Archeology and History of the Silk Road

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Out of this world: Buddhist statue made from meteorite

From: World Archeology

A 1,000-year-old Buddhist statue taken from Tibet by Nazi scientists is the first-known carving of a human figure made from a meteorite, newly-published research says.
With stylistic links to the 11th century Bön culture, the sculpture is thought to depict the Buddhist god Vaisravana.
Despite measuring just 24cm in height, the object weighs 10kg (22lb). Now geochemical analysis by the University of Stuttgart, published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science, has revealed that the artefact is made of ataxite, a rare class of iron meteorite with a high nickel content.
‘The statue is the only known illustration of a human figure to be carved into a meteorite,’ said project-leader Dr Elmar Buchner, from the university’s Institute of Planetology. ’It was chiseled from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15,000 years ago.’
He told CWA: ‘Stylistically, it is not absolutely typical for Buddhist or pre-Buddhist art, but during the 11th century there was a style of religious art in the Himalayan area, that can be described as a hybrid style between the two. It was called Bön culture, and this figure is typical of that style.
There are similar figurative illustrations of gods – and also of local dignitaries – from the 11th century, made from wood, stone or other material – but not of a meteorite!’
Called the ‘Iron Man’, the statue was brought to Germany by an SS-backed expedition investigating the origins of Aryanism in Tibet in 1938-1939. It is not known exactly how or where the statue was found, but the large swastika carved into the centre of the figure – an ancient symbol representing good fortune – may have encouraged the team to take it with them. After decades in a private collection, the artefact became available for study following an auction in 2009.
Meteorites have inspired veneration in a number of cultures, from Inuits in Greenland to the aboriginal peoples of Australia. The Black Stone in the Kaaba (the building circled by Muslim pilgrims during the Hajj) at Mecca is also believed to be a stony meteorite.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Potala Palace hides sacred treasures

CCTV.com
09-26-2012 09:28 BJT

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By CCTV reporter Stanley Lee
There is no better place to find pattra-leaf scriptures than at the Potala palace in Tibet. The palace holds the largest collection of the "Beiyejing". So let’s venture into its inner sanctum for a look at the hidden treasures.
Layer upon layer of protection, finally we are about to get a glimpse of the ancient treasure locked away here.
All of the Scriptures written on pattra leaves are carefully preserved on these wooden shelves.
Puncog Tseten is an expert in "Beiyejing". He gently unfolds the multiple layers of wrapping and reveals to us the "Beiyejing" that’s at least 12 hundred years old, all 200 pages of them.
Phuntshogs Tseten, Artefact expert, said,"Here you can see holes on the side, we used strings to link them together so that they won’t scatter all over the place"
Tseten also says the paintings on the "Beiyejing" is about the Budda. There are also commentaries and stories about famous Buddist figures. It’s remarkable how the paintings and text have retained its sharpness after more than a millennia.
However the artefacts are need of being organized and classified as time has brought confusion on their order.
Phuntshogs Tseten said,"These page numbers are in Sanskrit, and these are in Tibetan. They are a bit misleading as they were written down later, usually we look at the Sanskrit numbers. "
The organizing project took a couple of years, every piece was extracted and carefully examined and catalogued. The experts also made photo copies of all of them so that the treasures will be available to researchers and academics.
There is no better place to find pattra-leaf scriptures than at the Potala palace in Tibet. The palace holds the largest collection of the "Beiyejing".
There is no better place to find pattra-leaf scriptures than at the Potala palace in Tibet. The palace holds the largest collection of the "Beiyejing".
There is no better place to find pattra-leaf scriptures than at the Potala palace in Tibet. The palace holds the largest collection of the "Beiyejing".
Potala Palace
Potala Palace


Norwegian professor studies" Beiyejing"

