Two Illuminated Text Collections of Namgyal Monastery, Mustang

Among the various sacred objects of Namgyal Monastery, two collections of Buddhist canonical literature stand out for their age and complex illumination programmes. A new book publication by Markus Viehbeck and myself presents the visual and textual contents of these two sets of Buddhist manuscripts and analyses them from the perspectives of manuscript studies, art history, and textual analysis. The book—including all preserved illuminations and the complete catalogue of texts contained—is the first volume of a new peer reviewed publication series dedicated to the Himalayas called Vajra Academic and published with Vajra Books, Kathmandu, Nepal. For further information on this series see the Vajra Books website.

Ancient Temples in Lo Manthang

It has been many years and several attempts in the making, now image galleries documenting the Jampa Lhakhang and Tupchen Lhakhang in Lo Manthang are online. These images have generously been provided by Philip and Marsha Lieberman (1993, 1994), who also published a selection of their documentation online (Tibetan Buddhist Wall Paintings of Mustang, Nepal), and Jaroslav Poncar (1998). Today, this documentation is invaluable due to the recent restorations of these temples, which are also partially documented through comparisons I took in 2013. I have already expressed my opinion about these restorations in two articles, now everyone can see what has been lost through them.

A New Book on Alchi

Finally, my publication on the Alchi Choskhor together with Jaroslav Poncar and Serindia is approaching the finishing line. Building on and including an updated version of the Sumtsek volume published by Roger Goepper it covers all early remains of the Alchi Choskhor. Through a detailed analysis of the architecture, murals and sculptures in their context, and their interrelationship to each other and to Tibetan textual sources likely known at the time, the publication offers a new understanding of the monuments historical and religious environment. Holger Neuwirth and Carmen Auer contribute on the architecture and their plans, and Rob Linrothe and Nils Martin contribute new studies on the lineage and foundation inscription of the Sumtsek respectively. See also:

The Interior Decoration of Wanla

In 2015 Holger Neuwirth & Carmen Auer published a book on The Three Storied Temple of Wanla with their University (Technische Universität Graz). By that time I had worked for years on a full description of the temple's iconography, but could not get it finished in time for the publication. In the meantime, I shared this draft with a number of people, but I think even in its draft state the rich material assembled in the 180 page document may be of broader interest. I have thus made it available through this website.

Namgyal Page

Mustang Monastery Collections

Since 2012 I am documenting monastery collections in Mustang. The collection of sculptures and books at Namgyal monastery turned out to be extremely exciting, each visit resulting in new discoveries. A first glimpse on this collection is offered in a two part contribution to Orientations (March and June 2016). The 14th century Prajñāpāramitā and Sūtra sections of the Kanjur are now fully documented and their catalogue and a study of its illuminations are in process. The Lamdré sculpture sets are being studied in detail as well.


Cave of Great Adepts

In 2007 the rediscovery of a painted cave hidden in the barren mountain landscape of Upper Mustang, Nepal, hit the international headlines. Years passed without further information on the cave, the published mural and its context, save for an article providing only an initial assessment published in 2010. This website contains the full documentation of the cave's murals, accompanying an article written for the June 2014 issue of Orientations which offers a more precise reading and context for the cave.



Now that the excavation report of this fascinating early Buddhist site has been published, I decided to make my documentation from the early years of the new millennium publicly available. The more than 400 pictures have been taken in the course of a two day visit and are roughly arranged clockwise around the monument beginning on the east side. For more information on this documentation see the site page on Kanaganahalli.

Flip Side

Flip Side

Since March 2013 Flip Side, The Unseen in Tibetan Art is on view at the Rubin Museum of Art. The exhibition reveals and explains the backs of selected Tibetan artworks for the first time. Be ready for surprises. A brochure planned to accompany the exhibit had to be abandoned, and what is being presented in the exhibit is so far unpublished.


Mustang Again

In May 2012 I had again the opportunity to visit Mustang, Nepal, called Lo locally. This time I spent twenty one days in the restricted area, saw the Tiji festival, a ritual dedicated to the deity Vajrakīlaya, visited sites I had not seen at my earlier visit, and also walked down the east side of the Kali Kandaki valley, a spectacular walk indeed. This journey was for a project on behalf of the Rubin Museum of Art about which I will inform in due course. Here are two picture galleries from this trip:

Storm King

One nice autumn day in 2011 I was invited to join a day trip to the Storm King Art Center an hour drive north of New York city. What an amazing park and art landscape to roam around and get new views with every step, even more so with the famous New York state autumn colours in full swing.

Nijo Castle, Kyoto


Thanks to an invitation of Ryukoku University, in Summer 2011 I finally had the chance to visit Kyoto and some surrounding historic places, what a revelation in both art and architecture. With my affinity to Buddhist art and Yoga Tantra, and a background in Indian art, this was certainly the best place to go to in Japan, and to learn from. Besides the quality of the art and architecture I was fascinated by those aspects of early Japanese Buddhist art that document a loss in translation (as well as adaptation and subsequent reinterpretation) from the wider South Asian area to Japan. Take the iconic Ashura from the Kofukuji in Nara, is he really explainable on the basis of an Indic background or must he not much rather be interpreted against the Iranic/Zoroastrian interpretation of the world? I also can't decide if I would rather move to Amitabha's phoenix palace at Uji or his gigantic world of the Todaiji at Nara. This is what samsara and desire are all about, or not?

New York

With 1st October 2010 I settled in New York. My books have arrived some month later and fill my modest but well located apartment. Living as an academic nomad—and haven't slept in my own bed—for many years, I am glad to have a different life style now. While searching for my present apartment, I shared a place with a view of New York as one imagines it in one's dreams ...

Bikers on the wrong path


Thanks to an extremely generous person I could visit Mustang in August 2010, a visit that had a considerable impact on me. Not only are the temples of Lo Manthang impressive in many respects, but in general the art and artistic heritage preserved in this region is remarkable. Needless to say, also the flights and the walks to get there and back are an exquisite experience in themselves. Astonishingly, on the way up we were accompanied by a group of bikers, who carried their bikes more than they could use them. Brave people indeed ...