FWF - Early Buddhist Architect - Early Buddhist Architecture in the Western Himalaya (part 2)

  • Bauer, Dieter (Co-Investigator (CoI))
  • Wrumnig-Kluckner, Claudia Isabella (Co-Investigator (CoI))
  • Rössl, Martina (Co-Investigator (CoI))
  • Neuwirth, Holger (Principal Investigator (PI))

Project: Research project

Project Details


While the previous two projects focused on the documentation and the preparation of plans, the presently proposed project will focus on the publication of the collected material. The main goal is to develop a typology of the early Buddhist sacred architecture in the Western Himalayas from the 10th to the 14th century. Considering the present material, the study will emphasise on the monuments in the regions of Ladakh and Lahaul-Spiti, but will also take the wider western Himalayan region and the regional architectural successors, in particular the monuments of the later Guge kingdom, into account. Next to the general architectural typology the study will consider more detailed aspects such as form, size, construction technique, configuration of spaces and orientation. In addition to working out the different types of the single structures themselves, the study will also consider the topographic environment and principal function of the building. Major types in this regard are monastic complexes located in the plain of the valley, cave monuments, village temples and temples and monasteries in the location of fortresses. The final typology will be based on detailed and comprehensive interdisciplinary studies of key monuments and complexes in the form of monographs, of which the first is already under preparation. When analysing the monuments special emphasis will be put on the exploration of the proportional systems used and their underlying principles. Considering the cultural and historical context of the earliest monuments under consideration, it is to be expected that they are based on underlying (North-) Indian proportional principles of geometries and spatial relationships (compare the proportional systems used for the Tabo clay sculptures in Luczanits 2004), which can be compared to those used in European sacral mediaeval architecture. An important element to be considered is, whether these Buddhist buildings follow the proportional principles found with earlier and contemporary Hindu monuments in India, or whether their proportional system has been modified in accordance with specifically Buddhist conceptions of space and cosmos (see e.g. Bafna 2000 or Meister 1979). A further element for consideration will be whether there is any proportional concordance between the architecture of a temple and its decoration, in particular the dimensions of the images and the spatial division of the paintings. The suggested analyses cannot be done without following the historical development of a monument or complex in form of historical-layer-plans since the buildings may have changed considerably over time. Both the state of the building at a given historic period and the proportional system underlying the building will be reconstructed and shown in the form of three-dimensional models. Finally, to contribute to the preservation of this extremley valuable cultural heritage, the analysis will also focus on the assessment and presentation of a buildings present condition. Based on the assessment, various methods of historic preservation will be worked out that also take the regional social, cultural and religious circumstances into account.
Effective start/end date1/01/1131/12/13


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