Saturday, October 25, 2008

Collections on the Site

Sometimes I don't think that visitors to the site are aware of how many different museums, institutions and private collections are actually represented on HAR. There is an Outline Page titled Collections Worldwide that lists all of these different collections. For many of the museums we have formal agreements and received the images directly from them, in some cases along with stipulations as to attribution and dating. There are some museums listed on the outline page that we are still trying to include on the site. These collections will not have a HAR link icon following their name.

We don't have formal relationships with all of the museums. For some we have simply taken digital photographs of the Himalayan objects that are on display in their galleries such as for the National Museum of India, the Capital Museum in Beijing, and others. This is only done in museums that allow photography, generally without the use of a camera flash.

There are well over one hundred Private & Photographic Archive Collections on the site. The first thing that you will probably think is that there aren't one hundred names listed on the page just provided. This is true. Most of the private collections prefer to be anonymous and are found under the title of Private Collections and on the outline page are found under the heading of Unnamed Collections. Probably it would be more clear and accurate if we change this to Anonymous Collections. All of theses collections come from all over the world. Some are professionally photographed and others are not. The Photographic Archives are generally collections of images taken of art in situ of murals or architecture in the Himalayan regions, Tibet, Mongolia, etc.

Other museum collection resources on the site can be found through the HAR Links page. Under Subject there are three museum listings : Museums Asia, Museums Europe, and Museums North America. Under North America also see USA Museums by State. These pages were the first attempt by HAR some years ago to try and locate collections of Himalayan art around the world and make them more widely known. These lists are are in desperate need of updating and are quite inaccurate by today's standards and what is currently known. We will try and have these updated in November.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Newsletter: August - October 2008

Well, we finally finished and got the August - October Newsletter mailed out to the HAR e-mail subscription list. Four times a year doesn't sound like a lot for a newsletter but when you have to put it together each time and keep track of all the new additions and changes then it can seem like a lot of work. Possibly the Blog will make the announcement of HAR changes and additions easier and maybe down the road the quarterly newsletter will become redundant. We'll have to wait and see.

What's in the newsletter? The most important new feature, as you already know, is the Blog. There are also several new collections added to the site and a number of new and changed Outline Pages, also called Topic Outlines. The section Iconography: Deities & Subjects became too big and the contents list was split into two pages to fit on an average monitor without too much scrolling. There should be a number of new additions to this section in the near future. There is a stack of hand drawn outline pages waiting to be typed up and posted on the site. If any of you have wondered what program we use to make the outline pages then look to the Mindjet website and a program called Mind Manager. There are a number of similar advanced image mapping programs out there but until proven otherwise Mind Manager is the best for our purposes.

There is a lot of trial and error with this site because we are trying to do two things. First, the site is a database of images from collections around the world. Secondly, it is a knowledge base where we try and provide as much information as possible (in reality as time allows) as well as placing the objects and subjects into a larger context. The Topic Outline Pages are the principal means that we use to try and do this contextualization.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hats: Who's who in the world of hats?

Hats are actually a big deal in religion and art. In art they help us to identify particular people, hierarchy and religious traditions. They also help us track hats in different paintings and sculpture over time (art history) and help to determine the age of particular works of art, and why, because hats change over time. More importantly hats are fun, weird and sometimes strange. What about the black hat of the Karmapas supposedly made from the hair of one hundred thousand Dakinis? What's a Dakini?

There is also the raven topped crown of the king of Bhutan. This hat is based on a religious hat used in fearsome protection rituals. How did it end up on the head of a king in a kingdom that still exists? How many Himalayan kingdoms are left?

Hats are interesting and each has a story about how it came about, why it has a certain colour and shape, and who can and who can't wear the hat. It is very much a staus thing. The hat in the image on the left is the special hat of the Mindroling hierarchs and in this case worn by Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje in a very rare Tibetan portrait painting.

Look to Hats of the Himalayas for an overview of the different hats and the traditions to which they belong. This is just a preliminary look and a lot more work needs to be done. What is very important to remember is that hats are one of the most important iconographic keys in the study, identification and recognition of Himalayan and Tibetan teachers. Hats, who knew!

First Post

This is the first post of the HAR blog site. The intention of this new site is to create an open forum in which we might discuss all matters concerned with Himalayan art.