Surrounding the Sacred Space: Two painted Scrolls from the Collection of Namgyal Monastery in Mustang, Nepal

Chiara Bellini

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The Collection of Namgyal Monastery (Mustang, Nepal) preserves two long and narrow scrolls painted on both sides, of exquisite artistic quality. This article describes and investigates the iconographic and symbolic meaning of the paintings and the use of these objects. One of the scrolls shows the Eight Auspicious Symbols and deities that personify diverse group of offerings painted in an elegant Newari style. The other scroll features an intriguing representation of the Eight Charnel Grounds in a continuous landscape. Full of delicate and charming details, it illustrates the Mahasiddhas, Guardians, Nagas and stupa of the respective directions. The back of both scrolls has a vajra chain at the bottom and flames represented above it. The scrolls must have been used to encircle specific mandalas. Such objects are rather rare, and it is interesting to reflect on their former use, even more so as no contemporaneous objects of that type are known. The stylistic features of the paintings reveal the broader relationships of the Mustang region to neighbouring areas. Relationships can also be established to objects preserved in the same collection, such as a collection of metal stupa of similar design and typical for the Mustang region and the western Himalayas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-678
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


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