09-26-2012 09:58 BJT

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The pattra-leaf scriptures have recorded not only the scriptures of Buddhism but also philosophy, history, calendars, literature, art, science and so on. Therefore, studying the pattra-leaf scriptures demands a lot from a scholar. Now we head to Oslo, the capital of Norway, to meet an expert on "Beiyejing".
Professor Jens Erland Braarvig has dedicated his life to the study of the pattra-leaf scriptures. His main focus also includes languages, which helps him a lot in studying the pattra-leaf scriptures.
From the 2nd century to 8th century, many pattra-leaf scriptures were transported to countries in Central Asia from India on the ancient Silk Road. Professor Braarvig mainly studies those discovered in Afghanistan.
Professor Braarvig and his study team collected these pieces of "Beiyejing", scanned them into computers, categorized them, and then found their Sanskrit, Tibetan or Chinese version.
Professor Braarvig hopes that his team can cooperate with Chinese experts to study the pattra-leaf scriptures in the future, which he believes will help more people understand the history of Buddhism as well as the influence Buddhism has had on politics, language and culture.
Professor Jens Erland Braarvig

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Weatherwatch: Climate helped Genghis Khan create the Mongol empire


Genghis Khan leading the Mongol conquest of China
Lush grasslands helped Genghis Khan fuel his armies in their conquest of Asia and parts of Europe. Photograph: North Wind Picture Archives /Alamy
The Mongol empire in the 13th century conquered great swaths of Asia, the Middle East and even parts of Europe at staggering speed, but how did Genghis Khan and his armies manage to conquer so much and so fast? The answer may lie in some ancient dead trees found recently in an old volcanic lava flow in Mongolia. The trees were so well preserved that their annual growth rings were still visible and gave an astonishing insight into the climate of the 1200s. The wood rings were spaced wide apart showing that the trees grew well, thanks to plenty of rain. And because the trees did well, the chances are that the grasslands of the vast Mongolian plains also grew lush in the wet climate. Those rich grasslands would have fuelled the Mongol armies, giving plenty of grazing land for the thousands of horses that the troops relied on, and livestock to feed the soldiers.
But the tree rings also showed a sudden lurch into much colder, drier conditions around 1258, when the trees hardly grew. This was around the time the Mongol empire began to fall apart and the Mongols moved their capital into what is now Beijing. It was part of a global climate event, and a recent archaeological dig in London revealed that a catastrophicfamine struck England at the same time, leading to thousands of deaths. The downturn in climate was caused by a massive volcanic eruption that blanketed the globe in ash and cut down sunlight across the world.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Ancient site needs saving not destroying


By Brent Huffman, Special for CNN
September 24, 2012 -- Updated 0900 GMT (1700 HKT)

A Buddhist statue overlooks a Chinese government-owned mining compound in Logar province, Afghanistan. Mes Aynak, a 2,600-year-old Buddhist site, could be destroyed in December to create a massive copper mine.A Buddhist statue overlooks a Chinese government-owned mining compound in Logar province, Afghanistan. Mes Aynak, a 2,600-year-old Buddhist site, could be destroyed in December to create a massive copper mine.
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Mining operation threatens Buddhist icons
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Huffman says the ancient site will be destroyed by plans to mine the area
  • A Chinese company has permission to create a massive open-pit style copper mine
  • Huffman: Mes Aynak is missing link showing Afghanistan's historic role in Asia
  • He says destroying Mes Aynak is equivalent to wiping Machu Picchu off the map
Editor's note: Brent Huffman is a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He started making a film about the Mes Aynak site in the summer of 2011 thinking he would be documenting the site before it was demolished and recording the process of rescue archeology. Now he hopes he can use his film to raise awareness to actually save Mes Aynak.
(CNN) -- Please bear with me as I ask you to briefly use your imagination. Close your eyes. Imagine Machu Picchu at dawn cloaked in fog. Now imagine the fog slowly lifting to reveal an enormous ancient city perched on the edge of a mountain.
Picture a sense of mystery being immersed in thousands of years of history as you walk between antiquated hewn stone structures. There is tranquility in the wind-blown stillness of the primeval site. You feel a renewed sense of kinship with the past and with your ancestors and feel a deep reverence for their lives and accomplishments.
Now imagine the menacing sound of bulldozers closing in and men at work. Their heavy machinery rattles the ground. You hear workers rigging dynamite to these massive stone structures. There is a brief lull and then the deafening blow of multiple explosions as Machu Picchu is razed to the ground.
Be at ease, Machu Piccu is a UNESCO protected site. But a very similar 2,600-year-old Buddhist site in Logar province, Afghanistan isn't so lucky.
Documentary-maker Brent Huffman
Documentary-maker Brent Huffman
This site is called Mes Aynak and is nothing short of awe-inspiring: a massive walled-in Buddhist city featuring massive temples, monasteries, and thousands of Buddhist statues that managed to survive looters and the Taliban. Holding a key position on the Silk Road, Mes Aynak was also an international hub for traders and pilgrims from all over Asia.
Hundreds of fragile manuscripts detailing daily life at the site are still yet to be excavated. Beneath the Buddhist dwellings is an even older yet-unearthed Bronze age site indicated by several recent archaeological findings.
Mes Aynak is set for destruction at the end of December 2012. All of the temples, monasteries, statues as well as the Bronze age material will all be destroyed by a Chinese government-owned company called China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC). Six villages and the mountain range will also be destroyed to create a massive open-pit style copper mine.
In 2007, MCC outbid competitors with a $3 billion bid to lease the area for 30 years. MCC plans to extract over $100 billion worth of copper located directly beneath the Buddhist site. Ironically, the Buddhists were also mining for copper albeit in a more primitive fashion.
MCC says they weren't told about the archaeology site's existence until after the contract was signed. Following significant international pressure and perhaps sensing an impending PR nightmare, MCC in 2009 gave archaeologists three years to attempt to excavate the site.
Archaeologists say they need at least 30 years to do the job but had no choice but to accept MCCs brief timetable. Specialists on site are working with extremely limited funding and the crudest of tools.
There is a magic to Mes Aynak -- an ability to draw in people from around the world who will risk their lives to save it.
Brent Huffman
Afghan archaeologists, who do the majority of the excavation, don't have access to computers or digital cameras and have been sleeping on the floor in a wooden shack when staying on the site overnight.
Today, three teams of international archaeologists led by DAFA, a French archaeological delegation, scramble to save as many relics as they can. These experts are performing rushed rescue archeology, which focuses on removing movable objects and not on preserving structures.
Archaeologists now have less than four months to do three decades worth of excavation. They are also risking their lives daily as locals of Logar Province, angry at the loss of their villages partner with the Taliban to regularly attack both the MCC site and the archaeology location with rockets and land mines.
In July, a Logar worker unearthed a landmine that exploded in his face. Later that month, four Afghan policemen were killed by a landmine on the road leading to the archaeology site.
I am often asked, "Why save it? It is, after all, just another remnant of the past, right?" Wrong.
Mes Aynak is the missing link that shows Afghanistan's interconnectivity throughout Asia on the Silk Road. Afghanistan needs to see the value of learning its own cultural history as too often the country's story is co-opted by the lens of another.
Afghans need to claim their cultural significance in the world for current and new generations. And the findings at Mes Aynak will be the key to doing that.
In addition to Mes Aynak's historical significance, the site is breathtaking to behold in person. I can't help but feel privileged and honored to have been able to set foot inside its ancient walls, to have been able to bare witness to massive Buddhas, many of which are still coated in gold paint overlooking their ancient city.
These statues have miraculously survived looting, survived the intense heat and cold, and survived over three decades of continuous war.
There is a magic to Mes Aynak -- an ability to draw in people from around the world who will risk their lives to save it. I fell in love with this ancient site and will do everything in my power to try to help save it.
It sickens me to know that in a short time this site will be destroyed in the same violent and disrespectful way the Buddha of Bamyan was destroyed. This desecration shows no reverence to culture or religion.
Imagine someone bulldozing your grandparents' graves and blowing up their cemetery. How could the world look away letting such crime happen in the name of capitalism?
Unfortunately, Mes Aynak has gained some powerful enemies. MCC, The World Bank and Afghan ministries all want mining to start ASAP.
In my opinion, they want Mes Aynak to set a precedent -- to be a model for resource extraction of the one trillion dollars plus of valuable minerals like oil, copper, lithium and iron buried underneath Afghanistan.
According to archaeologists that I spoke with, every mining location holds cultural heritage. On every potential mine lies an ancient site like Mes Aynak. So, even worse than the senseless destruction of Mes Aynak, is the thought that this kind of cheap destructive process will be replicated all across Afghanistan.
I often hear talk about mineral extraction being somehow good for Afghanistan, but I promise you this is not the case.
Given the country's out of control corruption there are a privileged few who will see any payout from such endeavors. Afghan citizens have absolutely nothing to gain from this copper mine or any other international extractive industry.
I believe Chinese will bring in their own laborers to manage the mine and Afghans will be given only low level and terribly paid positions working in slave-like conditions.
And I have said nothing about the environmental devastation. Many mining experts have told me the toxic pollution from the mine will likely turn Mes Aynak into a site so toxic that in the future people will be advised against even setting foot on the ground. They tell me this pollution will be permanent, rivers will be polluted and the toxins will travel to other areas -- and the locals have never been educated about these risks to the area.
So not only will Afghanistan lose an ancient site, a key to unlocking its important history, but the country will lose the land and everything living on it. And what happens when Afghanistan needs copper or oil or iron for its own development? Will they have to buy it back from China at inflated rates?
My fear is that in the future Afghanistan will consist of hundreds of these gaping toxic craters and the resources the country needs for its own development will be lost. Afghans will see no benefit. They will suffer from irreversible environmental devastation and the permanent loss of invaluable cultural heritage.
So as a final request I want you to close your eyes once again. Imagine a city-sized toxic crater in the ground where the majestic Machu Picchu once stood. That sight, unfortunately, is the future of Mes Aynak unless we do something to stop it.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Exhibition Horse & Rider - From Homer to Genghis Khan extended till 4th of November 2012



