Dr. Miriam Stark, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will give a series of talks at Duke, USC, and UCLA in the month of February. Her research broadly examines examines political and economic transformations in Southeast Asia, with foci on settlement structure and economy
For readers in Singapore, an upcoming lecture in ISEAS
Classical Javanese Figurative Sculpture: Examining ornament and style
Date: Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Time: 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm
Venue: ISEAS Seminar Room 2
About the Lecture
This lecture examines a corpus of free standing Hindu Buddhist figurative sculpture produced in Java in the 9th to 14th century period whose elaborate dress displays textiles with detailed patterns. This surviving body of sculpture, carved in stone in bas relief and cast in metal, varying in both size and condition, now stands in archaeological sites across Java, museums in Indonesia, and beyond. Situated a few degrees south of the equator, the humid climate of Java has ensured that textiles from this period have not survived in situ.
In considering supporting evidence from other regions of Asia, this lecture explores the origins of the medieval textiles depicted on these sculptures, and identifies the types of textiles being represented. It also provides some analysis of specific motifs, such as those on Saiva Buddha sculptures representing tantric iconography.
Additionally this lecture re-examines, through this corpus of sacred sculpture, the impact of the ‘Pāla Style’ from northeast India on the sculpture of Classical Java.
About the Speaker
Dr Lesley S Pullen, is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in art history at SOAS University of London. She was born in Medan, Sumatra and lived in Asia for thirty years. Dr Pullen arrived in London in 1997 and completed at SOAS a Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art, a Taught Masters and in 2017 a PhD. She is currently converting her doctoral thesis “Representation of Textiles on Classical Javanese Sculpture” into a monograph. Her work includes research into the textiles and ornament of India, Central Asia and China, and how these are reflected in Southeast Asian material art. She tutors and lectures on Southeast Asia art history courses at SOAS and the V&A Museum.
Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk by Dr Surat Lertlum on 18 January 2018:
Since 2005, Thai and Khmer scholars have conducted research utilizing multi-disciplinary approaches, including archaeology, anthropology, geo-informatics, geo-physics and information technology, with the continued and generous support of the Thailand Research Fund (TRF). At the outset, the study focused on the royal roads from Angkor. The work of the international team has benefited from the results of remote sensing surveys, which have significantly helped the systematic ground trusting conducted during several campaigns in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. The team, consisting of experts from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, subsequently expanded the scope of its study to identify the cultural relationships involving Mainland Southeast Asia, based on ancient communication networks. This presentation will be centered on the cross-border, multi-disciplinary research on ancient communication networks in Mainland Southeast Asia, aimed at identifying all the remaining sections of ancient roads and communication networks in the region. The discussion will extend to cities connected by ancient roads and trails, as well as waterways serving as communication networks, revealing physical evidence of cultures interconnected by a complex range of different communication systems and the common heritage that ensued from these ancient networks.
Readers in Singapore may be interested in the talk by Dr Kyle Latinis at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre later this week.
Date: 19 October 2017
Time: 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Venue:Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
The 2017 Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC) Archaeological Field School recently assisted APSARA Authority with rather incredible discoveries at the late 12th century Tonle Snguot hospital site located in the Angkor Park, Siem Reap, Cambodia. The discoveries included a 2.0 metre guardian statue (Dvarapala) and several rare Buddha statues – one of which may be a “Healing” or “Medicine” Buddha (Bhaisajyaguru).
The Tonle Snguot site is located outside the northern gate of the famed and massive Angkor Thom urban complex. Both Angkor Thom and Tonle Snguot are associated with King Jayavarman VII (1181-1218 CE), a Mahayana Buddhist who sanctioned the construction of 102 hospitals outside the city gates, along major roads, and at different urban sites throughout the kingdom. Our research purpose aimed to understand the nature of the hospital complex. Hospitals included both practical medicine and complementary spiritual healing. Additionally, it is probably no accident that a hospital is located just outside the main gates at Angkor Thom – possibly serving as checkpoints to assure healthy and sane people entered the city.
The Field School involved one week of excavations at the site to train East Asia Summit participants in basic field methods and research design. Other aspects of the Field School included site trips throughout Cambodia and Singapore to incorporate art history, history, historical ecology and several overlapping fields in order to emphasize archaeology’s multi-disciplinary nature. The participants finished their tour de force with mini research projects presented at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.
Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk by Dr Maurizio Peleggi of the National University of Singapore on October 7.
Museums in Southeast Asia: A Brief Cultural History
This talk explores the idea of the museum as a repository of knowledge and tool of nation-building in its global diffusion from Europe to the rest of the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum’s various typologies (art, history, natural museum) and statuses (national, colonial, postcolonial) are reviewed in relation to Singapore’s history and the museum boom of the past decade.
