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Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient
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New publication of Peter Skilling: “Precious Deposits: Buddhism Seen through Inscriptions in Early Southeast Asia”
28 MARCH 14
The LOST KINGDOMS: HINDU-BUDDHIST SCULPTURE OF EARLY SOUTHEAST ASIA is a new publication of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press. It will be accompanying the exhibition "Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century", a ground-breaking international loan exhibition devoted to the Hindu-Buddhist art of first-millennium Southeast Asia, in which numerous national treasures from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and first-ever loans from Myanmar will be displayed at the Tisch Galleries, Gallery 899, MET Museum, New York, from April 14 to July 27, 2014. 

In this fully illustrated book, comprehensive texts are contributed by Hiram Woodward, Robert Brown, Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Peter Skilling, Geoff Wade, Arlo Griffith, Pierre-Yves Manguin, Le Lien Thi, Pierre Baptiste, Berenice Bellini, Thierry Zephir, Stephen Murphy, Federico Caro, Donna Strahan and others with the editorial work of John Guy, who is also curator of the exhibition.

In the essay "Precious Deposits: Buddhism Seen through Inscriptions in Early Southeast Asia" of this new publication, Peter Skilling observes and interprets inscriptions from two main epigraphic zones, Pali and Sanskrit, along with art-objects and artifacts relative, in Souteast Asia. 

According to Skilling "Bhuddhist communities in Southeast Asia forged their own identities and developed their own practices and customs" as well as shared ritual cultures "including the mass production of clay images, the installation of sacred texts in stupas, and the cult of bodhisattvas" with those of India, Sri Lanka and East Asia.

From his point of view, the inscriptions in early Southeast Asia "reveal how Southeast Asian Buddhism developed its own face - its own many faces - during centuries of evolution over an ecologically, culturally, and linguistically vast and diverse region." And at the same time, "the region interacted within the wide network of trade and culturally exchange and participated with the rest of the Buddhist world as an equal partner in the production of Buddhist culture, adding new dimensions not witnessed in South Asia or China." 

*** Remark: The phrases between the inverted commas with italic characters are the excerpts from the author's essay.