Researching Liverpool’s Tibet collection

23 September 2010 by Emma Martin

A pale brick built building with steps leading up the entrance. Its pagaoda style roof is decorated with gilt Tibetan Buddhist embelms

The Norbulingka, near Dharamsala

Tomorrow, I fly to New Delhi, India… no, not to take part in the Commonwealth Games, but to begin nine week’s of fieldwork which, should result in new research relating to Liverpool’s Tibet collections. Although, I’m the full time Head of Ethnology here at World Museum, I’m also currently undertaking a part-time PhD at the School of Oriental and Africa Studies (SOAS), University of London and so I’m taking time away from the museum to carry out my PhD fieldwork.

I will spend time working through colonial archives and talking to Tibetan historians in Delhi, Dharamsala and Sikkim to learn more about the Tibetan and Sikkimese men who worked with Sir Charles Bell, a man who collected several hundred objects and photographs when he lived and worked on the Tibetan frontiers with India in the early 20th century.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and you can also catch me during, what we hope will be, a live video link with the Treasure House Theatre, at World Museum on November 11th.

Here’s a small taster of what to expect as I make my way across India. This is the Norbulingka, a Tibetan monastery and centre for the teaching and preservation of traditional Tibetan arts, based just outside Dharamsala. I’ll be making a visit here as World Museum has in the past commissioned works of art from the centre.

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