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VA 3009 – In Situ: architecture, sculpture and painting in the Western Himalayas

Course Description: 

This course is an introduction to the architecture, sculpture and paintings of Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Western Himalayas, with a focus on extant sites in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. Students will study major sites of art historical and cultural importance, while tracing their roots and interconnections to developments in art, religion, iconography and aesthetics in Kashmir, Bihar, Tibet and Nepal. 

The course focuses on studying monasteries and temples through their geographical location, their usage, and changes in structure and style in response to religious and socio-political developments. The artistic strategies employed, the material used in making paintings and sculptures will be explored in relation to their architectonic contexts as well as the ritual requirements of different schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Students will be familiarized with artistic styles from the late 9th century onwards and the major iconographic programmes and deities of the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon.

Learning Objectives: 

By the end of this course, students:

  • Will be conversant with major Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. 
  • Will have the ability to ‘read’ sites as architectonic spaces, and study the architecture, sculptures and paintings in relation to their usage.
  • Will be able to identify major deities of the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon and identify stylistic features of early Tibetan Buddhist art.
  • Will be familiar with developments in the art of the region in conjunction with changes in religion and socio-political contexts of patronage.
  • Will be able to write concise art historical notes in the nature of museum catalogue entries. 

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka