Sunday, November 23, 2008

Maitreya Outline Page

The bodhisattva and next Buddha of this age is Maitreya (see the new Maitreya Outline Page). He is well represented in art both in painting and sculpture. There are two common but different appearances for depicting Maitreya. The first is as a bodhisattva wearing jewels and silks, often seated in a relaxed posture. The second is that of a fully enlightened Buddha having the major and minor marks, such as they appear in art. There are several other forms, based on literary sources, that can best be characterized as Tantric, or at least coming out of Tantric Traditions. They are not commonly found in art which probably attests to their lack of popularity as meditation practices. The most unique feature in the depictions of many of the Maitreya images are the two legs seated in a Western posture. Also, he will often be shown with a small stupa on the crown of the head.

Animal Relationships Guide

There are always many questions about animals and how they relate to different deities and symbol sets. This Animal Relationships Guide is a simple list intended to make the more common relationships clear. Also see the Animal Headed Gods & Deities and the Snakes & Serpents Outline Pages. In the set of Jataka & Avadana Stories there are a number of animal characters such as the story of how the rabbit came to be represented on the moon - A Tale of Generosity. These animals and the corresponding story titles with links will be made into a separate Animal Relationships Guide in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dakini Scripts

Two new web links have been added to the Resource Tools Outline page: Dakini Scripts and Lantsha, Vartu and Other Indian Scripts. The Lantsha script is commonly used on the back of Tibetan paintings for writing the blessings and sanctifications. The Lantsha is also used on sculpture as decorative design elements on monk's robes and occasionally around the base of a sculpture. On this textile artwork note the Ranjana script along the border used to frame the tangka. The Kalachakra monogram, a series of mantra syllables, is almost always rendered in Ranjana script when appearing in paintings or repousse sculpture.

Wisdom Calendar 2009

The new Wisdom Calendar for 2009 is available from Wisdom Publications. We have listed the subject name for each of the paintings on the HAR Wisdom Calendar Page. They are not yet added to the database. This will happen in the next few days. All of the paintings represented are from the Guimet Museum Collection, Paris, France. There are some excellent examples of late Guge style painting as well as unique iconographic forms such as the Guru Dragpo Heruka painting.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Resource Tools, Calendars & Number Sets

The outline page for Resource Tools has been updated with new links and new sections. The Tibetan Language Section now has a Wylie Transliteration link. The Calendars Section has a Chinese Dynasty Guide and two new resources for the Tibetan Lunar Calendar: 1) Holy Days, and 2) Anniversaries. There are still more dates to add to both of these pages. The problem is in tracking down the dates and then having them confirmed. So far there are no Bon, Hindu or Newar Buddhist date entries.

The Lists Section of Resource Tools is new and has two updated items. The first, Iconography Source Texts & Examples, is only new to this outline page. The second item is an expanded and updated version of the Number Sets & Lists. Previously it had been embedded in the Index Page under the letter 'N.' It became too large for the Index and now has a dedicated page.

To accompany the new Tibetan Lunar Calendar Pages an Astrology Art Outline was created. For many of these new Outline Pages and resources numerous 'thematic set' pages were also created in the HAR database in order to contextualize the related images and subjects: for example the Sidpaho Protection Charts for the Astology Outline, The Three Small Red Ones for the Number Sets & Lists, and List of Lamdre Lineage Teachers for the Lamdre Lineage Art Sets Outline, and many, many more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lamdre Lineage Art Sets

Most of the paintings depicting an individual, or several individuals, in one composition are invariably from lineage sets. At any given time sets of paintings in total number are likely to account for more than half of all Himalayan and Tibetan style art. On the HAR site we have already tried to put the Arhat sets of paintings back together where ever possible. Amongst the various 'Lama' sets there are many paintings that belong to the Lamdre lineage, an important subject of the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The Lamdre Lineage Outline Page organizes some of these partial sets and makes the work of recognizing new Lamdre paintings easier. There are currently more Lamdre images in the queue waiting to be uploaded onto the HAR website. Many more images are known but HAR hasn't yet been able to gain the required permissions to exhibit these images on the website.

Additions & Updates

The main Sakya Outline Page has been re-worked. Added to this at the bottom, as you already saw, is the Sakya Protectors Outline Page. Linked to that is a new outline page for Panjarnata Mahakala. There is still more work to be done on that subject. Also new to the Sakya Outline Page is the Monasteries & Branch Schools outline. This new page will become more meaningful and develop as more images are uploaded in the next few weeks and months. We currently have several thousand images from locations in Central and West Tibet waiting to be uploaded.

The Mural Paintings of Tibet outline became way too large and had to be split into several pages: main page, Eastern Tibet (Kham, Amdo), Central Tibet, Western Tibet. More mural images and new locations are ready to be uploaded to the HAR site. These outline pages will probably have to change again soon to accommodate all of the new images.

With the Mural Paintings of Tibet page there are also many outside shots of the buildings and caves that house the murals. In an attempt to simplify the topic of architecture the important subjects and types have been grouped together on the Architecture Outline Page. This will need to be re-worked as the technical vocabulary and terms are sorted out and standardized.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sakya Protectors Outline Page

A new outline page for Sakya Protectors has been added to the HAR site. There is a lot more explanation that needs to accompany each of these protectors, and or, their larger classifications, such as the classifications of Mahakala, Shri Devi, the Three Kings, etc. The image on the left is of the goddess Ekajati, the mother of Mahakala and Shri Devi, from the system of Panjarnata Mahakala according to the Vajrapanjara Tantra. She is included as one of the retinue figures in the Eight Deity Panjarnata practice. She is also included in the Three Deity Panjarnata practice of the Sakya Tradition.

There are many deities represented in the various, Buddhist, Bon and Hindu traditions of the Himalayas that have the same name and sometimes a similar appearance. These deities are not always the same in origin myth, form or function. Great care and sensitivity must be used when recognizing a specific deity along with explaining that deity from the side of the tradition it belongs in.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Navigation On The Site

Please go to the bottom of the page and let us know by using the POLL how easy it is to use the HAR website. We are currently going through and cleaning up confusing pathways and broken links. We are also moving towards a new Home Page that is clearer and easier to navigate but are not yet ready to unveil these changes.

Your input is desired and asked for. You are also welcome to post a comment about how you feel the website can be improved. In the past when we have asked for user response and comments we rarely got anything except positive feedback. We like positive comments but that is not what we are looking for here. We want to hear your ideas for improvements to the site, or suggestions about content that you feel should be added to the site. We have our own ideas, now it is up to you to share your ideas with us.