Jammu University to host lecture on Pre-Tibetan Buddhist Rock Sculptures

News Agency of Kashmir, Dec 18, 2007

Jammu, India -- Emphasizing the need for the conservation of rich non-monumental heritage of Ladakh which is scattered all over the region in the form of rock sculptures and rock carvings, the Jammu and Kashmir Power minister Nawang Rigzin Jora today urged the young Buddhist scholars from Ladakh to conduct further research in the area and spread the awareness about their conservation among the masses, both at the national and international fora, through their work.

Jora was speaking at a lecture on "Pre-Tibetan Buddhist Rock Sculptures of Ladakh" by Dr. Phuntsog Dorjay, a Ladakhi Buddhist scholar based in Germany, which was organized by the Friends of Ladakh Society, Centre for History and Culture of Jammu and Ladakh regions, University of Jammu, and The Vijay Suri Foundation, J&K here today at Jammu University.

The Buddhist rock carvings of Ladakh are scattered throughout Leh and Kargil and its surrounding areas, which from their style, dresses and iconography, resemble the rock carvings prior to the influence of Tibetan art in the region.

"Ladakh which holds a very significant place in Central Asia has a very rich cultural heritage in the form of these rock sculptures which are usually found on the trade ancient trade routes passing through Ladakh," said Mr Jora adding history has been handed over to us mainly through the Lamas or monks in the monasteries but young scholars from Ladakh also only should come forward and conduct scientific research in this area.

Dr. Phuntsog Dorjay, who discussed in detail the "Pre-Tibetan Buddhist Rock Sculptures of Ladakh," through a powerful power point presentation, said these Buddhist rock sculptures of Ladakh covered the period between early Christian era and 10-11 th century A.D. He said in 10-11th Century, Buddhism was firmly rooted in Ladakh after the construction of Nyar-ma Temple by Lostava Rinchen bzangpo (958 to 1055 A.D), who was one of the greatest religious figures and translators and was primarily responsible for the revival of Buddhism in Tibet and Ladakh. The earliest constructed monasteries, which are still in good shape, are Alchi, Mangu, Sumda and Lotsava Lha-khang at Lamayuru. Prior to this the only example of Buddhist art in Ladakh is in the form of rock art

"These carving bear the witness of early introduction of Buddhism and Buddhist art in Ladakh from Indian side especially from Kashmir. Right through the history we find that the valley of Kashmir has remained as epicenter of erudition and a meeting point for people and ideas of carious cultures. The geographical location of Kashmir lent itself to this cross-fertilization; a place where traders, pilgrims and travelers from the neighboring parts interacted with each other leading to a sharing of ideas and cultural spheres," said Dr Dorjey who has done his Ph.D from Jammu University researching on 'The Development of Buddhist Art in Ladakh from 800 to 1200 A.D.' under the supervision of Prof. Anita Billawaria, is presently based in Hannover (Germany).

Dr Dorjey who regularly gives lectures on Himalayan Studies in Berlin University, Germany, said the rock carvings of Ladakh broadly reflects strong influence of Kashmiri sculpture tradition, the custom of carving colossal images from live rock in Ladakh may well have been inspired by carved relief in the Swat valley and Afghanistan.

Informing that an attempt has been made to compare Ladakh rock sculptures with example of Kashmiri bronzes and mural paintings from the monastery early monasteries of Ladakh and west Tibet, Dr Dorjey added that trade relation with Kashmir and the trade routes has been studied for the better understanding of the rock carvings and it is found that there was a good political and cultural contact of Kashmir with Ladakh.

Sati Sahni, eminent journalist and vice-president, Friends of Ladakh Society, while speaking at the occasion, said that congratulated Dr Dorjey for his work adding that very few people have worked on the theme of rock art in Ladakh. While SDS Jamwal, IPS has worked on rock carvings, Dr Dorjey is working on rock sculptures and if he comes out with book with his fantastic collection of pictures, it would be a very rich contribution to the society and Ladakh lovers, said Mr. Sahni.
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