Asian Arts
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Asian Arts
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These are some of the letters received by Asian Arts through the middle of December 1995, when we switched to our Letter Board. If you have the time, we would be happy if you could fill out our Survey Form.

December 4, 1995

I did have some trouble with the e-mail address given, but that may have been due to internal problems with the campus network. The graphics were absolutely marvelous!!! I was absolutely overwelmed. I have been looking for any information that was available on Mongolia, especially in the areas of culture and art, and was having great difficulty. I had near heart-failure when I found your net site. I am starting to save now in hopes that I will be able to attended the show when it reaches Washington D.C. I am already in the process of ordering one of the catalogs from the show on the west coast.

Thank you!


Nov. 17, 1995

Greetings from Kalamazoo! My name is Miho Aishima and I am currently a senior at Kalamazoo College. I am trying to find research materials on the subject of apprenticeships, master-pupil relationships in the Japanese arts. I was writing to see if you had any information or knew of sources to contact. If you do, please reply.

My email addresss is [email protected]

Thank you!


November 14, 1995

I think Asian Arts is very well designed, providing lots of information that is well laid-out, without becoming confusing to navigate around in.

The quality of the graphics could be better, but I imagine most of the problem lies in the PC I'm accessing the Web from, rather than the actual quality of cyber-graphics. However, they are definitely clear enough to see.

Being a student of Asian art history, I am hoping to be able to use Websites to supplement my own studies. So I was extremely excited to stumble accross this site! The format and content are great, very useful, and especially helpful in regards to information about Tibetan and Mongolian arts, which seem to be more obscure than other Asian arts. However, it would be an improvement to see some articles on other arts of Asia as well, including articles on Korean and Southeast Asian arts, Indonesian arts, and Philipine arts. More variety please. In the meantime, though, keep up the good work and the great site!

October 20, 1995

I live in Taiwan and collect antique Chinese furniture. Most of the pieces I have originate from mainland China and are made of elm wood, although I still look for better Taiwanese pieces. I would be interested in corresponding with others that are interested in the area of antique Chinese provincial furniture. I can be reached through my e-mail address given below.

Thank you.

Sept. 13 1995

I am currently an undergraduate student of the University of Queensland (Australia), researching on the subject of Women artists in China. I have had difficulty in obtaining information regarding this topic in Australia as an Undergraduate. If you know of any Websites or other sources that would be of interest to me, please email me on [email protected]

Thanks in advance,

Mon, 11 Sep 1995

Namaste, Greetings.

My name is Michael Doliveck and I am applying for a Fulbright Student Fellowship to India for 1996. I am a graduate student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, U.S.A. I am also an artist who works in stone and bronze.

You can view my portfolio including photographs of my work on The World Wide Web at: This site will be available only from Friday, September 15, 1995.

I have studied bronze casting in some of the finest founderies in The United States and Europe. This type of casting requires huge machinery and copious amounts of electricity. I am completely in awe of the genius of the people of India that have been doing metal casting without these huge machines since 5000 B.C.!

I have studied India, its cultures, some of its languages (Hindi and Urdu), religions, and its arts for several years in hopes that If I could travel to India this knowledge would help me in my research.

I want to come to India to research these methods, document them, and perhaps share some of the techniques I have learned. I have given lectures and demonstrations in bronze casting and stone carving at several schools and universities in The United States. I would be more than happy to share my knowledge and my research documentation with interested parties. I would also be more than happy to assist the host affiliation with teaching, demonstrating, developing archives, developing computer links and sites, or in any other way I am able.

I would also like to help Indian artists and artisans establish connections with galleries, collectors, curators or other interested groups in The U.S., Belgium, Italy, or Germany.

I am seeking an official affiliation with an educational or artistic institution in India. As part of my application, I need a letter of invitation from an institution that would offer to act as my host while in India. This affiliation would not financially obligate the host institution because my Fulbright Fellowship would cover my expenses.

