A Blessing for the Land: The Architecture Art and History of a Buddhist Convent in Mustang Nepal
Author: John Harrison, Christian Luczanits, Charles Ramble, Nyima Drandul
In Nepal’s Mustang District, on the right bank of the Kali Gandaki river facing the large settlement of Tshug (Chusang), is a low hill known as Gönpa Gang, the “convent ridge.” Standing on the ridge are the remains of a Buddhist site, Künzang Chöling. Until recently, nothing was known about the building beyond the fact that it had once been a nunnery, and it is hard now to imagine that a local ruler in the 17th century, awed by its majestic proportions and its exquisite paintings, exclaimed that it was “the jewel in the crown of the realm.” This book brings to light a forgotten gem of Nepal’s architectural and artistic heritage, while the archives of the community offer a window onto the lives of the lama who built it “as a blessing for the land,” and of the nuns for whom it was a centre of spiritual activity for almost three centuries.
About the Authors:
JOHN HARRISON is a British architect who has been travelling in the Himalaya since 1985, documenting and restoring historic buildings in Ladakh (India), Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet. He has been an associate of the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and is a research fellow at Liverpool School of Architecture. He is currently writing a book on the architecture of Mustang, which he has been documenting since 1993.
CHRISTIAN LUCZANITS ’s research focuses on the Buddhist art of India and Tibet. He has published extensively on Gandharan, Western Himalayan and early Tibetan art and curated a number of exhibitions. Before joining SOAS as the David L. Snellgrove Senior
Lecturer in Tibetan and Buddhist Art, he taught at the University of Vienna, UC Berkeley, the Free University in Berlin, UC Santa Barbara, and Stanford University.
CHARLES RAMBLE is Directeur d’études (Professor of Tibetan History and Philology) at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, PSL Research University, Paris, and a member of the East Asian Civilisations Research Centre (CRCAO , UMR 8155). From 2000 to 2010 he was the Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at the University of Oxford. His publications cover the fields of Tibetan social history, the Bon religion, biographical writing, and Tibetan ritual literature and performance.
NYIMA DRANDUL is a native of southern Mustang and a member of the illustrious family to which the founder of Künzang Chöling belonged. He worked for the Nepal-German Project on High Mountain Archaeology (1992–1997), and since then has taken part in several research programmes, including the Franco-German project Social Status in the Tibetan World (2016–2020), of which he is currently a member. He has collaborated with Charles Ramble on four books and several articles on the history and culture of Mustang.