Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Newsletter: November 08 - January 2009

The Newsletter is out and can be found on the Home Page under New On the Site. It mostly talks about the Blog, the new Google Custom Search on the site and the request for testimonials.

Those of you that follow the Blog will be familiar with everything in the Newsletter already. The only new item is the Collection Addition of the Ocean of Tantras. These images are modern. They are published in China and they are likely the product of Photoshop. What is important is that they represent all of the sixty-eight mandalas from a rare Jonang Tradition text called the Gyu De Gyatso (rgyud sde rgya mtsho). The art quality is negligible but their iconographic importance justifies inclusion on the HAR website.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Request For Testimonials

The HAR website is requesting, for the purposes of grant writing and fund raising, scholars, academics, and educators of all kinds to send in testimonials of support to be posted on the site. The website was created and went live in 1997. Technology has changed, hardware is more robust, and software offers many more features and benefits to the end users. The HAR website needs to look towards the future with plans for new technologies, upgrades to existing infra-structure and new user features. Please help us in moving the field forward. Thank You.

Send testimonials to:, or

--- Jeff Watt
Director & Chief Curator

Sunday, January 11, 2009

HAR Home Page: Google Custom Search

The Google Custom Search has now been added to the HAR Home Page. It is also located on the Advanced Search Page and the HAR Blog Page.

New Search & Changes to Navigation

A Google Search Box has been added to the top right of the HAR Blog Page and to the Advanced Search Page. The HAR Home Page is in the process of being re-designed and simplified. When it is finished it will include the Google Search as well.

The navigation menu that appears on the left side of most pages has been re-ordered and includes more choices. Content from some pages has been moved to the Introduction Page. The About Us Page has been simplified. The new pages called Art History and Iconography are still being worked on so please have patience for now.

The Function & Relationships Guide/Glossary has been doubled in size and all of the links are slowly being added. We will now begin to annotate the entries. If you think that we have left things off the list then please let us know.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Amitabha/Amitayus Outline Page

Amitabha and Amitayus, although one and the same Buddha, they are each represented differently in art. Amitabha is always depicted in traditional monk's robes whereas Amitayus is lavishly attired in jewels, ornaments, silks and wearing an elaborate crown.

Most of the paintings of Amitabha Buddha show him seated is the pureland of Sukhavati surrounded by the two principle bodhisattva disciples, Lokeshvara and Sthamaprapta, and the Eight Great Bodhisattvas. Amitabha is also found depicted in simple painted compositions without excessive embellishment or complexity. Amitayus Buddha, of which there are far more paintings and sculpture to look at, is generally depicted in a Tantric context of mandalas, seated with a consort, or surrounded by hosts of retinue deities.

The depictions of Amitabha seem to be based more on Mahayana scripture and narrative while the images of Amitayus appear to be much more Tantric in nature and incorporate ritual and meditation elements.

These are just quick observations made in the moment. In the process of creating a graphic outline page all of the images of a particular subject need to be looked at, identified, labeled, and grouped according to type, context, etc. At the end of this, we look again at all of the images, such as for Amitabha/Amitayus, and one can't help but have a renewed and revitalized view of the subject.

Marichi 'Goddess of the Dawn' Outline Page

The goddess Marichi, although not so popular in the last few centuries, was at one time a very important deity in Tantric Buddhism. She has a very large number of different forms both peaceful and wrathful, simple and complex. The most consistent features found in her iconography are a pig, or sow, face to the side or above the main face. She can be riding atop a pig or horse, or seated in a chariot drawn by five or seven pigs or horses. She is usually either red or yellow in colour. In some depictions Marichi is shown holding a branch of the Ashoka tree and a sewing needle.

Four Guardian Kings Outline Page

The Four Guardian Kings are found throughout the Northern Buddhist World however they only really exist within two frameworks: together with the (1) set of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Arhats and at (2) the entrances to Buddhist temples. The Guardian Kings Page and the Arhats Main Page have been updated and revised with many new objects placed under their respective headings. In keeping with this work the Arhats Outline Page will be updated, split into several pages, expanded and simplified over the next few weeks.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Review: Reflections on Amy Heller’s Early Himalayan Art

A new review on the Asian Art ( website - Reflections on Amy Heller’s Early Himalayan Art by Melissa Kerin Ph.D.
The works discussed in the publication are the early Himalayan pieces from the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University (see publication information).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Function & Relationships Guide/Glossary

A new glossary has been added to the Main Glossary and the Glossary Resources Links Page of HAR. The new Function & Relationships Guide is primarily iconographic. It relates various activities, functions and concepts to the different deities represented in the art. There are some references to people included especially where the unique or particular function characterizes that person, such as Milarepa with song, Tangtong Gyalpo with theatre and iron working, and Drugpa Kunleg as a joker and trickster. The glossary will be annotated over the next few weeks.

Seven glossaries on the site with more on the way: the Main Glossary has been updated and the Caution Words and Buddha Names were both updated recently.

1.Himalayan Art Resources Main Glossary: a general glossary of common Himalayan 'Style' Art terms, both technical and general.

2. Animal Relationships Guide/Glossary: a simple list intended to directly reference the different types of animals depicted in art and iconography to the important deity subjects and symbol sets.

3. Bon Religion & Culture Technical Glossary: a glossary sensitive to the subtleties of the Bon religion, iconography and unique terminology.

4. Buddha Names Glossary: a list and description of the numerous Buddhas that are depicted in Himalayan art.

5. Caution Words & Sensitive Subjects: mistakes from the past, sloppy iconography, sensitive and political subjects, terminology, definitions, etc.

6. Function & Relationships Guide/Glossary: linking up the functions, activities and concepts to the principal deities, gods and figures in Himalayan art.

7. Mahasiddha Technical Glossary: most of what you need to know in order to understand the subject of mahasiddhas.