I must submit my application before October 1st, 1995, and would greatly appreciate receiving an invitation prior to that date. My chances of winning the fellowship would be greatly enhanced if an affiliation can be arranged in the next few weeks.

I would greatly appreciate any assistance or information you might have for me.

Thank you very much for your time. Respectfully submitted,

Thu, 31 Aug 95

Dear Ian,

Awesome! I'm down at Mercantile checking out my Gallery and it's fantastic. Reading published articles and getting a chuckle at the question, is the net worthy or not. Are they kidding or what! I now have access to articles of interest to me and it's interactive as well. Sorry, but I just don't have the time nor resources to fly around the world and attend exhibitons and the format you provide makes it easier to write, publish and gives access to people like myself who have been isolated until now. I'm trying to get a few people together for a multiple user account for an email address for Indigo. Stay tuned being the 'Gear Wallah' that I am you will be hearing from me in the Future.


From the editor:
Aug 31, 1995

How exciting to receive our first form dump executed from Kathmandu Nepal, where Mercantile Office Systems (email [email protected]) has achieved the first true Internet link. Although hampered by lack of phone lines and a very small bandwidth that does not permit PPP connections, the Mercantile connection does offer shell access to the World Wide Web via (groan!) text browsers; but anything is better than nothing, and it is an amazing feat. When I was in Kathmandu in late July, I had the amazing experience of seeing Asian Arts on-line on Durbar Marg (at the Mercantile office, where visitors can demo Netscape and the World Wide Web.)

James Giambrone is owner of Indigo, our latest Gallery, featuring fine contemporary works of traditional Nepalese painting and sculpture. His Gallery was rushed to the site when we learned that Jeff Greenwald of HotWired wrote a piece about the Net and Kathmandu that mentioned Indigo with a link to Asian Arts. Many visitors over the past week have been travelling in from this article in Hotwired.

August 21, 1995


There I was faced with the prospect of helping to break in a website dedicated to Asian art . It was Santa Fe on line with a request to post a brief article, any topic, but quick. Having just returned from a visit to a "hidden valley" in the himalayas, I took the bait. On the trek I had come across a small fragment probably early Thakuri, possibly late Lichhavi. But really I preferred to spend my time on the West Tibetan material I had been working on for several months....not to speak of my "day job".

So, ok, this will be fun. I slap out a short report with a photo or two. (See An Early stone fragment in Central Nepal by Thomas Pritzker.)

The site goes up and immediately Mary Slusser's in with a query (see below, April 24) Is this technology healthy? What does it add to the process? Will people take the same time to vet their work? Interesting, I remember thinking, but perhaps that's not the end of the analysis of the dynamics of our future in cyberspace.

Well, here I am to acknowledge and correct an error in my report. It was first pointed out by my friend and trekking companion Pam. We had found the stone fragment in a house by a village bath along the Buri Gandaki, just below Arughat. My report put that "west of Gorkha". I now have to make a public admission. While I was in away they changed Arughat's location. Arughat is now east of Gorkha. The report has now been corrected.

...But Mary, unlike print, the net provided a most elegant and effortless solution to correcting the mistake. By the time you finish this note, the brief will have been modified in perpetuity.

Sun, 6 Aug 95

With ref. to your article about the "Licchavi caityas: The Empty Niches" (Licchavi Caityas of Nepal: A Solution to the Empty Niche by Ian Alsop), your theory looks much more realistic and accurate than that of Wiesner or that of the Muslim incursion. But is there any other physical evidence inside the niche, besides the undamaged carving, such as a mortise, which can substantiate your theory? Also, was the Pritzker Buddha removed from its gilt niche to be placed in the stone niche at the time of worship or was it placed in the stone niche together with its decorative gilt niche?