I visited this saturday this exhibition in Amsterdam. 

For those unfamiliar with the Mongolian history, it's quite unusual to actually be able to view any remains from the Mongolian era as there are hardly any remains from this nomads apart from their spectacular stories and history,largely recorded by the people they conquered.

Recent finds in Mongolia show a small part of their actual daily belongings and are quite rare.

These new finds are on show at this exhibition in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam which exhibition has been extended till the 4th of November 2012.
!

For more details, go to:







Horse & Rider - From Homer to Genghis Khan

In the world of the Greeks (1300 - 300 BC) and on the Mongolian steppe (600 - 1400 AD) 

Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam  16 May to 16 September 2012


Poster exhibition 'Horse & Rider'.The combined exhibition Horse & Rider - From Homer to Genghis Khan is presented in the Allard Pierson Museum from 16 May to 16 September 2012. The impact of horse and rider on the world of the Greeks and on Central Asia lies at the focus, with two different cultures coming under the microscope: a nomadic and once feared nation from the Asian steppe and a city-based and influential society centred on the Mediterranean that we know as the cradle of our current Western civilisation. These are two highly evocative cultures, with Homer and the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan as iconic opening and closing points. By means of this combined exhibition the Allard Pierson Museum for the first time confronts and combines its own classical collection with finds from a period and region that are not normally covered.
The Greek part of the exhibition shows the rise and use of the horse as mount and status symbol roughly from the Troy described by Homer right up to Alexander the Great, between 1300 and 300 BC. The Mongolian part shows archaeological finds recently excavated from rock graves in Mongolia. These finds from the 7th to 14th centuries AD have been exceptionally well preserved. They include musical instruments, items of clothing, weapons and of course saddles and harnesses. During this period, owing to the introduction of the stirrup, the rise of the steppe peoples reached its apogee in 1206 with the founding of the Mongol Empire by Genghis Khan - one of the largest empires in world history. The exhibition depicts a society in which man and horse work together as a single unit. The exhibition Horse & Rider transports the viewer to two different worlds in which man and horse are inextricably bound up with each other.
To mark the exhibition, a catalogue of the Mongolian part is being published (17.95 euros) along with a special from AP Notifications by the Association of the Friends of the Allard Pierson Museum (6.50 euros). In addition, there is a wide range of associated events, including lectures, guided tours, study days and workshops. Visitors - young and old - will be able to imagine themselves as true inhabitants of the Mongolian steppe in a fully equipped yurt, or traditional nomad tent, complete with appropriate clothing. The Mongolia of today as source of inspiration can be seen in Blue Sky, a selection of photographs and artwork by Matthea van Staden and Jeroen Toirkens.
More than 200 museum artefacts will be presented against a backdrop of life-size antique mosaics and Mongolian steppe landscapes, with 100 of them on loan from the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia. The arresting exhibition design , rich in texture and tangibility , is by Theo Braams. The exhibition has been made possible with the assistance of the LVR LandesMuseum in Bonn, the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (German Ministry for Education and Research) and the Gerda Henkel Foundation.
There is an additional charge of € 3 throughout the Horse & Rider exhibition, period (16 May to 16 September 2012).

For further information/images contact Katja Vermeulen, Communications & PR Allard Pierson Museum, 020-5252555/56,c.m.a.vermeulen@uva.nl
A review copy of the 96-page, richly illustrated publication (ISBN 9789040007439) is available from WBOOKS, 038 4673400,sales@wbooks.com
Horse & Rider - From Homer to Genghis Khan (16 May to 16 September 2012)
Allard Pierson Museum, Oude Turfmarkt 127, Amsterdam, www.allardpiersonmuseum.nl

Steppenkrieger: Reiternomaden des 7.-14. Jahrhunderts aus der Mongolei (3)

