A new book series reflecting the focus of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS University of London, namely the study of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture from ancient to pre-modern times, including 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 studies.
via Aju Business Daily, 06 Mar 2019: Yoni discovered in Vat Phu by a team from South Korea.
South Korean archaeologists have discovered a gold and bronze religious relic called “Yoni” during an excavation at a ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern Laos that would become an important element in studying the history of ancient Khmer exchanges.
The relic in the form of pedestal was 63mm in height and 110mm in width, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said Wednesday in a statement. Its material was bronze with the outer surface gold-plated. There are five small holes with a diameter of 3.5 mm on the top with a water spout running along the side, the state body said.
It is presumed to be a religious relic related to Sadha Linga, and Laotian archaeologists confirmed that it was the first discovery of such a relic in the Southeast Asian country, according to the administration.
Project Hindu dham in Cambodia is not just misinformed: it is a regressive step in the history of India-Southeast Asia relations that could start a dangerous chain of religious disharmony and unrest.
The chief rationale for this project appears to be the grand Vaishnava temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Five hundred acres of land has been acquired and 1,008 Shivalingas established to mark the creation of a fifth dham for Hindus. The project is evidently well-funded. Its chief proponents perceive this enterprise as a ‘cultural investment’, an apt way to promote Hinduism beyond India, to revitalise historical links between South and Southeast Asian nations, and to encourage trans-Asian pilgrim networks.
Old Kedah, or Kedah Tua in Malay, and the archaeological findings of the Bujang Valley in northern Peninsular Malaysia were the focus of a local festival held last month. The events included an international conference, and from the news reports two themes seem apparent: the disagreement on whether the ruins of the Bujang Valley represent an animist or Hindu-Buddhist tradition, and the news that the remains of the Hindu temples that have previously been uncovered in the valley will not be nominated and protected under Unesco World Heritage. There’s a lot of subtext to read between the news reports, but it seems there is an attempt to downplay the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Bujang Valley sites.
Brahmins have been serving in the Thai royal court as officials and performing royal ceremonies since the Ayutthaya period. The involvement of Brahmins continued to the Rattanakosin period. During the reign of King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), due to the government’s budgeting reasons, many officials were laid off. Some Brahmins were affected. They returned to their native provinces to take up other professions. Back then, they were not allowed to performed rituals for commoners.
A great change came during the start of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign. By royal decree, Brahmins were allowed to conduct ceremonies for the people. Families of Brahmins who relocated during King Rama VII’s reign could now revert to their old profession.
The centre of Brahmin activity in Thailand is at Devasathan, a Hindu temple in Bangkok’s inner city, which was built more than 200 years ago.
In Thailand, Komkrit said there are three types of Brahmins. One is brahm luang or royal Brahmins who mainly perform royal ceremonies like the annual ploughing ceremony. They come from a long family line of Brahmins in Thailand. The recent reopening of the Erawan Shrine was also presided over by the chief of Brahmins from the Devasathan.
To celebrate the 60th birthday of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Fine Arts Department is hosting a special exhibition, “Feminine Deities: Buddhism, Hinduism And Indigenous Cults In Thailand”, at the National Museum Bangkok. The objective is to disseminate knowledge about faith and beliefs relating to women in Thailand through the ages via religious sculptures.
The exhibition is divided into four parts — Goddesses: Traditional Beliefs From The Past; Goddesses In Brahmanism-Hinduism: The Supreme Power Of Females; Female Deities In Buddhism: The Power Of Intellect; and Goddesses In Traditional Beliefs: The Power Of Nature.
The first section shows that people have believed in the existence of goddesses since prehistoric times. Goddesses are believed to have supernatural powers, which allow them to control aspects of nature. Accordingly, people believe that they can indirectly influence nature by worshipping goddesses. The Mother Goddess or Earth Goddess is believed to be responsible for the fertility of women and their natural mothering instincts. Sculptures of women produced by ancient civilisations in Europe, Asia, America and Africa provide evidence of the widespread belief in the power of goddesses and the high status of women at that time. Their most notable features are their large hips (signifying the ability to give birth) and breasts (signifying the ability to nurture). Even in the present day, goddesses are still widely worshipped by followers of certain religions.
Applications are now open for the Alphawood Scholarships in Southeast Asian Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London for the 2015-16 academic year. This is a great opportunity for young Southeast Asian scholars interested in a postgraduate education for the advancement of Hindu and Buddhist art.