Shan caves awarded as smoke-free heritage site

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Buddha statues inside the Shwe Umin Pagoda Paya, Myanmar. Source Nick Fox / Shutterstock

via Myanmar Times, 26 November 2018: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance recognizes the Pindaya Buddhist Caves complex for its efforts in making it a smoke-free site.

Buddha statues inside the Shwe Umin Pagoda Paya, Myanmar. Source Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Buddha statues inside the Shwe Umin Pagoda Paya, Myanmar. Source Nick Fox / Shutterstock

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance has honoured Pindaya Caves in Shan State with an award for promoting a healthy environment and preserving the uniqueness of its culture by being a smoke-free heritage site.

The Southeast Asian anti-tobacco advocacy group gave the award to Pindaya Caves at the 6th Regional Meeting of Smoke-Free Cities in the Asia-Pacific Region and the Summit of Smoke-Free Leaders in Hoi An, Vietnam, last week.

Source: Shan caves awarded as smoke-free heritage site | The Myanmar Times

[Lecture] Buddhist Accounts of Maritime Crossing in the Southern Seas

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Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk at ISEAS, as part of the Singapore’s Pasts lecture series.

Date: Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Time: 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm
Venue: ISEAS Seminar Room 2

 

About the Lecture
The talk will present select passages of Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan sources narrating the sea passages of Buddhist monks travelling by ship between India and China via Southeast Asia. In particular, it will discuss the trope of the “miraculous aversion of shipwrecks”, highlighting the elements of intertextuality that emerge from the accounts. It will then analyse a similar motif found in the Sejarah Melayu, namely the avoidance of shipwrecks by Sang Nila Utama on the occasion of his crossing of the Straits. On the basis of this passage and other textual and archaeological evidence, it will argue that the Sejarah Melayu features pre-Islamic elements drawn from a “Buddhist fund” going back to the polity of Śrīvijaya.

About the Speaker
Andrea Acri (PhD Leiden University, 2011) is Assistant Professor in Tantric Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (PSL University, Paris), and Associate Fellow at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre. He has held various research and teaching positions in India, Singapore, the UK, and Australia. He has authored articles in international academic journals and published edited volumes on Shaiva and Buddhist tantric traditions in South and Southeast Asia, as well as wider cultural and historical dynamics of Intra-Asian connectivity. His monograph Dharma Pātañjala, originally appeared in the Gonda Indological Studies Series (Egbert Forsten/Brill, 2011), has been recently republished in India by Aditya Prakashan (New Delhi, 2017), and is being published in Indonesian translation by EFEO/Gramedia.

New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, Saraburi

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New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, practically invisible to the naked eye. Only parts of the "wings" can be seen easily.

Over the weekend, fellow rock art enthusiast Francesco Germi and I took a day trip from Bangkok to Saraburi province to visit Wat Phraphuttachai, a temple known for its Buddhist and ‘prehistoric’ rock art. For my doctoral research, I studied rock art sites across Mainland Southeast Asia that had later become religious shrines and so this site was of some personal interest.

Wat Phraphuttachai, Saraburi province, Thailand

Wat Phraphuttachai, Saraburi province, Thailand

Wat Phraphuttachai is located on a cliff face and the gold-roofed pavilion at the side of the cliff contains its namesake: a Buddhist rock painting in which is said to be an imprint of the Buddha himself.

Buddha's imprint, the 'Phraphutthachai' of Wat Phraphuttachai

Buddha’s imprint, the ‘Phraphutthachai’ of Wat Phraphuttachai

Just beside the entrance of this pavilion is a small section of wall that contain some other rock paintings. The rock art, which was gazetted by the Fine Arts Department in 1935, consists of hand prints, some honeycomb designs and an assortment of fragmentary red paintings. Most are extremely hard to see today.

The cliff side of Wat Phraphuttachai. The rock art is located just to the right of the pavilion's entrance, behind the Buddha statues.

The cliff side of Wat Phraphuttachai. The rock art is located just to the right of the pavilion’s entrance, behind the Buddha statues.

Red handprints and examples of very faded paintings at the site

Red hand prints and examples of very faded paintings at the site.

It wasn’t until we got back home and started to analyse our pictures with DStretch that we realised that one section of the wall with fragmentary paintings was actually a massive and magnificent image of the Buddha! Like the Phraphutthachai image, this Buddha is also life-sized but is more embellished.

New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, practically invisible to the naked eye. Only parts of the "wings" can be seen easily.

New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, practically invisible to the naked eye. Only parts of the “wings” can be seen easily.

I’m wondering now if the paintings all belong to the historic Buddhist period, rather than a two-layer prehistoric-then-Buddhist occupation. It could be some of the earlier paintings that were called human and animal figures were really misidentified. Finding this elaborate Buddhist image was quite cool, and if any readers could comment on the style of art, we would like to hear them – leave a comment below. For now, we have submitted a preliminary report of the finding to the Fine Arts Department of Thailand.

New Journal: Pratu – Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia

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Check out this new journal from Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS. The journal is calling for papers for the inaugural 2019 issue, see here.

Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia

Pratu: Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia is the initiative of a group of research students in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS University of London in collaboration with departmental mentors. The journal is funded by the Alphawood Foundation, under the auspices of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP). The student editorial group works closely with an advisory group formed of members of SAAAP’s Research & Publications Committee.

Pratu is conceived as a site for emerging scholars to publish new research on the ancient to premodern Buddhist and Hindu visual and material culture of Southeast Asia. The journal’s remit adheres to that of SAAAP itself, covering ‘study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage’.

Pratu means ‘gateway’ or ‘entrance’ in several Southeast Asian languages. The salience of the term for our project lies in its etymological development, where the application of Khmer morphology to Tai terminology to name architectural structures of Indic fame betrays the complexity of the historical evolution of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The journal is a gateway: a space of access and transition that reflects our aim to facilitate new scholars’ first experiences with academic publishing as they move from student to early career researcher status. This includes Southeast Asian scholars who would like to reach a wider readership by publishing in English translation and benefitting from the peer-review process. In this way Pratu offers greater exposure to scholars and new research, and furthers the development of inter-institutional and international collaboration.

Source: Pratu

Conference | Theravāda Buddhism in Khmer Lands

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For readers in Phnom Penh, a conference on Theravada Buddhism happening tomorrow (13 Feb 2018):

Theravāda Buddhism in Khmer Lands
with TUN Puthpiseth, PhD in Art History at the University Paris-Sorbonne, and Director of the Research Unit at the Royal University of Fine Arts
Tuesday 13 February 2018 at 6.30pm
Conference in French, translated in Khmer and English
Free entry subject to availability

Source: Conference | Theravāda Buddhism in Khmer Lands

See also:

Tracing the roots of Buddhism in Cambodia | Phnom Penh Post, 12 Feb 2018