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Dissertation Abstracts

The Country of the Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand Mountains: Archaeological study of the Karnali basin (Nepal) between the twelfth and sixteenth century

David Cornélius Andolfatto
p. 86-87
Bibliographical reference

The Country of the Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand Mountains: Archaeological study of the Karnali basin (Nepal) between the twelfth and sixteenth century

Author's notes

Disciplines: ethno-archæology, art history
Institution: Sorbonne Université, Faculté des Lettres, Paris, France
Date: 23 December 2019
Supervision: Edith Parlier-Renault and Marie Lecomte-Tilouine

Full text

1This research aims to study the medieval cultural context of western Nepal between the 12th and 16th century. The study is based on a careful analysis of the archaeological documentation gathered by the author and on historical and ethnographic sources. Between the 12th and 14th century, the Karnali River Basin was at the centre of an important political entity: the Khaśa Malla empire. From this empire would subsequently emerge a multitude of small independent kingdoms. Due to its geographical location on a communication corridor between the Indo-Gangetic plain and the western part of the Tibetan plateau, the region lies at the crossroad of cultures. The study proposes to question the latter by observing the modalities of expressions of power and religion through examining unpublished and largely overlooked archæological data.

2A first historiographical part reviews the terminologies of Khaśa and Khaśa Malla and the historical data available for the study of the region. The question of the origins of the Khaśa Malla dynasty remained an open debate for more than half a century. The theory followed here, with new documents and perspectives to justify it, is that the so-called Khaśa Malla emperors were of Tibetan origin.

3In the second part, the research lays the basis for a relative chronology of the artistic and architectural heritage. Indeed, up until now, evaluating the age of temples (deval), memorial stone pillars, reservoirs and fountains involved pure guesswork and led to attributing it to the imperial period (twelfth–fourteenth century), which is considered a ‘golden age’. This new chronology is further brought together in the dynastic history of the region and in the central Himalayan context. One key assessment is that the collapse of the Khaśa Malla empire did not signify the end of arts and architecture in the region.

4The third part proposes three relatively independent studies of different aspects of the region’s medieval period. In the first one, the architectural organisation of two sites, identified as the capitals of the Khaśa Malla Empire, Sinja and Dullu, is studied. A second case study analyses a hitherto ignored group of bas-reliefs representing mediums during their oracular trances. This identification is rendered possible by an ethno-archæological approach and brings to light the earliest known representations of oracular cults for the Karnali Basin (fourteenth–fifteenth century) and probably the central Himalayas. The third case study concerns a corpus of metal sculptures that are said to date back to the Khaśa Malla empire. Their style and epigraphic details are contextualised in the broader central Himalayan context and reveal an exogenous art of the Buddhist elite (of exogenous origins), which are different from the artistic idioms encountered on the field, in the Karnali river basin.

5The thesis comprises three volumes divided into Vol. 1: Text, Vol. 2: Illustrations and Vol. 3: Inventory of sites, maps and plates.

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References

Bibliographical reference

David Cornélius Andolfatto, « The Country of the Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand Mountains: Archaeological study of the Karnali basin (Nepal) between the twelfth and sixteenth century », European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, 54 | 2020, 86-87.

Electronic reference

David Cornélius Andolfatto, « The Country of the Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand Mountains: Archaeological study of the Karnali basin (Nepal) between the twelfth and sixteenth century », European Bulletin of Himalayan Research [Online], 54 | 2020, Online since 15 March 2022, connection on 04 July 2022. URL : http://preo.u-bourgogne.fr/ebhr/index.php?id=306

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About the author

David Cornélius Andolfatto

David Cornélius Andolfatto is an affiliated researcher at the Centre de Recherche sur l’Extrême-Orient de Paris-Sorbonne (CREOPS). He is currently editing the French text of his PhD thesis and is looking forward to publishing it in English.

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus de la revue European Bulletin of Himalayan Research sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

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