Art and Devotion at a Buddhist Temple in the Indian Himalaya by Melissa R. Kerin

By Melissa R. Kerin

Sixteenth-century wall work in a Buddhist temple within the Tibetan cultural area of northwest India are the focal point of this leading edge and richly illustrated examine. before everything formed via one set of non secular ideals, the work have seeing that been reinterpreted and retraced via a later Buddhist neighborhood, subsumed inside of its non secular framework and communal reminiscence. Melissa Kerin lines the devotional, political, and creative histories that experience encouraged the work' construction and reception over the centuries in their use. Her interdisciplinary process combines artwork historic tools with inscriptional translation, ethnographic documentation, and theoretical inquiry to appreciate non secular photographs in context.

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This is an especially important goal in the study of western Himalayan and Tibetan art, which has largely been concerned with questions of chronology, style, and iconography. 15 This ethnographic method allows one to consider how this temple was folded within the village’s changing meaning systems and devotional practices, thereby producing more nuanced insights about the intricate relationship between devotee and religious object within the western Himalayan Buddhist context. The methodological approach employed in chapter 1 primarily relies on fieldwork and ethnography, although I also survey textual accounts, in particular the royal chronicles of the two neighboring kingdoms of Ladakh and Guge.

1. Map of villages researched in Kinnaur and Spiti. 1). It is this stretch of approximately eighty kilometers that is known as the Upper Kinnaur region, which is less an official or administrative term than it is a descriptive one. Today, two routes take the traveler to Upper Kinnaur. One of these requires travel through Lahaul, over the Kunzum Pass, and into Spiti. 2 The other is through Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, along National Highway 22, which follows the Sutlej River. As Nako is not located directly on the Sutlej, a link road of seven kilometers connects Nako to 16 ∙ Art and Devotion at a Buddhist Temple in the Indian Himalaya the highway.

This book is very much a story about an overlooked temple set within a marginalized region of India. Yet what this microhistory reveals is how such a site, when thoroughly documented and investigated, yields useful insights into the complex, overlapping, and nebulous networks of meaning, re/use, and reception at a single site over time. In this case, these paintings reveal the richly complex social, religious, and political environments of the western Himalaya during the late medieval period, but also the present day.

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