SOAS University of London

Centre of Buddhist Studies

De- and Re-Consecration and Discovery: Reestablishing Karsha’s Kadampa Chorten (seminar)

Rob Linrothe (Northwestern University, Evanston)

Date: 30 November 2019Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 30 November 2019Time: 1:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 286

Type of Event: Seminar

Note: Internal event not open to external attendees.

The seminar is free and open to all, but registration is necessary. Please email for information.


Arga’i cho ga  and rab gnas cho ga are rituals that continue to be regularly and strictly observed in practice.  They are fundamental to the processes of creation, repair, rebuilding, shifting, and reestablishing art and architecture.  In the seminar, we will discuss textual prescriptions of these key rituals, using a recent English translation of a work of Jetsün Dragpa Gyaltsen (1147–1216).  We will also look at images of the rituals at the Kadampa Chorten in the Chuchikjyal neighborhood of Karsha, Zangskar, as organized by the Karsha Lonpo Sonam Wangchuk.  In the process, we will examine and discuss two modes of contemporary architectural repair—one using imported materials such as cement, the other with largely local materials—as well as discoveries made of precious fragments of artworks made in the process of both repairing and dismantling dilapidated chorten after their deconsecration. We will briefly examine the context of the Kadampa Chorten, its hillside location, literally between older fortifications and shrines dating to the ca. 14th and late 16th century. We will also consider what the documented temporarily exhumed artworks, as well as the extant murals and sculptures at the site, can tell us about the arc of art production in Zangskar and the regions in which it was in contact.


Rob Linrothe and Melissa Kerin, “Deconsecration and Discovery: The Art of Karsha’s Kadampa Chorten Revealed,” Orientations 32 no. 10 (2001): 52–63.

Jetsün Dragpa Gyaltsen, Clarifying the Meaning of The Arga and Consecration Rituals, trans. Yael Bentor (Kathmandu: Vajra Books, 2015): selected passages.


Rob Linrothe is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History at Northwestern University, Evanston. His research is mainly based on fieldwork in Ladakh and Zangskar. He earned a Ph. D. in Art History from the University of Chicago. In 2016–2017 Linrothe received a Senior Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies to do fieldwork in eastern India on 8th to 13th century sculpture in Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha.  His recent books are Seeing Into Stone: Pre-Buddhist Petroglyphs and Zangskar’s Early Inhabitants (2016); Visible Heritage: Essays on the Art and Architecture of Greater Ladakh, ed. Rob Linrothe and Heinrich Pöll; and Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and its Legacies (2015) (with contributions by Christian Luczanits and Melissa Kerin). Other recent publications include: “Noise Along the Network: A Set of Chinese Ming Embroidered Thangkas in the Indian Himalayas,” in Buddhist Encounters and Identities Across East Asia (2018); “‘Utterly False, Utterly Undeniable’: The Akaniṣṭha Shrine Murals of Takden Phuntsokling Monastery,” Archives of Asian Art (2017); “Donor Figures on 9th–12th Century Sculpture in Eastern India: A Progress Report.” Journal of Bengal Art 22 (2017); “Siddhas and Sociality:  A Seventeenth-Century Lay Illustrated Buddhist Manuscript in Kumik Village, Zangskar (A Preliminary Report)” In Visible Heritage (2016); “Mirror Image: Deity and Donor as Vajrasattva” in History of Religions (2014); and “Portraiture on the Periphery: Recognizing Changsem Sherab Zangpo,” Archives of Asian Art (2013).

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies

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Sponsor: Khyentse Foundation