Panel: Made in Nepal – Recent Research on the Production of Texts, Art and Performances


Raum: F 3, EG, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Mo 13:30-14:00 Bajracharya / Michaels How Buddhist is the Nepalese Wright Chronicle?
Mo 14:00-14:30 Isaacson Bhartṛhari in Nepal
Mo 14:30-15:00 Bhattarai Dividing Texts: Conventions of visual text-organization in Nepalese manuscripts up to ca. CE 1300
Mo 15:00-15:30 Bühnemann Bhairava and the Eight Charnel Grounds: On the History of a Monumental Painting at the Jayavāgīśvarī Temple, Kathmandu
Mo 15:30-16:00 Pause
Mo 16:00-16:30 Zotter, A. Königliche Rituale ohne König
Mo 16:30-17:00 Zotter, C. Neue vedische Rituale in Nepal


Gudrun Bühnemann, Astrid Zotter

Beschreibung des Panels:

For as long as evidence for civilization reaches back, the Kathmandu Valley has been a place of contact for people and cultures of various origins. From early on Indologists have appreciated Nepal as a place where texts and performative traditions have been preserved that ceased to exist in other parts of South Asia long back. However, more recently scholars have also begun to study Nepal’s own cultural production. The papers in this panel present new research on textual, iconographic and performative traditions that originated in Nepal. Panel languages are English and German.


Indologie und Südasienkunde

Abstracts der Vorträge:

Bajracharya, Manik / Michaels, Axel: How Buddhist is the Nepalese Wright Chronicle?

Nineteenth century Nepal saw a proliferation of genealogical texts (vaṃśāvalīs). Among them, one of the most circulated ones is the so-called Wright’s Chronicle. This vaṃśāvalī, whose appropriate name would be Naipālika-Bhūpa-Vaṃśāvalī (“Genealogy of the Kings of Nepal”) as its opening stanzas suggest, was most probably composed in the 1830’s by a Newar Buddhist scholar in Patan. Translated into English by Daniel Wright, it was published in 1877.

Among the about one dozen vaṃśāvalīs composed in Nepali language in the nineteenth century, the vaṃśāvalī in question stands out for one particular reason: it is Buddhist in nature. Even though it shares many of the historical records and legends that are found in other contemporary vaṃśāvalīs composed by Hindu pundits, it conveys certain Buddhist considerations such as: the Buddhist account of the origin of the Valley, emphasis on the Buddhist activities of virtue and rituals performed by the kings, accounts of popular Buddhist deities and priests, accounts of Buddhist monasteries and so on.

This paper will analyze characteristics of the vaṃśāvalī that are uniquely Buddhist and will try to answer the question of why it was necessary to compose a Buddhist recension of it in the nineteenth century.

Bhattarai, Bidur: Dividing Texts: Conventions of visual text-organization in Nepalese manuscripts up to ca. CE 1300

Since ancient times, continuing through the Middle Ages and into the modern period, there is a long and significant tradition of Sanskrit manuscripts in Nepal. The Nepalese palm-leaf manuscripts which are being investigated in this study have been produced between approximately 800 and 1300 CE. Comprehension of the techniques used by scribes to divide and demarcate texts on several levels are central to the subject of text-organization in manuscripts overall. At this stage, it is reasonable to propose that the type, quality and size of the writing materials used for manuscript production have had huge implications on the way demarcation devices have been employed by the scribes to visually divide and organize the texts or text-sections or even smaller text units (i.e. stanzas). So far, the focus has been on four particular demarcation devices: (1) blank spaces, (2) variations in size and/or the style of writing, (3) symbols such as pupikās, and (4) colour in the form of rubrication. These devices may exist individually or occur in combination. However, it is still too early to make out clear conventions being used in Nepal for the production of manuscripts. Commonly applied rules or standards, or the tendency for certain characteristics to appear frequently will only be verified after a greater number of manuscripts have been investigated.

