”.

For instance, in the “white cube series”, objects appear as excavated artefacts, cocooned within muddy surfaces. This is Mukherjee’s attempt to represent a transitory stage between the artefact’s unearthing to its eventual placement for public viewing, Anand writes. Continue reading

Kolmar Korea Chairman to donate 700-year-old Buddhist painting to national museum

One man’s love and devotion for South Korean history and cultural assets has allowed a 700-year-old Buddhist painting to return to the homeland after decades of overseas life.

According to Kolmar Korea Co., the country’s leading cosmetics original design manufacturing (ODM) company on Monday, its chairman Yoon Dong-han spent 2.5 billion won ($2.3 million) to buy “Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara,” a Buddhist painting from Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) that was taken out of the country by Japan, and decided to permanently donate the painting to the National Museum of Korea.

Yoon bought the Buddhist painting of Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara from an antiquary in Japan through an art dealer in June after obtaining information this spring that an art dealer is looking for a buyer of Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara possessed in Japan.

Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara is considered one of the best Goryeo paintings of the 14th century. Currently, about 160 pieces of Goryeo Buddhist paintings exist around the world, and of them, 130 pieces are in Japan and 20 pieces are held by museums in the United States and Europe. Most of them have been looted by Japanese raiders in late Goryeo period while others have flown out of the country during the Japanese colonial period.

When it comes to Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara, which depicts one of the most popular Buddhist deities in East Asia, there are only about 40 pieces left in the world. In Korea, only a few private museums and galleries including Leeum (Samsung Museum of Art), Horim Museum, and Yong In University museum own the paintings considered the country’s best masterpiece so far, but none of national or public museums has it, the fact that has led Kolmar Chairman Yoon decided to donate the painting to the National Museum of Korea, according to an unnamed official at Kolmar Korea. The National Museum of Korea is expected to receive the donation in early October after internal administrative procedure.

By Lee Dong-in