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Posts by Emma Martin

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…

Hello from Rina – Volunteer from Japan

4 December 2007 by Emma Martin

For the next two weeks, Rina, a Japanese student studying English will be working in the Ethnology department at World Museum. We’re really pleased to have her here and we thought it would be nice for her to do a blog about what she is doing.

photo of a woman standing next to a Christmas tree

Rina with the tree in the museum foyer


My name is Rina. I am from Tokyo, Japan. I am working in this Museum as a work placement for a month. I usually do computer work and store objects, but my main purpose is to improve my English skills through my work. Read more…

Postcard from Puri

19 November 2007 by Emma Martin

low built, mud house with a straw roof, palm trees and a young boy looking at the camera

The home of Maashri

Today we travelled the 80km from Orissa’s state capital Bhubaneshwara to the coastal town of Puri, a major centre for Hindu pilgrimage and the home of one of the most distinctive Hindu Gods, Lord Jaganatha; a manifestation of Krishna.

Along the way we stopped at several rural villages, many known to me through the work of a friend Stephen Huyler, a cultural anthropologist who has worked in Orissa with Babu Mohapatra for over 30 years. It was a privilege to see the work of the potters who effortlessly create beautiful water pots and vessels for the Jaganatha temple in Puri. Having dabbled in potting myself I know just how difficult it is to create the pieces that they shape in a matter of seconds. Read more…

No Tigers at Similipal!

18 November 2007 by Emma Martin

colour photo taken at night showing a porcupine sniffing at something white on the ground

A rice-eating porcupine

As you might have guessed we didn’t see any tigers in Similipal National Park. However it was a beautiful place to be for a couple of days. We stayed in what was once the Maharaja’s hunting lodge (believe me it was not as glamorous as it sounds), which looked out over a clearing and a salt-lick in the otherwise dense forest. At dusk, a herd of spotted deer appeared where they settled for the night and while we didn’t see a tiger the deer obviously did, as with night falling anxious barks from the deer on watch alerted the herd to danger. In the absolute pitch black the barks rang out across the clearing, which sent shivers down my spine, and had me heading for the safety of the villa! Read more…

First Week in India

13 November 2007 by Emma Martin

colour photo of a man showing examples of his brightly coloured paintings on large scrolls.

Montu Chitrakar and his paintings

I have finally got round to writing up my first few days in India. Minhazz and I gave our keynote speech to the International Folk Art conference in Chandigarh last Thursday, which went well, despite a few technical hitches. We had a good response from the 50 curators and artists attending the conference, but what made the conference even more worthwhile was that several of the artists Minhazz and I are working with on the Collecting Contemporary India project for NML came to the conference to show their work. In the image you can see Montu Chitrakar, a well-known Bengali scroll painter singing the story relating to his communal violence (this is religious violence often between Hindu and Muslim extremistis) in India scroll. Read more…

A visit to India

30 October 2007 by Emma Martin

As I’m going to India at the end of the week I thought this would be a good time to write my first blog. Technology permitting I’m hoping to send in a few blogs while I’m away. As a quick introduction my name is Emma Martin and I’m Head of Ethnology and Curator of Asia collections based at World Museum. My trip is part-holiday, but also part-work as I’ll be presenting a paper on a contemporary collecting project I’m working on with colleagues in India and I’ll also be collecting new objects for the Weston Discovery Centre at World Museum. Read more…

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