Sacred Landscape of the Himalaya

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Niels Gutschof, Axel Michaels, Charles Ramble, Ernst Steinkellner, ed., 2003
Sacred Landscape of the Himalaya: Proceedings of an International Conference at Heidelberg 22–27 May, 1998. (Veröffentlichungen zur Sozialanthropologie 4.) Wien: VÖAW, 2003 (download [open access] or order online). (212 S.)
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Where the mountains can be gods it seems obvious to talk about the sacredness of landscape: The proceedings of an international seminar at Heidelberg in May 1998 present nine case studies covering the entire range of the Himalaya, from Ladakh and Garhwal in India, to Humla and Mustang in Nepal as well as Bhutan. The focus is on space-related architectural and/or anthropological analysis of the built environment and its location in landscape - a term that denotes the uniqueness and singularity of a certain place. The presented cases document how on various scales territories are identified with protective deities, a quality that need ritual renewal through processions and physical acts like colouring. Actions and perceptions allow the reader to understand landscape as a process rather than an essence of space.

Based on original fieldwork of seven architects, three anthropologists and one tibetologist carried out during the decade preceding the conference. The book for the first time presents Himalayan settlements with detailed maps of villages and architectural drawings of houses. The extensive visual presentation allows the reader to enter into the complex world of valleys that construct the mountains as the realm of the gods.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Axel Michaels: The sacredness of (Himalayan) landscapes
  • Marc Dujardin: Demolition and re-erection in contemporary Rukubji, Bhutan: Building as cyclical renewal and spatial mediation
  • Ada Gansach: Expressions of diversity: a comparative study of descriptions of village space in ritual processions in three villages of North West Nepal
  • John Harrison: Kings’ castles and sacred squares: the founding of Lo Monthang
  • Reinhard Herdick: The spatial order of the area of Yangthang and its affiliated monastery Ridzong in Ladakh
  • Amandus Vanquaille and Hilde Vets: Lamayuru: The symbolic architecture of light
  • Franz-Karl Ehrhard: Pilgrims in search of sacred lands
  • Kim Gutschow and Niels Gutschow: A landscape dissolved: Households, fields, and irrigation in Rinam, Northwest India
  • Niels Gutschow and Charles Ramble: Up and down, inside and outside: notions of space and territory in Tibetan villages of Mustang
  • William Sax: Divine kingdoms in the Central Himalayas
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