TAASA Review Issues

September 2023

Vol: 32 Issue: 3
Editor: Josefa Green

Cover Photo
Kani weaving, Srinagar, Kashmir, March 2023. Photo: Courtesy Christina Sumner. See pp21 – 22 in this issue.

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Editorial

As a follow up to Sacred Sites of Asia, TAASA’s popular Monday night lecture series this year, the September TAASA Review is pleased to offer four articles which expand on some of the topics presented.

Many readers will be familiar with the famous Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku) at the Buddhist temple Rokuonji in Kyoto, but perhaps less aware that this pavilion was part of a very large complex. ‘Kitayama-dono’ constituted a sprawling temple-palace complex built by the warrior-aristocrat Ashikaga Yoshimitsu on his retirement in the early 1400s. As Mathew Stavros recounts in his article, the location and layout of Kitayama’s grounds can now be reconstructed with some precision through his own detective work using old survey documents, current local place names and other textual and archaeological records.

John Miksic’s article on the great Mahayana Buddhist site of Borobudur in Java, Indonesia focuses mainly on identifying the sources for the spectacular reliefs which curve in galleries around this mountain monument. He describes how these reliefs provide detailed illustrations of six Sanskrit texts about Buddhism, only identified by scholars over time in the 19th and 20th centuries.

A less well known group of temples is presented in Richard Barz’s article on the Hindu yoginī temples of central and south India. These were dedicated to a class of demigoddesses whose worship is the subject of some of the tantra scriptures. Only seven of at least 15 temples have survived, unique because they are roofless and mainly round in structure. Richard points out that the three yogin? temples he discusses are outstanding as structures, as art and as witnesses to a fascinating but little-known ancient variety of Hinduism – and they deserve to be much more widely appreciated.

The final article in this issue based on the TAASA lecture series is Charlotte Galloway’s evocative description of the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar: its history, structure, religious and political significance. Unlike many of the other sites in the lecture series, this is a living and vibrant sacred site busy with worshippers at all times of the day. And while it has often served as a focal point for political protest, the Shwedagon remains an enduring sacred presence, where, as Charlotte puts it, devotees will continue to visit for prayer and meditation, make offerings, and keep the structure in good repair.

Continuing the theme of sacred sites, Lucie Folan’s article on Jain pilgrimage traditions in India is also concerned with living, active sacred sites. Pilgrimages to the five mountains now known as the premier pilgrimage sites for ?vet?mbara M?rtip?jaks Jainism, one branch of the Jain religion mainly in northwest India, is traditionally a way for Jains to express their religious devotion but many devotees are unable to physically undertake such journeys. Lucie’s article explores the innovative role of art and architecture – such as fixed or portable architectural structures, shrines, models, or two-dimensional images – in providing surrogate ways in which all members of the communities can access such sacred sites.

The remaining articles in this issue cover a range of other topics. Still in Southern Asia, Christina Sumner shares her experiences of a recent trip to Kashmir, a journey which unsurprisingly focused on the varied and remarkable textile traditions to be found there and in other parts of India that she visited. Textiles, too, are discussed by Margaret White in her article on meisen, a new type of silk fabric which defined modern Japanese kimono dress style in the first half of the 20thc. She recounts her own ‘hands-on’ experience in creating meisen fabric at a workshop in Chichibu where a display of meisen kimono can be found in its small museum.

The final article brings to our attention the rich repository of art in a range of media held by Artbank, a government agency which has accumulated a comprehensive collection of approximately 11,000 art works in Australia available for rental, the only one of its kind in the world. Courtney Kidd presents some of the notable works in this collection from Asian Australian artists.

Rounding off this issue are three book reviews covering publications which will appeal to many TAASA members. Matt Cox reviews the National Gallery of Singapore’s Living Pictures: Photography in South Asia, a catalogue of its exhibition of the same name. Peter Hobbins reviews Natali Pearson’s Belitung: The Afterlives of a Shipwreck and Melanie Eastburn presents The Angkorian World, an exceptional cross-disciplinary resource by 52 leading experts in the field.

Table of contents

3   EDITORIAL – Josefa Green

4   KITAYAMA: BEYOND THE GOLDEN PAVILION – Matthew Stavros

7   BOROBUDUR’S RELIEFS: DEPICTING SANSKRIT BUDDHIST TEXTS – John Miksic

10. FEMININE POWER AND MASCULINE DESIRE: THE YOGINĪ TEMPLES OF INDIA – Richard Barz

12  MYANMAR’S SHWEDAGON PAGODA – Charlotte Galloway

14  JAIN SACRED SITES AND SYMBOLIC PILGRIMAGE TRADITIONS – Lucie Folan

17  MEISEN SILK: A CANVAS FOR THE MODERN KIMONO – Margaret White

19  ARTBANK’s ASIAN AUSTRALIAN ARTIST COLLECTION – Courtney Kidd

21  TRAVELLER’S CHOICE: KASHMIR – Christina Sumner

23  BOOK REVIEW: LIVING PICTURES: PHOTOGRAPHY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA – Matt Cox

24  BOOK REVIEW: BELITUNG: THE AFTERLIVES OF A SHIPWRECK – Peter Hobbins

25  BOOK REVIEW: THE ANGKORIAN WORLD – Melanie Eastburn

26  TAASA COMMITTEE PROFILES: ELLY KENT AND JING HAN

27  RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES

29  TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY: SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER 2023

30  WHAT’S ON: SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER 2023

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