FWF - Dolpo - Buddhist Architecture in the Western Himalayas: Architectural Research in Dolpo/Nepal

Project: Research project

Description

Since 1999, various project teams at Graz University of Technology have conducted several research projects on Buddhist Architecture in the Western Himalayas. These projects focused on religious monuments that remain of the Kingdom of Purang-Guge (10th to 15th centuries) in Northern India and Western Tibet. The remarkable benefit of these projects was to establish a comprehensive building documentation. The total number of the surveyed monuments until now comprises 57 individual buildings at 18 different locations (www.archresearch.tugraz.at). This follow-on project will enable us to take the buildings of the wider Western Himalayan region into account, in particular the monuments of the later Guge kingdom in Dolpo (Western Nepal). The aim is to compile an accurate documentation of significant buildings, which will form the basis for an inventory, detailed building analysis and the study of connections within Buddhist architecture in Western Tibet, Northern India, and Nepal.
The surveyed buildings often display quite diverse architectural concepts of different periods. The final typology has to reflect the different periods as well as detailed and comprehensive interdisciplinary studies. When analysing each monument, special emphasis will lie on reconstructing the proportional systems. Which building rules underline the proportional principles of geometry and spatial relationships? Following the proportional principles found in earlier Hindu monuments in India we also have to ask ourselves whether their proportional system has been modified in accordance with specifically Buddhist conceptions of space and cosmos. A further element for consideration concerns the question of whether there is any proportional concordance between the architecture of a temple and its decoration, in particular the dimensions of the images, and the spatial division of the paintings.
What other aspects such as function, construction technique, form, size, orientation and artistic equipment will help us to clarify a comprehensive typology of the temples? Which buildings can we define as prototypes? Which religious texts provide building rules and how can these texts help us to determine characteristics and typologies? However, a temple or monastery is not a complete unit itself. It is part of a conception of religious space demarked by votive structures. Therefore, another important question is how the buildings are integrated in the natural environment. It will be impossible to answer all these questions without following the historical development of the monuments in form of historical-layer-plans since the buildings may have changed considerably over time.
Finally, in order to preserve this unique cultural heritage, the analysis will also focus on examining the present condition of the respective buildings. Based on the assessment, various methods of historic preservation will be worked out, which also take into account regional, social, and cultural circumstances.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/04/1831/03/21