Dr Nicolas Revire is also giving a lecture at Yale-NUS on 9 October, 6 pm at the Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre
A public lecture by Dr Nicolas Revire at the Asian Civilisations Museum (Singapore) on 5 October at 7 pm.
Readers in Phnom Penh may be interested in this lecture by Dr Nicolas Revire at the Royal University of Fine Arts on 29 September 2017, at 5.30 pm. The lecture is in French.
The paradigm that Dvāravatī in pre-modern Thailand was predominantly “Buddhist” and the entity known
as Zhenla in 7th–8th-centuries Cambodia “Brahmanical” has long remained uncontested. In the past, the “Dvāravatī realm” has largely been described and associated with settlements in today’s western-central Thailand where “Buddhism” was significantly and increasingly practised during the second half of the first-millennium CE. Based on this literature, Dvāravatī has long been assumed by scholars as almost exclusively a Buddhist domain although there has been a hesitant shift in recent years to argue for Brahmanism alongside Buddhism. In contrast, “Brahmanism” has often been perceived to operate primarily in the eastern margins of this territory, closer to Khmer counterparts in Zhenla where there were presumably followers of Śiva and Viṣṇu as well as Harihara, a combination of both gods. In this lecture, however, I challenge this basic religious dichotomy. My reassessment of the material culture and inscriptions from these two neighbouring regions temper and question the compartmentalization of such doctrinal categories as either “Buddhist” or “Brahmanical” and instead emphasize on the complex nature of the religion of that age through the lens of the ideology of merit.
Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this talk at the Siam Society by Trongjai Hutangkura on 31 August 2017.
The Geography, written in the second century CE by Claudius Ptolemy (c. 100 ce- c. 170 ce), described the Earth’s geography through knowledge from Greco-Roman trade routes. The map India beyond the Ganges presented geographical information stretching from the river’s east bank towards China. Although previous studies provided place-names based on cognate comparisons between Ptolemaic data and recent toponyms, the identification of the Ptolemaic eastern limit remains problematic, exemplified by a location known to the ancient Romans as Kattigara, possibly Hangzhou (China) or Óc Eo (Vietnam). My research raises the possibility of Kattigara being located in the vicinity of the Korea Bay, based on a comparison of geographical landmarks such as the river’s mouth and cape. Other possibilities may involve Suvarṇabhūmi and a town called Zabai (Óc Eo). Though geographic recognition of Ptolemaic toponyms has since disappeared, their graphic information is still acknowledged and carries some influence in Southeast Asia, including in maps compiled by European and Arab cartographers in the 12th-16th centuries. These maps are a blend of Ptolemaic place-names and navigational information of their ages, visualising an imaginary continent of Southeast Asia. My presentation will illustrate research on the identification of cartographic information of Ptolemy’s India beyond the Ganges and Chinese lands as the basis for the study of ancient Southeast Asian maps.
Readers in Bangkok may be interested in this lecture at the Siam Society on 24 August 2017 by Anna Bennett.
In October 2014, a finely decorated Śunga ringstone was found by the owner of a sand quarry on the Tha Tapao River on the eastern side of Isthmus region of the Thai peninsula. The ringstone is a characteristic, almost defining object of the Mauryan – Śunga periods of Northern India, where possibly as many as 70 have been recorded from the Punjab, eastwards along the Ganges Valley to Bihar. A few ringstones are held in major museums outside India, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum in London, the Asian Art Museum in Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum. A few are also in private collections. The present example from Peninsular Thailand is the only one known to have been found outside the Indian subcontinent, thus providing yet more clear evidence for ancient contacts and trade between India and Thailand from the early centuries BCE, which long predated the establishment of the later Indian-influenced kingdoms in Southeast Asia. The function of these ringstones has never been clarified, although the author suggests that jewellery moulds remain a likely explanation for the extraordinary level of carved detail. Other suggestions have included that they were ear spools, although this seems improbable, on the practical grounds of their weight. Others have suggested a cult use or use as an apotropaic or physical contraceptive device due to the depiction of the nude mother goddess alternating with the ‘Tree of Life’. This ringstone was found at the same site as at least four very thin and fragmentary gold circular foils, which is the first occurrence of such an association, and lends weight to the hypothesis that the ringstones were perhaps, among other things, moulds for beating thin gold sheet ornaments. One of the gold sheets has an animal decorative motif which is very similar to that on the ringstone itself and the other has a repoussé design of interlinked ‘S’ motifs very similar to the only other known gold sheet, which was found in a burial context in India.