Paper: Seafaring Archaeology of the East Coast of India and Southeast Asia during the Early Historical Period

A new Open Access paper published in Ancient Asia:

The concept of trade in ancient India was quite different from modern times. In olden day’s mariners, artisans, traders, Buddhist monks and religious leaders used to set sail together and this trend continued till the advent of modern shipping. The representation of art on the walls of the caves, stupas and temples enlighten us regarding their joint ventures, experiences and problems faced during the sea voyages. The finding of varieties of pottery, punch marked and Roman coins, Brahmi and Kharoshti inscriptions along the ports, trade centres and Buddhist settlements suggest the role played by them in maritime trade during the early historical period and later. Mariners of India were aware of the monsoon wind and currents for more than two thousand years if not earlier. Furthermore, the study shows that the maritime contact with Southeast Asian countries was seasonal and no changes of Southwest and Northeast monsoon have been noticed since then. This paper details the types of pottery, beads, cargo found at ports, trade routes and Buddhist settlements along the east coast of India and the role of monsoons in maritime trade. The impact of Buddhism on trade and society of the region are also discussed.

Source: Seafaring Archaeology of the East Coast of India and Southeast Asia during the Early Historical Period (doi:10.5334/aa.118

NSC-ISEAS Visiting Fellowship in Buddhist Studies

Visiting Fellowship position open in Singapore focusing on Buddhist archaeology in Southeast Asia. Deadline is 31 March 2016.

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Visiting Fellowship at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

The Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC) of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) in Singapore pursues research on historical interactions among Asian societies and civilizations prior to the 17th century. NSC is now accepting applications for Visiting Fellowship positions from scholars at all ranks who wish to undertake research and writing under the following themes:

1. Buddhist History in Southeast Asia
2. Buddhist Links and Networks between Southeast Asia and other Asian countries
3. Buddhist Archaeology, Material Culture and Art in Southeast Asia

The Visiting Fellowship will be for one year, with a possibility of extension. Post-doctoral applicants are also welcome but should have graduated with a PhD no longer than three years prior to their successful appointment at NSC.

Commencement date will be from June 2016.
More details here.

Buddhist antiques on display in Da Nang

Hundreds of artefacts that have been stored in a temple in Da Nang will go on display in Vietnam’s first Buddhist culture museum.

The abbot of Quan The Am Temple showing off one of the Buddha statues on display. Source: Viet Nam News 20151214
The abbot of Quan The Am Temple showing off one of the Buddha statues on display. Source: Viet Nam News 20151214

Buddhist antiques displayed in Da Nang
Viet Nam News, 14 December 2015

Antique statues on display in Vietnam’s first Buddhist culture museum
Thanh Nien News, 15 December 2015

Hundreds of Buddhist antiques which have been stored in a temple in Da Nang City for many years will be exhibited to the public on December 24 for the first time.

The municipal People’s Committee decided to establish the Buddhist Cultural Museum as a place to display the antiques in the Quan The Am Temple, Ngu Hanh Son District, by the end of 2014. This is the first Buddhist Culture Museum in Viet Nam.

Huynh Dinh Quoc Thien, deputy director of the Da Nang Museum, said they accidentally discovered a “treasure-house” of about 500 objects, with more than 200 antiques which were assessed at the Quan The Am Temple.

“We sent experts to study this large number of antiques with assistance from the temple’s monks,” said Thien.

Full stories here. and here.

Borobudur to be marketed as a Buddhist pilgrimage site

Am Indonesian Minister has said that he wants to turn the 7th century Javanese monument into a Buddhist pilgrimage site.

Borobudur. Source: Tempo 20151004
Borobudur. Source: Tempo 20151004

Borobudur Planned to be Mecca for Buddhists
Tempo, 04 October 2015

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli said that he would make the Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, to become the main tour destination for Buddhists from around the world.

“We want Borobudur to become the Mecca for Buddhists. Just like Muslims, they always want to go on hajj pilgrimage before they die,” Rizal said when opening an event called Tribute to Batik in Jakarta on Saturday, October 3, 2015.

Rizal, who was the former coordinating economic minister during President Abdurrahman Wahid’s era, claimed that the Borobudur temple was more beautiful than the Angkor Vat in Cambodia. Therefore, Rizal said that the Borobudur Temple must become a religious tour destination for Buddhists.

Full story here.

The sacred feminine in Thailand

The National Museum in Bangkok is having a special exhibition featuring female deities from various religions in Thailand: Buddhism, Hinduism and indigenous cults.

Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527
Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527

The feminine divine
Bangkok Post, 27 May 2015

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.

Full story here.

Exhibition of Myanmar art opens next month

Another story on the upcoming exhibition at the Asia Society in New York, featuring the Buddhist art of Myanmar.

Sandstone Pagan period Buddha. Source: DVB 20150118
Sandstone Pagan period Buddha. Source: DVB 20150118

Burmese Buddhist art premieres in New York
DVB, 18 January 2015
Continue reading “Exhibition of Myanmar art opens next month”

Ayutthaya bicycle tour to temples and Buddhist life

A new bicycle tour offered in Ayutthaya province aims to introduce riders to the temples of the area as well as Buddhism.

Ayutthaya promotes bicycle tour to nine temples
National News Bureau of Thailand, 28 December 2014
Continue reading “Ayutthaya bicycle tour to temples and Buddhist life”

Training monks to take care of heritage in temples

A large number of Thai cultural heritage is kept in Buddhist temples, so it makes sense for the Thai Fine Arts Department to conduct training for Buddhist monks.

Buddhist monks taught to handle national religious heritage
National News Bureau of Thailand, 22 December 2014
Continue reading “Training monks to take care of heritage in temples”

SOAS Alphawood Scholarships 2015/16

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.

Borobudur Sunrise

The SOAS 2015/2016 Alphawood Scholarships
Deadline: 18 December 2014
Continue reading “SOAS Alphawood Scholarships 2015/16”

Public Lecture: Buddhism and religious practices in Burma and Thailand

Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk at the Asian Civilisations Museum by Dr Alexandra Green.

Power and Protection: Buddhism and religious practices in Burma and Thailand
Alexandra Green, British Museum
Date: 05 August 2014
Time: 1900 hrs
Venue: Ngee Ann Auditorium, Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore

Power and Protection by Alexandra Green
Power and Protection by Alexandra Green