Keynote Address

Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya 2017
26-28 July, 2017 • Hotel Shanker, Lazimpat


Keynote Address

5 pm, 26 July 2017 (Wednesday)

Painting the Mythological History of Nepal
The Wall Paintings of the Tantric Shrine of Santipur at Svayambhu, and Their Origins, History and Fate

Alexander von Rospatt

While the Svayambhu caitya survived the 2015 earthquakes largely intact, the surrounding shrines, gompas, and residential buildings did not. Among the fatalities is the tantric shrine of Santipur, which is intimately connected to the sacred history of Svayambhu. Unbeknown to most visitors of Svayambhu, until the earthquake struck, Santipur’s walls were decorated with what likely was the largest and most ambitious narrative painting ever executed in the Nepalese Buddhist tradition. This talk introduces to these mural paintings and their faithful depiction of the Svayambhupurana; it relates it to other visual renderings of the Purana, discusses their origins and history, and in conclusion addresses the question of how the rescued remains of the murals (which are kept in the Chauni Museum) may serve to reconstitute the murals once Santipur has been rebuilt.

Alexander von Rospatt is professor for Buddhist and South Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in the doctrinal history of Indian Buddhism, and in Nepalese Buddhism. His first book sets forth the development and early history of the Buddhist doctrine of momentariness. Von Rospatt’s forthcoming book “The Svayambhu Caitya and its Renovations” complements numerous essays he has authored on various aspects of the Nepalese Buddhist tradition, including its narrative literature, and its rituals and their origins and evolution.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating is first-come-first-seated.