The author replies:

Thank you for your note about the caitya niche article. In fact, most of the niches that I have examined do not have a mortise or any other evidence of a fastening system. I feel that the Pritzker Buddha was probably inserted into a niche along with its repousse case. As Mary Slusser points out in a letter below, this is in fact "gilding the lily", since most of the niches themselves are decorated, often with motifs very similar to the little Buddha's repousse case. I can ony surmise that this small Buddha with its case was designed to fit inside a somehwat less decorated niche, or at least, a niche where the decoration would not duplicate the design of the case.

27 Aug 95

Thank you for your reply. Would there be on the surface of the niches any evidence of "rubbing" that could attest the inserting and pulling out of the statue?

the author replies:
Aug 31 95

There really is no particular sign of rubbing. I think that many of the caityas lost their cult status, or those resposible for maintaining the cult may have eventually lost the inserts, so that in fact many of these caityas may well have been "unused" for centuries.

Mon, 24 July

I would like to see an informative database with an accessory list of shows and events world wide and a series of curated events presented in an interesting and coherent format. Guest curators could be a good alternative for a democratic Web Site.

Sun, 23 July

Subject: Thailand Spirit Houses
I am interested in finding photographs of Thailand Spirit Houses. Could you please E-mail me and let me know if and where I might find them.

Thurs, 13 Jul

Subject: Sammasati (Samyasmrti)
Can you (or anyone else) identify any literature containing detailed discussion about the meaning of this seventh noble path.

Tues, 4 Jul

I would like to chat with other knowledgeable enthusiasts about Chinese Porcelain

Fri, 30 Jun

I would like to see more graphics especially on Chinese jade. I am a collector of Chinese archaic jade and hope to learn more about this subject on this site.

Sat, 17 Jun

Asian Arts is a huge topic. Perhaps you could offer links (http and ftp) to specific styles or countries. I am learning about Chinese ceramics of the Ming, Ching and Sung Dynasties. I am also interested in Burmese and Vietnamese Ceramics. Yet as a neophyte to the Internet I am having some difficulty locating information. I would like to download an article, "How to research Asian Arts on the Internet" if you ever write something like that. I did make use of your links to find an expert on Ming ceramics. Many of the books I have are written in Chinese, and I am going to download some lessons in Chinese and software to set my machine up to display those characters. Just knowing more about what I have already collected is my immediate goal. I do like your Asian Arts and come back here frequently. Thanks for being on the WWW

reply from Asian Arts:
Dear M. Allen,

Thank you for you very cogent note on links, which I will be posting on the letters section today. I think you are absolutely right about the importance of links in a site such as Asian Arts, and we will be attempting to make our Other Asian Art Sources page more rational, complete and easy-to-use within the next ten days. I believe we will begin to separate the page according to region and type of site (commercial, institutional, educational, etc). If you have any specific suggestions, including sites you have found that you would like to see us link, please let us know.


Ian Alsop

Fri, 16 Jun 95

I just wanted to thank you for having such a rich trove available for browsing. I typically read significant sites like yours offline, but as I work through the catalogs & essays you've made available I find that I am learning as much about the possibilities of the medium as I am about Asian Art. Given the warehouse approach of many websites, I'm impressed with the care you've taken as you've thought about your page as an experience browsers will have rather than simply as a technological machine to get up and running. I certainly intend to recommend your site to those who share my interest in Asian materials. Many thanks for the care and energy that has gone into making your material available to us all.

Thu, 15 Jun

Excellent formatting! No difficulties with the design, it's the best I've seen. Excellent graphics. Thumbnails could be 10%-20% larger. I'm working on image database formatting. You might want to look at a virtual gallery project that I'm working on. {editors's note: use the back key to return to Asian Arts}


Sun, 11 Jun

Thanks for lucid explanation of a little-noted art form (Tsakli, by Juan Li). I'm doing research in this area (ritual art forms/talismans) and I appreciate your making this material available. Wish I could see the pictures!

thanks again,

Mon, 5 Jun 95

I think this is one of the best sites on the web. This is really, really a wonderful site. Can't wait to see more! Especially look forward to more Tibetan exhibits.

