Opening of the 16th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies in Prague – Buddhistdoor Global

Opening ceremony. Image reproduced with the kind permission of the author

The 16th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) opened in Prague on July 3. Organized by the Faculty of Arts of Charles University and the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, with the financial support of the City of Prague, the conference will continue until July 9.

The opening ceremony took place on July 4 at the Faculty of Arts, with keynote speeches from representatives of both educational institutions and IATS President Hanna Havnevik of the University of Oslo. The organizers of this most prestigious Tibetan studies seminar are Daniel Berounský from Charles University and Jarmila Ptáčková from the Oriental Institute.

Havnevik drew attention to the importance of the seminar location: “This is the first time that an IATS seminar has been held in a central European country which, until the Velvet Revolution in 1989, was on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain. This revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall were pivotal events in world history, opening Central and Eastern Europe to free academic exchange, including scholars in Tibetan studies.

Havnevik also underlined the rich tradition of the Czech Republic in the field of Tibetan studies, established by the polyglot Josef Kolmaš (1933-2021), and she expressed her gratitude to the organizing team.

Prague. Image reproduced with the kind permission of the author

Several hundred abstracts on many topics have been reviewed for the forum, including Tibetan Buddhism. For the first time, online participation was included in the procedures due to travel restrictions for some participants. For various reasons, scholars of Tibetan studies from mainland China were unable to participate.

The IATS Board of Directors has received requests to take a strong stance on two important issues: sexual harassment and assault and research ethics. This is why a special plenary session was organized on July 4th.

A special panel discussion on July 8, a last-minute addition to the conference program, will focus on the recent restoration of bhikshuni ordination in Bhutan.* Participants will be Karma Lekshe Tsomo (University of San Diego) and Karma Phuntsho ( Loden Foundation and Buddha Nature Project of the Tsadra Foundation) of Bhutan, with Manuel Lopez from the New College of Florida and Fan Wu, a graduate student from the University of Virginia. The purpose of this special session will be to discuss the significance of this historic event and its possible impact on the lives of nuns in the region.

The exhibition “The Tibetan army in historical photographs 1895-1959.” Image reproduced with the kind permission of the author

The seminar also offers a rich cultural program. During the opening ceremony, curator Alice Travers presented a special exhibition, “The Tibetan Army in Historical Photographs 1895-1959”. This unique exhibition of 166 photographs seeks to shed light on a little-studied secular aspect of Tibetan history: its army before 1959.

Host institutions offer city tours and a guided introduction to the National Gallery’s Asian collections, which include more than 13,000 artifacts, including Tibetan and Mongolian paintings and sculptures from the 17th to 19th centuries.

An exhibition, “The Painted Mantra – Sacred Syllables Illuminated by Tibetan Calligraphy” by Tashi Mannox, one of the foremost contemporary Tibetan calligraphers and Dharma artists, will open in Červený Jelen on July 7. The exhibits will be on display in the Tibet Open House gallery in Prague until July 27, and then will be auctioned off to raise funds for a scholarship for a Tibetan scholar to travel from China to the next IATS seminar. Mannox will also create a huge “calligraffiti” on a wall at the “Eastern Tunes” music festival in Mikulášovice.

The seminar program also includes a concert and several Tibetan films.

Organizing team. Image reproduced with the kind permission of the author

The IATS was officially established in 1979 at a conference on Tibetan studies organized at the University of Oxford by the late English historian Michael Aris (1946-1999), who wrote and lectured on Bhutanese, Tibetan and Himalayan culture. the story. The purpose of the association, as stated in the statutes drawn up at this meeting, is above all to promote the study of Tibet from all disciplinary angles, including history, religion, linguistics and art, to name just four prominent examples, and to provide a forum for established and aspiring scholars to present original scholarly research. As an association, the IATS has no political interests or affiliations.

The 15th IATS seminar was hosted by the National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations (Inalco) in France in 2019. The other host countries are: Austria (1995), Canada (2009), Germany (1985, 2006), Japan (1989), Mongolia (2013), Netherlands (2000), Norway (1992, 2016), United Kingdom (1979, 2003) and United States (1982, 1998).

* View of the Buddhist door: June 21 – Conditions conducive to the growth of the Bhikshuni Order (BDG), Gelongma Dompa (dgeslongma’i sdom pa): Bhikshuni ordination blessing in Bhutan (BDG) and 142 Buddhist nuns receive full ordination in historic ceremony in Bhutan (BDG)

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