Bühnemann, Gudrun: Bhairava and the Eight Charnel Grounds: On the History of a Monumental Painting at the Jayavāgīśvarī Temple, Kathmandu

In this talk I will trace the history of the large mural of Bhairava on the northern wall of the Jayavāgīśvarī Temple in Deupāṭan, Kathmandu. I will show that the colourful painting, far from being a modern creation, is the product of a tradition of renewal dating back to at least 1755/56 CE. I will further discuss the significance of the representation of the Eight Charnel Grounds in the painting, which features a directional guardian, a Mahāsiddha with a female attendant, a Mother Goddess, a bhūta tending a funeral pyre, a tree, a characteristic animal, a caitya and a śivaliṅga. The combined appearance of a caitya and a śivaliṅga, two prominent objects of worship, became popular in Buddhist as well as in Śaiva texts and images in mid-seventeenth-century Nepal. The representation of the Eight Charnel Grounds in the painting was possibly modelled on Buddhist iconographic practice, since such details are rarely represented in Śaiva works of art.

Isaacson, Harunaga: Bhartṛhari in Nepal

In his celebrated edition of ‘The Epigrams Attributed to Bhartṛhari’ (1946), D.D. Kosambi asserted that there was no Nepalese recension of a ‘Bhartṛhari’ collection of verses. The only manuscript from Nepal of which he was aware was late (bearing a date corresponding to 1805 CE), and belonged, according to Kosambi, to ‘the Y [southermost] version’; he suspected that it had Mahārāṣṭrian provenance.

In the course of the work of the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project, a number of manuscripts of collections of verses attributed to Bhartṛhari, microfilmed by the Nepal German Manuscript Preservation Project, have come to light. These include material that is older than any known to Kosambi. This paper will introduce this ‘new’ material, and assess its importance for our understanding of the origin and transmission of this popular body of Sanskrit verses.

Zotter, Astrid: Königliche Rituale ohne König

Im Zuge der Entmachtung des letzten nepalischen Königs wurde diesem zunehmend auch der Zugang zu seinen Rollen in öffentlichen Ritualen verweigert. Noch bevor im Mai 2008 das Ende der Monarchie offiziell verkündet wurde, hatte es sich bereits etabliert, den Monarchen in solchen Veranstaltungen durch das neue Staatsoberhaupt zu ersetzen. Und so erhält nun der Präsident eines offiziell säkularen Staates den jährlichen Segen der Kumārī, der lebenden Göttin, oder stattet dem wichtigsten Śivatempel des Landes an Śivarātri einen Staatsbesuch ab.

In diesem Vortrag wird zum einen auf historische Vorlagen für diese Ersetzungen verwiesen, die in der Zeit der Gründung Nepals als Flächenstaat im späten 18. Jahrhundert zu suchen sind. Vor diesem Hintergrund lässt sich die Substitution des Königs durch den Präsidenten als eine Aktualisierung des Gründungsmythos des Staates auffassen. Zum anderen wird gezeigt, dass die Anpassung an die neue politische Realität nicht in allen ehemals königlichen Ritualen durch einfache Ersetzung erfolgt. Wie am Beispiel der khaḍgasiddhijātrā des Pacalībhairava gezeigt werden wird, geben alternative Modelle Anlass zu intellektuellen Debatten um die Rolle von Göttern und Ritualen im „neuen Nepal“ und werden zum Austragungsort von Identitätskonflikten.

Zotter, Christof: Neue vedische Rituale in Nepal

Von neuen vedischen Ritualen zu sprechen, mag widersprüchlich klingen.  Die Ritualtraditionen, die sich auf den Veda zurückführen und daher als vedisch (vaidika) bezeichnet werden, gelten zu Recht als konservativ und orthoprax. Die verfügbaren Quellen zeugen jedoch auch davon, dass über die Jahrhunderte hinweg immer wieder Änderungen im überlieferten Ritualbestand vorgenommen wurden. Alte Rituale wurden aktualisiert und mit der sich verändernden Praxis abgeglichen. Neue Bedürfnisse konnten aber auch zur Schaffung neuer Rituale führen.

Der Beitrag konzentriert sich auf die in Nepal seit alters her dominierende vedische Schule, den Mādhyaṃdina-Zweig des Weißen Yajurveda. An ausgewählten historischen und aktuellen Beispielen aus dieser Tradition soll gezeigt werden, mit welchen Strategien und Techniken brahmanische Priester und Gelehrte auf Neues reagierten und Rituale entwarfen, die eine vedische Identität wahren konnten.