Thu, 1 Jun 95

My name is Brad Wheeler and I am interested in any material you may have regarding Tibetan sandpaintings. I am currently working on a paper comparing and contrasting the cultural similarites between Navjo cultures of the southwest and these Tibetan sandpaintings.

Thu, 1 Jun 95

I am looking for any information regarding the 1921 Chicago Exhibition of NIPPON BIJUTSUIN (JAPANESE ART ACADEMY). We think the exhibition was held in July or August but we are not sure. The information can be documents or rememberances.

Thank you,

Thu, 1 Jun 95

Thank you for your interesting article 'Notes on a Taglung Portrait'. I will hopefully revisit your site to read many more things.

The intelligent way in which you have implemented footnotes in a html-document is in my opinion a good example of how links within one and the same text can be used to navigate a document.

Kind regards from Amsterdam, the Netherlands,

26 May 95

Dear Mr. Pritzker,

With reference to your article "Early Nepal Fragment", the crossed arms denoting the attitude of submission (vinayahasta) is also descibed by P. Pal in The Arts of Nepal - Sculpture (Brill, 1974) in reference to a 7th. c. Licchavi Caitya in Kathmandu with one of the faces containing Vajrapani. Beneath his hand stands his crossed-arms attendant with the vajra emerging from his head (p. 27 & fig. 13 & 14). P. Pal also mentions an 11th. cent. Indra with a crossed-arms attendant, then kept at the Doris Wiener Gallery (fig. 247, ibid.)

There are also a crossed arms copper figure attending an 8th c. Vajarapani formerly at the Pan-Asian Coll. and a 10th. c. copper Vajapurusha at the LACM (Harry Kahn) with crossed arms (fig 23 & 24) P. Pal, Nepal, Where the Gods are Young, The Asia Society 1975.

Would it be far-fetched to assume that this crossed arms attitude characterizes Vajrapurusha, the personified form of the Vajra as he seems to be associated with Vajrapani- Indra? i.e. that each time we find a crossed arms figure it is probably Vajrapurusha.

Could you indicate to me where Stella Kramrisch mentioned a crossed arms figure denoting the attitude of submission?

In reply:
Dear Editor,
Mr. Sliwka is correct in citing Pal's reference to Vajrapurusha. I used Kramrisch because she was earlier and prettier than Dr. Pal. Her comments can be found on page 129 of The Art of Nepal which is Kramrisch's exhibition catalogue from her show at the Asia House Gallery in 1964.

Mr. Sliwka is no doubt correct in his assumption that the crossed-arms attitude is typical of Vajrapurusha.

April 24, 1995

Dear Ian,

My office computer has not been hooked up to enable me to access the address you gave but through Chris Maine, the computer expert at the museums, I have finally had a look at Asian Arts. Since I was tying up Chris' computer, I did not study the layout much nor more than glance at the table of contents but the illustrations in color looked great and I did get a printout of your paper.

What to say? What does this kind of publication accomplish that "traditional" outlets do not? Faster, sure, but for the caitya article what was the rush? You've only had that image for a decade! Does the article "stay" on the Internet forever? Or is it ephemeral? Maybe I just can't make the leap into this brave new world you propose, or at least I need more convincing. Want to try?

If the Pritzer piece was introduced into a niche that already had its elaborate carved stone surround, why would it replicate that in metal inside the niche? It seems to me that that is painting the lily and that such a surround would not be necessary. Just a small figure like the ones you illustrate in later figures would be more logical but there is certainly no evidence in the niches themselves for any attachment such as some of the figures show.

You note in para 3 that the "niches are carefully carved out" but that is not true for many of them. The rough and "hacked" surface of some of the interiors is why Wiesner believes images were chiseled out. I think we still don't know why many of them are so crude compared to the perfection of the rest of the caitya. If metal ones were only for periodic use, then most of the time the caityas stood (and were worshiped) with the adorant looking at these rough, empty niches. I think Weisner is wrong, I don't believe anybody took time and patience to remove stone images, but I am not convinced by your article that we still have the answer. I just wish one of these caityas would speak up! (My overall impression of the "paper" (what does one call it?) is that it does not reflect the care you would give a paper that you wrote for traditional publishing.)

