BUDDHIST ARCHITECTURE IN THE WESTERN HIMALAYAS
FWF RESEARCH PROJECT P22857


 

 

Map of the Western Himalaya

 

Research topic
The area of the Western Himalaya today covers parts of Pakistan, India, China/Tibet and Nepal. Since the beginning of the 10th century, with the rise of the kingdom of Guge, this region played an important role regarding the spread of Buddhism from India to Tibet. The monasteries acted as centres of the doctrine, in which the translation of texts of Mahayana Buddhism from Sanskrit into Tibetan and the development of Buddhist art laid the foundation for the Tibetan Buddhism. A number of monasteries and temples of this period has been preserved until today, partly in their original shape, partly strongly modified or nearly destroyed. The documentation, analysis and preservation of these buildings is the main goal of the project, which currently comprises collected data from over ten years of research. For a detailed description of the current project click here.

Field Work and analysis
The research work is based upon two major steps: The documentation of the buildings by means of
field work is the starting point and basis for the further processing. Sketches, pictures, analogue and digital measurements are taken on site focusing on site layout, building form and dimensions, construction, building material as well as damages on the buildings.
In a second step the collected material is processed on the basis of reports, 2D CAD drawings and 3D visualisations, which allow a fundamental scientific analysis of the buildings and their present condition. The intent of this work leads to the two major research goals: On the one hand the analytic aspect of the research aims at a holistic typology to understand the monuments and their complex details (form, size, structure, configuration, orientation, building techniques, wall-paintings, sculptures, iconography, inscriptions). A close cooperation of diverse disciplines is the foundation of this work.
On the other hand the architectural research forms the necessary basis for future repair, conservation and maintenance of the buildings, therefore an adequate methodology of monastic Buddhist buildings is the second goal of the project. Most of the monastic buildings in the Western Himalaya are in an ever deteriorating condition, thus the conservation methodology can be seen as the best guarantee for socio-cultural continuity and the preservation of this important cultural world heritage as a whole.

2D drawings and 3D visualisations