As a follow up to Sacred Sites of Asia, TAASA’s popular Monday night lecture series this year, the
September TAASA Review is pleased to offer four articles which expand on some of the topics
Many readers will be familiar with the famous Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku) at the Buddhist temple
Rokuonji in Kyoto, but perhaps less aware that this pavilion was part of a very large complex.
‘Kitayama-dono’ constituted a sprawling temple-palace complex built by the warrior-aristocrat
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu on his retirement in the early 1400s. As Mathew Stavros recounts in his article,
the location and layout of Kitayama’s grounds can now be reconstructed with some precision through
his own detective work using old survey documents, current local place names and other textual and
John Miksic’s article on the great Mahayana Buddhist site of Borobudur in Java, Indonesia focuses
mainly on identifying the sources for the spectacular reliefs which curve in galleries around this
mountain monument. He describes how these reliefs provide detailed illustrations of six Sanskrit texts
about Buddhism, only identified by scholars over time in the 19 th and 20 th centuries.
A less well known group of temples is presented in Richard Barz’s article on the Hindu yogin?
temples of central and south India. These were dedicated to a class of demigoddesses whose worship
is the subject of some of the tantra scriptures. Only seven of at least 15 temples have survived, unique
because they are roofless and mainly round in structure. Richard points out that the three yogin?
temples he discusses are outstanding as structures, as art and as witnesses to a fascinating but little-
known ancient variety of Hinduism - and they deserve to be much more widely appreciated.
The final article in this issue based on the TAASA lecture series is Charlotte Galloway’s evocative
description of the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar: its history, structure, religious and
political significance. Unlike many of the other sites in the lecture series, this is a living and vibrant
sacred site busy with worshippers at all times of the day. And while it has often served as a focal point
for political protest, the Shwedagon remains an enduring sacred presence, where, as Charlotte puts it,
devotees will continue to visit for prayer and meditation, make offerings, and keep the structure in
Continuing the theme of sacred sites, Lucie Folan’s article on Jain pilgrimage traditions in India is
also concerned with living, active sacred sites. Pilgrimages to the five mountains now known as the
premier pilgrimage sites for ?vet?mbara M?rtip?jaks Jainism, one branch of the Jain religion mainly
in northwest India, is traditionally a way for Jains to express their religious devotion but many
devotees are unable to physically undertake such journeys. Lucie’s article explores the innovative role
of art and architecture - such as fixed or portable architectural structures, shrines, models, or two-
dimensional images - in providing surrogate ways in which all members of the communities can
access such sacred sites.
The remaining articles in this issue cover a range of other topics. Still in Southern Asia, Christina
Sumner shares her experiences of a recent trip to Kashmir, a journey which unsurprisingly focused on
the varied and remarkable textile traditions to be found there and in other parts of India that she
visited. Textiles, too, are discussed by Margaret White in her article on meisen, a new type of silk
fabric which defined modern Japanese kimono dress style in the first half of the 20th c. She recounts
her own ‘hands-on’ experience in creating meisen fabric at a workshop in Chichibu where a display of
meisen kimono can be found in its small museum.
The final article brings to our attention the rich repository of art in a range of media held by Artbank,
a government agency which has accumulated a comprehensive collection of approximately 11,000 art
works in Australia available for rental, the only one of its kind in the world. Courtney Kidd presents
some of the notable works in this collection from Asian Australian artists.
Rounding off this issue are three book reviews covering publications which will appeal to many
TAASA members. Matt Cox reviews the National Gallery of Singapore’s Living Pictures:
Photography in South Asia, a catalogue of its exhibition of the same name. Peter Hobbins reviews
Natali Pearson’s Belitung: The Afterlives of a Shipwreck and Melanie Eastburn presents The
Angkorian World, an exceptional cross-disciplinary resource by 52 leading experts in the field.
3 EDITORIAL - Josefa Green
4 KITAYAMA: BEYOND THE GOLDEN PAVILION - Matthew Stavros
7 BOROBUDUR’S RELIEFS: DEPICTING SANSKRIT BUDDHIST TEXTS - John Miksic
10. FEMININE POWER AND MASCULINE DESIRE: THE YOGIN? TEMPLES OF INDIA - Richard Barz
12 MYANMAR’S SHWEDAGON PAGODA - Charlotte Galloway
14 JAIN SACRED SITES AND SYMBOLIC PILGRIMAGE TRADITIONS - Lucie Folan
17 MEISEN SILK: A CANVAS FOR THE MODERN KIMONO - Margaret White
19 ARTBANK’s ASIAN AUSTRALIAN ARTIST COLLECTION - Courtney Kidd
21 TRAVELLER’S CHOICE: KASHMIR - Christina Sumner
23 BOOK REVIEW: LIVING PICTURES: PHOTOGRAPHY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA - Matt Cox
24 BOOK REVIEW: BELITUNG: THE AFTERLIVES OF A SHIPWRECK - Peter Hobbins
25 BOOK REVIEW: THE ANGKORIAN WORLD - Melanie Eastburn
26 TAASA COMMITTEE PROFILES: ELLY KENT AND JING HAN
27 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
29 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY: SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2023
30 WHAT’S ON: SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2023