Um einen Bogen im Ritt zu spannen, braucht man enorm viel Kraft und Körperbeherrschung - die Steppenreiter hatten beides. Schon bevor Dschingis Khan Anfang des 13. Jahrhunderts die Mongolei formierte, lebten in Zentralasien Reitervölker: etwa die Alttürken, die Uiguren und die Kitanen. Das LVR-Landesmuseum Bonn widmet ihnen die Ausstellung "Steppenkrieger. Reiternomaden des 7. bis 14. Jahrhunderts aus der Mongolei".
Die mehr als 100 Objekte wurden in der West-Mongolei entdeckt, in Bonn restauriert und werden nun erstmals der Öffentlichkeit präsentiert. Wie dieser Sattel, in dem ein Steppenbewohner den Großteil des Tages verbrachte. "Die Sättel waren zwar aus Holz, aber ergonomisch angefertigt. Damit man die Zeit auf dem Pferd auch ohne Blessuren übersteht", sagt Micheael Schmauder, einer der Kuratoren vom LVR. Meistens hatten die Sättel noch einen Lederbezug.
Ein echtes Schmuckstück, das über 1.000 Jahre alt ist. Einen solchen Seiden-Kaftan konnten sich nur sehr Reiche leisten. Dieses Unikat wurde in einer Felshöhle in den Bergen gefunden, die als heilige Orte der Götter galten. Ein zirka 15 Jahre alter Junge wurde mit diesem Mantel beerdigt. Innen war das Stück früher purpurrot.
Die Struktur dieser Tasche erinnert an die Haut einer Schlange. "Wahrscheinlich handelt es sich aber um Fischhaut", sagt Michael Schmauder. Obwohl es in der Mongolei viele Seen und Flüsse gebe, sei bisher nicht bekannt gewesen, dass Fische in Mittelasien als Werkstoff verwendet wurden. Die Restauratoren mussten die Tasche über Monate mit Wassernebel bedampfen, um den Inhalt herausholen zu können. Sie fanden Feuerstahl und –stein. "Das gehörte damals zur Standardausrüstung."
Michael Schmauder (rechts) betrachtet gemeinsam mit einer Restauratorin und dem Bonner Archäologie-Professor Jan Bemmann einen Reflexbogen, der die Durchschlagskraft eines heutigen Sportbogens hat. Bemmann und sein Team kooperieren seit zwölf Jahren mit ihren Kollegen in der Mongolei.
Tasse, Teller und der Behälter für die Pfeile – alles aus Holz. Nicht etwa, weil die Reitervölker keine Keramik kannten: Die wäre auf dem Pferd einfach zu schwer und zu zerbrechlich gewesen. Der Köcher mit den Pfeilen wurde – immer griffbereit – seitlich am Gürtel getragen.
Eigentlich gilt die Pferdekopfgeige als das mongolische Nationalinstrument. Deshalb waren die Wissenschaftler überrascht, als sie nicht etwa eine solche Geige, sondern diese Harfe in den Felshöhlen fanden. Auf der Unterseite sind Verzierungen angebracht, die Jagdszenen darstellen.
Eigentlich gilt die Pferdekopfgeige als das mongolische Nationalinstrument. Deshalb waren die Wissenschaftler überrascht, als sie nicht etwa eine solche Geige, sondern diese Harfe in den Felshöhlen fanden. Auf der Unterseite sind Verzierungen angebracht, die Jagdszenen darstellen.

Steppenkrieger - Reiternomaden des 7. - 14. Jahrhunderts aus der Mongolei (2)

Die Konservierung und Dokumentation der Grabbeigaben des Felsgrabs im mongolischen Altai, mit der Studenten der FH Köln betraut waren, ist nun vollendet.
Die Ergebnisse des Gemeinschaftsprojekts der Fachhochschule Köln, der Universität Bonn, des LVR-LandesMuseums Bonn und des Instituts für Archäologie der Mongolischen Akademie der Wissenschaft können ab dem 26. Januar 2012 in der Sonderausstellung »Steppenkrieger. Reiternomaden des 7.- 14. Jahrhunderts aus der Mongolei« im LVR-Landesmuseum Bonn besichtigt werden.
Herzstück dieser Ausstellung bilden die restaurierten und dokumentierten Funde der 2008 entdeckten mongolischen Felsgräbern des 7.-11. Jahrhunderts, in denen sich aufgrund des trockenen Klimas zahlreiche Textilreste erhalten haben.
Aufsehen erregend sind vor allem die Funde aus Dugui Cahir (11. Jahrhundert), zwei unterschiedliche Gewändern aus der reiternomadischen Kultur.
Damit liegen zum ersten Mal originale Beispiele von Bekleidung aus dem 11. Jh. vor, die bis heute nur aus Abbildungen bekannt sind.

Die Nahaufnahme zeigt einen kleinen Ausschnitt vom Seidenkaftan (Foto: FH Köln/Thilo Schmülgen) 

