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Swat’s Uddiyana Kingdom

EXPLORING THE VALLEY OF SWAT once known as the Switzerland of the east…..
in Pakistan

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Swat District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan has a history of over 2000 years, with Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic kingdoms and most recently the Taliban.

High mountains, clear lakes and green meadows are attractive not only to tourists. The Valley of Swat is said to have had over one thousand stupas and monasteries – today we now know of about 400 Buddhist sites – most frequently associated with Gandharan and Kushan art. A group of women trekkers, some from Swat University visited sites in March 2017 – that saw the times of Alexander the Great, the Kushan empire and Ashoka (Mauryan empire) – one of the earlier followers of Buddha.

Can we still go there to visit??

Cheers,

Elisabeth

(top photo from Buddhist Art News)

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RESTORING MEDIEVAL BUDDHIST SHRINES IN NEPAL’S HIMALAYAS

In this photograph taken on June 15, 2016 Nepalese artist Tsewang Jigme….restores  sacred murals…..in the remote Upper Mustang region.

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In Nepal’s  Upper Mustang region, once part of the Buddhist kingdom of Mustang high on the Tibetan plateau, the artist  Tsewang  Jigme works on the restoration of antique murals. It is said that murals in some temples in this area predate the oldest temples in Tibet.  But neglect, wind, rain and smoke have turned the bright frescoes into black. Many of these shrines survived the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s and the earthquake of  April 2015.
Read this article to see how the restoration of these sacred murals is making progress in the 21st century: http://www.mysinchew.com/node/114954?tid=
Cheers,
Elisabeth and Natasha

NEW DISCOVERY IN PAKISTAN DATING BACK TO MAURYAN AND KUSHAN DYNASTIES IN SWAT, PAKISTAN

Archeologists excavated in April and June of 2016 layers  of cities associated with  Indo-Greek, Mauryan and Kushan cultures.
Mauryan settlements dating to the third century BC – think of the great Mauryan king Ashoka, the  grandson of the founder of the dynasty who vigorously promoted Buddhism among other things with carved edicts  on pillars of stone and wood from Bengal  to Afghanistan.  Some of us have admired the great lion capital in Sarnath from a time when episodes  and symbols from Buddha’s life  were portrayed – in this case the lotus and the wheel of law – instead of the later  presentations of Buddha  – seen first in the arts of Gandharan and Mathura.
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Archeologists also excavated a large temple with four pillars belonging to the Kushan era, 2nd century BC to second century AD. The Kushans dominated the areas of the Hindu Kush into Kabul, Gandhara, northern Pakistan and north-western India. They controlled the trade between China in the east and the Romans in the west. Under the famous Kushan ruler Kanishka ( 144 to 172 AD) Buddhist settlements flourished including Gandhara with its distinctive Graeco – Buddhist art form that influenced the arts in Central Asia and then China.
I first read about this discovery in Buddhist Art News:
Cheers,
Elisabeth and Natasha

ANCIENT BUDDHIST CARVING EXCAVATED IN THE SWAT VALLEY IN PAKISTAN

I do not want to disclose the exact location  — we do not need any more obliterations of Buddhist sculptures — but carvings dating back some 1700 years have been found in the remains of an old shrine. The fragment shows  what is known as The Great Departure  — the historical Prince Siddhartha leaving his palace in Kapilavastu venturing outside the castle confines to experience suffering and eventually attain enlightenment  to become Gautama Buddha.

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Cheers,
Elisabeth and Natasha