I am off to Vietnam to see what the country looks like after so many decades, back end of May. Maybe we can continue this by E-mail.


The editor's reply:

May 26, 1995

Dear Mary,

I enjoyed your reaction to Asian Arts; I didn't expect you to fall in love with this new medium, as both of us in a sense are suspicious of these machines, but both of us I think have become perhaps reluctant admirers, since they are so useful. As to what this kind of publication accomplishes that traditional outlets do not, the answer is severalfold:

1. Material can be published without the very high costs of production that traditional print outlets demand. Asian Arts is being published out of our relatively small office downtown, with no advanced machinery other than our (admittedly quite advanced) computers. No paper, no tree-cutting, no ink, no distribution, etc.

2. Distribution is literally world wide. Anywhere there is a computer with a connection to the Internet, the material is there.

3. Distribution is instantaneous. Once the material is in the shape I want to see it in, I can post it on the site within minutes, where it becomes accessible to everyone. As a corollary, updates are possible, and corrections; repeating the sense of power we first had using word processors when we saw we didn't need to retype everything to make a correction to a paper.

4. Perhaps most important, but only apparent after spending a bit of time on the Web, documents can be linked to each other. This means that, if I want to refer to another document, I can send you to that document directly, rather than just citing it. The power of this feature will only come to the fore when there is more material available, but I think eventually it will revolutionize the way we learn and study

5. The Web is potentially interactive, meaning that scholars widely separated by space can interact with each other (I am in the process of setting up a "chat" page on Asian Arts) without incurring the high expense of fax or phone. Controversial points can be explored at length with proposition and counter-proposition. I hope to achieve this with a "forum" page, where certain distinct points will be discussed, with scholars and aficionados submitted their points of view. The forum I would like to set up first would address the proposition that the Indian tradition did not have "thankas" or "paubhas", that is rolled painted icons. Jane Singer, who is "con" this position (while I am "pro") may moderate this particular forum. Anyone who wishes to have a say can write their piece and, importantly, can include photographs or images to support their argument. All the material can be published in sequence, so that various points of view can be expressed in a single "forum" article.

Regarding the permanence of the material, this is of some concern. On Asian Arts our solution for the moment is that we will keep all of the material on-line in so far as this is possible. We are planning to eventually archive a year's production in a CD. Certainly, we do want to have some way to distribute the material once it has been brought down from the site. And of course, any visitor with a printer can print and save any article of interest.

Regarding your comments on my article, I confess I had some of the same thoughts you had, and perhaps should have mentioned them in the article itself; particularly your point about the duplication of the niche decoration being somewhat illogical, something I have also thought of.

As far as the technique in carving out the niches, I disagree that any of the caityas I have seen are really rough and "hacked"; they are, its true, less refined than the finished surface of the stone of the caitya itself, but they do not appear to me to be hacked, just unfinished, resembling most closely the rear of a stone stele. I do believe that if, as Weisner maintains, forces hostile to Buddhism hacked out images from the niches, they would be even rougher than they are, and surely some would have suffered damage to the niche surrounds, etc., which is not evident.

I do agree that my article is somewhat less polished and careful than it might have been had I written it for print; that of course is my fault; I can only plead that I was eager to get the next edition on-line. And of course, the article is updatable.

Mary, the questions you raise are of such interest that I would very much like to post your letter and my reply on the site. Will you give me permission to do so. I propose posting them in two sections, one on the Internet and one on my article. I hope you will agree, as I am just starting to post letters and these are quite substantive.



May 25, 1995

What a wonderful page to discover on the World Wide Web! I am studying to be an elementary school teacher and this great information should help me to work out a multicultural curriculum for the kids. Thanks and keep up the good work.

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