Maike Piecuch und Laura Peters, beide Masterstudentinnen an der FH Köln, gelang es unter der Leitung von Prof. Dr. Annemarie Stauffer, aus den vielen Einzelteilen einen einzigartigen Seidenkaftan aus chinesischem Damastgewebe und den ältesten bis heute bekannten Wolldeel (einen Mantel aus Wollfilz) zu rekonstruieren.
»Die Seide wurde in üppigster Weise verarbeitet – der Kaftan besteht vollständig aus Seide«, schwärmt Professorin Annemarie Stauffer. »Das lässt Rückschlüsse auf die hohe Position und den Reichtum seines Besitzers zu und zeigt, dass man einen Zugang zu Handelsgütern und Zugang zu China hatte. Allerdings wissen wir noch nicht auf welchen Wegen der Seidendamast in die Nordmongolei kam.« Nur Chinesen konnten damals Damastseide weben. Möglicherweise war der Seidendamast ein wertvolles Geschenk. Der Träger muss ein sehr hoch gestellter Reiterfürst gewesen sein, selbst das Innenfutter ist aus Seide. Der raffinierte Schnitt wirft ein neues Licht auf die herausragenden Leistungen der reiternomadischen Kultur: »Wir wussten«, so Prof. Dr. Annemarie Stauffer, »dass die Ärmel der Reitergewänder in unterschiedlicher Weise getragen werden konnten. Erst jetzt wissen wir, wie das Gewand konkret geschneidert war und getragen wurde. Es hat sehr lange Ärmel, durch Schlitze unter den Armen konnten die Arme zum Reiten aus den Ärmeln gezogen und diese mit einem Knopf am Rücken befestigt werden.«

Auch der 1000 Jahre alte Wollmantel belegt höchste Schneiderkunst der ebenso gefürchteten wie bewunderten Reiternomaden (Foto: J. Vogel/LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn) 


 Höchste Schneiderkunst belegt auch der zweite Textilfund, der Wollmantel. Er besteht aus einzelnen zusammen genähten Bahnen. Das Besondere sind die Feinheit und die Verarbeitung des Tuchs. Der Mantel ist hochfunktionell geschneidert: Oben eng anliegend, unten weit geschnitten (damit man aufs Pferd steigen konnte), und so genäht, dass der Reiter nicht auf den Nähten sitzen musste und seine Beine geschützt waren. Zudem hatte er eine Kapuze zum Schutz gegen die Witterung. Auch zeigt er die Besonderheiten der reiternomadischen Tracht: einen besonderen Dekor aus farblich abgesetztem Filz und kunstvolle Verschlüsse. Bis heute stellt er das älteste derartige Gewand dar.Und das alles in einer sehr feinen Faser, schön und gleichmäßig verarbeitet.

Maike Piecuch (Masterstudentin), Laura Peters (Masterstudentin), Prof. Dr. Annemaire Stauffer, Leiterin der Studienrichtung Restaurierung und Konservierung von Textilien und Archäologischen Fasern der Fachhochschule Köln (Foto: FH Köln/Thilo Schmülgen) 

Die Erforschung, Rekonstruktion und anschließende Konservierung der Gewänder wurde von der Gerda Henkel Stiftung und dem Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung gefördert. Bis zum 29. April 2012 präsentiert die Sonderausstellung nun erstmals anhand einzigartiger Objekte Bewaffnung, Ausrüstung und Kleidung der Nomaden. Anhand der Objekte gelingt ein tiefer Einblick in das Leben der Steppennomaden und damit in eine kulturelle Welt, die immer wieder die mitteleuropäische Geschichte maßgeblich beeinflusst hat. Die neuen Erkenntnisse sind Meilensteine der Kulturgeschichte und in der Erforschung der mongolischen Kultur.
Presseinfo FH Köln

Steppenkrieger: Reiternomaden des 7.-14. Jahrhunderts aus der Mongolei (1)

Steppenkrieger: Reiternomaden des 7.-14. Jahrhunderts aus der Mongolei [German] [Hardcover]

Das Begleitbuch zur Ausstellung im LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn vermittelt anhand beeindruckender und einzigartiger Funde Einblicke in die Lebenswelt der Reiternomaden. Von den Alttürken bis zu den Mongolen wird vor allem die überlegene Bewaffnung der Reiterkrieger vorgestellt.Über Jahrtausende stießen Reiternomaden aus den fernen Steppen Asiens bis nach Europa vor. Aus Sicht der westlichen Welt war es eine bedrohliche Masse, die unter vielen Namen bekannt war. Attilas Hunnen und die Mongolen Dschingis Khans prägten sich tief in das europäische Bewusstsein ein. Aber wer genau waren diese Menschen, die unter dem Begriff Reiternomaden zusammengefasst werden? Bisher standen nur wenige archäologische Zeugnisse aus der Lebenswelt der Steppenbewohner des 7. bis 14. Jahrhunderts zur Verfügung. Neue Antworten und Erkenntnisse bieten nun die dank des trockenen Klimas sensationell gut erhaltenen Grabausstattungen ranghoher Verstorbener aus der Mongolei. Die Ausstellung Steppenkrieger präsentiert zum ersten Mal in Europa die gefürchteten Reflexbögen sowie Köcher mit Pfeilen und Reitzeug. Kleidungsstücke, u. a. der älteste erhaltene Filzkaftan, und das einzige bisher bekannte frühmittelalterliche Saiteninstrument beleuchten in Kombination mit detaillierten naturwissenschaftlichen und technologischen Analysen der Artefakte bisher kaum bekannte Aspekte der Kultur der eurasischen Steppenvölker.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Free admittance Lecture Series "The transformation of Buddhism across Central Asia from India to China "

Starting the 2nd of October Prof. Meiji Yamada will teach two courses about Buddhism at the University of Leiden.

The transformation of Buddhism across Central Asia from India to China (Start the 2nd of October)
Time: Every Tuesday evening from 19.00-21.00
Venue: LIPSIUS Building Room 228, Leiden University


and

The Way of Tea, the Way of the Buddha( Start the 10th of October)





The courses are free accessible for anyone interested in this/these subject(s) 

Start first lecture Tuesday 2nd of October 2012 
Lipsius Building, Room 228, 
Cleveringaplaats 1,
Leiden University


The course " The transformation of Buddhism across Central Asia from India to China" will trace the spread of Buddhism from the Indian heartland toward the Northwest, into regions now in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and then further over the mountain passes into Central Asia, whence eastward toward western China. It will focus on the importance of the Indian emperor Asoka, on the cult of relics of the Buddha and the stupas or memorial mounds within which they were entombed, on the relation between Buddhism and trade, and the ways in which Buddhism spread along the so-called ‘Silk Routes,’ namely the great trade routes which ultimately linked Rome and China.
Attention will also be given to the status of treatment of the dead in Buddhism, the role of divine figures, and their visual depiction especially in Central Asian cave temples. Texts excavated from diverse sites along the trade routes will be examined in light of what they can tell us about indiginous Buddhisms.
The Pure Land traditions, which later take on so much importance in East Asia, are then treated, and finally consideration will be given to an almost universally ignored region of Buddhist expansion, that into what is now Iran and Persian regions far to the west of what is usually considered the borders of Buddhist geography.

Contents:

1. The Legends of King Asoka and his Missionizing: The encounter of Buddhism and other religions.

2. The Relic Cult 1: Its origins and development. Relic stupas in the region of Sanchi

3. The Relic Cult 2: From Gandhara and Taxila Eastwards

4. Trade, Business and the Spread of Buddhism: The Buddhist faith of the Sakas

5. The East Asian Development of Lay Buddhism 1: Funerals and Buddhism

6. The East Asian Development of Lay Buddhism 2: Apsaras and Vajrapa

7. Central Asian Ruins and Excavated Documents: Donation and Supplication

8. The Development of the Bodhisattva Idea 1: Avalokitesvara / Guanyin

9. The Development of the Bodhisattva Idea 2: Maitreya and the Ideal Future

10. The Crossroads of Asia: The importance of Bamiyan

11. The Spread of Pure Land Buddhism: From mindfulness of the Buddha to Buddha-name recitation

12. The Spread of Buddhism West to Iran

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Khitans and Liao Dynasty

Again an excellent series of seven episodes in "Journeys in Time" from CNTV, called "The Khitans and Liao Dynasty"