Entries Tagged as Mustang

Chotsang Cave Temple of Mustang - Added

August 15, 2012 ·

Chotsang is located in North Eastern Mustang above the walled town of Lo Monthang. The wall murals of the cave temple follow a Sakya/Ngorpa iconographic program while the various sculpture appear to be predominantly Kagyu. Apparently in the recent past there was another temple situated close by. That other temple was Kagyu in tradition and the location faced faster erosion than the Chotsang hillside location. The sculpture from the Kagyu Temple were removed prior to the collapse of the cave. They were then placed in the Chotsang cave Temple for safe keeping. (The images are courtesy of a private collection).

Tags: Mustang · additions · Murals

Puntsog Ling Cave Complex in Upper Mustang

June 02, 2011 ·

The Punstog Ling Cave complex in Upper Mustang, Nepal, is one of four special Buddhist monastic/retreat complexes located in the region. The four sites starting in the West and moving East are: [1] Ganden Ling, [2] Puntsog Ling, [3] Ritseling and [4] Konchogling. Of the four, Puntsog Ling is the most damaged externally by the environment and internally by human action. The complex is a great study in the erosion of such caves in Mustang. The most stunning image is the first encountered at the site and shows a figure recessed only inches from the outer walls - hillside - of the cave but in fact what is being seen is a mural originally located at the back wall of a cave that existed 100s of years ago. Erosion has removed the entrance and side walls of the hillside so much that the image is almost completely exposed and at the mercy of constant weathering.

Tags: Mustang · art · Murals · Nepal

Ritseling Cave Paintings in Upper Mustang

May 30, 2011 ·

The Ritseling Cave is located in Upper Mustang on a peak West of the Konchog Ling Cave. Prior to the last few years it appears as though no one has entered the small cave complex in several hundred years. It has an assortment of murals with a large mandala close to the entrance along with several Buddha figures. Towards the back of the cave there is a mural depicting narrative scenes possibly of one of the occupants of the cave and his travels through Tibet and especially to Lhasa. Various protector deities are found along with a stunning image - large in size - of the nine faced, eighteen armed Garuda. The only other image of this Garuda in a Buddhist context is found in Phyang Monastery, Ladakh, India.

Tags: Mustang · art · Murals · Nepal

Luri Cave Paintings in Mustang

May 27, 2011 ·

The Luri Cave in Mustang, Nepal, has some of the earliest and most beautiful Buddhist wall murals. A set of the Eight Great Mahasiddhas stands out for the fine line and early iconographic features.

Tags: Mustang · art · Murals · Nepal

The Village & Temples of Tsarang (Charang), Nepal

August 29, 2010 ·

The village of Tsarang is just south of the walled town of Lo Monthang, the capital of the Kingdom of Mustang in North Western Nepal. The village of Tsarang (Charang) has numerous stupa structures, a monastery (gompa) and a fortress (dzong). The monastery is made up of several buildings and structures. Some are in the process of being renovated and others are in a state of serious disrepair. The inner walls of the main temple are painted with murals depicting the deities of the Medicine Buddha mandala. They have recently been cleaned and restored. It has been suggested by some local informants that depictions and rituals of Medicine Buddha are a special object of devotion in the Kingdom of Mustang and can be found in the temples of almost every Mustang village.

By far one of the most interesting buildings in the small walled monastic complex is located at the back of the property, looking like nothing but a ruin, almost falling over a cliff. The structure is referred to locally as the Ani Gompa, or Ani Lhakang (nunnery). Navigating the only entrance, a set of small wooden double doors, flanked by a Wheel of Life and murals of the Four Guardian Kings, arriving inside, it is imediately noticable that the roof has large gaping holes, numerous rafters with blue sky behind. The floor is an uneven surface of mud and dirt and the entire place seems like it could collapse at any momenent. Yet despite all of that, the inner walls are completely decorated with brightly coloured murals, some of which appear to have been cleaned and restored in very recent years. It is like an oasis of colour and palacial grandeur, unexpected, awesome and immediately comforting and strangely well grounded, stable and solid.

The inner layout of the room, clearly a temple or shrine room of some sort, is not completely typical. The main inner wall at the front of the room (across from the door) has a large depiction of the Buddha Vajradhara, the primordial Buddha, surrounded by the lineage teachers of the Sakya Lamdre - based on the Hevjra Tantra and teachings of the Indian mahasiddha Virupa (depicted with six different forms in the murals of the main temple). On the viewer's left hand side is a very large painting of Padmasambhava surrounded by a Nyingma lineage. On the right side of the room is a large painting of a Drugpa Kagyu teacher surrounded by a Drugpa Kagyu lineage. The side walls of the room appear to depict the Five Symbolic Buddhas accompanied by smaller buddhas representing the One Thousand Buddhas of the Age. To the immediate right and left of the entrance are protector deities of the Sakya Tradition on one side and protectors of the Drugpa Kagyu Tradition of the other side.

Despite being called an Ani Gompa, the structure is more likely to be a Lamdre Lhakang or a building created for use during the Monastic Summer Retreat - and later painted. As a backdrop to the monastery, on the steep cliff sides of the valley surrounding the village are evidence of extensive cave dwellings both for religious as well as secular use. Only some of these caves are accessible, most are not. Only a small percentage of the caves have been explored by trained climbers and cultural specialists. 

Tsarang Village
Main Temple
Ani Lhakang
Village Fortress (Dzong)

Tags: Mustang · Architecture · art · iconography

Mustang, Nepal: Chushar Mandalas

August 29, 2010 ·

The Chushar area of Northern Mustang, West Nepal, is home to numerous ancient cave sites containing Buddhist murals and artifacts dating back 500 years or more. According to the local inhabitants of the area there are four important famous cave sites called: 1) Konchog Ling, 2) Ritse Ling, 3) Ganden Ling and 4) ... ling. All four sites have remains of murals with some in very good condition and some in poor condition.

Tags: Mustang · art