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Posts by Emma Martin

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. Read more…

A simple guide to horse packing

25 June 2010 by Emma Martin

woman getting a large model horse out of a box

Getting Biscuit the horse ready for his photo opportunity!

Yes, you have read the title correctly! Here in the Ethnology department we are busily packing lots of objects ready for them to have their photographs taken, before they go on display in the Global City gallery of the Museum of Liverpool.

This isn’t always as easy as it sounds. One of the more tricky objects I’ve had today has been a large brightly decorated enamel horse, which is almost 1 metre long. The horse has a detachable mane (which looks a little bit like a toupe) and tail that all needed packing together to ensure it looks its best in front of the cameras. It turns out there is more than one way to pack a horse, but I decided on a nice simple solution of strapping the horse into a box, making sure it can’t move about while its being transported. You could say, it will be travelling in its own handmade horsebox. Read more…

Tibetan Protests in Kathmandu

19 August 2008 by Emma Martin

photograph of a the dalai Lama standing on a small table and surrounded by flowers

Offerings for the health of the 14th Dalai Lama at a local gompa

For anyone spending time with the Tibetan community here in Boudhanath it is impossible to ignore the ‘Tibet Question’. Around the stupa storeowners sell t-shirts emblazoned with the Tibetan flag (which is banned in China) and the slogans ‘Save Tibet’ or ‘Free Tibet’. Although Tibetans regularly protest against the Olympic Games and Chinese rule in Tibet, freedom of speech here is not unconditional. The Nepal government has banned performances of Tibetan dance and opera and institutes, monasteries and schools have been warned against participating in protests or speaking out against the Chinese government, as this could result in the closing or removal of the organisations. Read more…

An auspicious week

8 August 2008 by Emma Martin

Monks standing in a row holding scarves

Monks lining up to give khata and receive blessings from the Rinpoche

This week has been a particular special one for the Tibetans living here in Boudhanath.The weekend saw two very good days for gaining extra merit. It had been calculated that on Friday and Sunday just one good deed on these days would be worth 10 thousand, or on Sunday, 10 million good deeds! To take just one round of the stupa, give money to the needy or to just be nice to the people you know would be a very auspicious or fortunate thing to do. Read more…

Travelling to the Tibet border

28 July 2008 by Emma Martin

View down a heavily wooded gorge with river at base

The view from the bungee bridge

Last weekend marked the half way point of my time here in Kathmandu, Nepal. Not only was it my birthday, but it was also the school’s mid-term break.

A group of us took a trip to a resort 12km from the Tibetan border, to blow away a few cobwebs and try to forget about Tibetan verbs for a few days. The drive was arduous, taking over 5 hours along roads that only just clung to the mountainsides. As we got closer to the border there were more and more landslides, many of which would have been completely blocking the road only a few hours before we arrived. We gave our driver several rounds of applause as he got us over yet another slide. Read more…

Prayer Flags at Swayambhunath

16 July 2008 by Emma Martin

lots of rows of small, colourful flags

Prayer flags

On Sunday I went with my host Mother, Kalsang, to Swayambhunath, an important Buddhist site to the south of Kathmandu. Unlike Boudhanath, Swayambhunath sits on a hill overlooking the city, so for the first time in a few weeks I got to look up from my text books and have a really good look at the cityscape. Swayambhunath is affectionately known as the Monkey Temple, due to the many monkeys who live in and around the stupa. I’d been warned that these monkeys could be pretty mean and vicious, but the monsoon rains seemed to have dampened their spirits as they just watched as we climbed the steps to the smaller hill that sits to the west of the main stupa. This site holds a smaller shrine to Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, and while Kalsang had her reasons for visiting the shrine I also had high hopes that Saraswati would give me a little helping hand with my Tibetan studies. Read more…

Going back to school is Hard Work!

7 July 2008 by Emma Martin

street scene woth a red barrow, power links and blue awnings

My route to school with the stupa in the background

So, tomorrow I’ll start my third week at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute, where I’m studying the Tibetan language. Classes are really hard work, but although progress is slow, I was actually able to understand a little bit of a conversation I heard on the street today so something is sticking!

Here’s a little insight into my day.

I get up at 4.30am every day (weekends included) and go with my host Mother, Kalsang, to do Kora, which means to circumambulate (go clock-wise) around the large stupa at Boudhanath, which I showed you last week. I go for the exercise rather than to build up merit, but there is a good mix of people jogging, walking and prostrating at this time in the morning. After a hour taking the circuit, we meet up with Kalsang’s friends and go to a local tea shop for sweet tea or jhar and to catch up on the local gossip. The women talk quickly but I’m slowly picking up the odd words. Read more…

Tashi Delek from Nepal

23 June 2008 by Emma Martin

White, domed building with a colourful tower and multi-coloured bunting running off it.

Boudha stupa

Hello or Tashi Delek!

As some of you may know from the World Museum displays and the website pages, National Museums Liverpool has one of the great collections of Tibetan objects.

I’m here in Boudhanath, an area just outside Kathmandu, Nepal, which is home to a large Tibetan community. I’ll be living here in Boudhanath for the next two months with a Tibetan family, as I begin to learn the Tibetan language.

Over the next couple of months I be blogging about my classes at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, my (slow) progress with the language classes and about life here in Boudhanath. Read more…

A Bhutanese Stamp of Approval for NML

12 June 2008 by Emma Martin

Here’s one for all you philatelists (that’s stamp collectors to you and me) out there.

Bhutan, a beautiful Himalayan kingdom, is this year celebrating 100 years of monarchy. To celebrate Bhutan has just launched the first CD-Rom postage stamp.

Portrait of King and Queen of Bhutan

2nd King and Queen of Bhutan

You might be wondering how NML fits in to all this? Well, it just so happens that we have a really important collection of objects and photographs from Bhutan acquired by early 20th century Brtitish explorers and Political Officers based in the area. In this collection we have a rare photograph of the 2nd King of Bhutan, Jigme Wangchuk and his wife that you can see here. Read more…

Collections from the Islamic World

30 April 2008 by Emma Martin

Over the past six months staff and volunteers in the Ethnology department have been unpacking, re-storing, documenting and photographing NML’s little known Islamic collection.

This fascinating collection ranges from 12th century painted dishes from Iran, to 15th centruy pottery sherds from Fostat, an important trading centre in Egypt, to modern day tourist souvenirs. To whet your appetite here’s an image of a wonderful dish from 12th – 13th century Iran showing a huntsman riding his sturdy horse. Read more…

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