From Vairocana to Aksobhya: The Early Development of Alchi Monastery, Ladakh

Christian Luczanits, Visiting Professor, Department of Religious Studies,Stanford University

An interdisciplinary architectural, art-historical and historical analysis of the early buildings within the monastic complex (chos 'khor) of the famous monastery of Alchi, Ladakh, is highly informative in many respects. In terms of architecture, it not only reveals the gradual evolution of the complex and the historical relationship between the different buildings, but also uncovers entirely new building types that have either fallen into disuse or have later changed. In terms of art, a development cannot be extracted so easily, because each of the monuments serves a different purpose and emphasizes a different topic. Nevertheless, an overall reading demonstrates that the oscillation between favoring Buddha Vairocana or Buddha Aksobhya places Alchi at the threshold of a new era of Tibetan Buddhism, which is reemphasized by the depiction of 'Jig rten gsum mgon (1143-1217), the founder of the 'Bri gung pa school, in some of the monuments. This and other topics further link Alchi to the general development of Tibetan Buddhist art.

Thursday, January 21, 2010 | 5:15 pm — 7:00 pm
Encina Hall West - Room 208

Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford