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A Buddhist Temple at Sumboonath, 2 miles from Khatmandoo, date of erection unknown

A Buddhist Temple at Sumboonath, 2 miles from Khatmandoo, date of erection unknown

Photographer: Taylor, Clarence Comyn

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1863

Shelfmark: Photo 855/(13)

Item number: 85513

Length: 33.1

Width: 33.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the stupa of Swayambhunath near Kathmandu; part of a collection of albumen prints taken by Clarence Comyn Taylor between 1863-65, which constitute the earliest photographs of Nepal. Taylor, a soldier in the East India Company's army, was badly wounded in the Indian Uprising of 1857 and turned to Political Service, arriving in Kathmandu in 1863 as Assistant Resident. At this time the British had started a project to document the people and monuments of the Indian sub-continent using photography. Taylor fortuitously was a capable photographer and took images of Nepal for the Government of India. This photograph is described in Taylor's 'List of pictures' as, 'No XIII. A Buddhist Temple at Sumbhoonath distant about 2 miles from Khatmandoo. It is of great antiquity. Date of erection unknown. It exhibits well the three essential parts of a 'Chaitya' or mound temple namely, 1st the Hemisphere of solid base, or 'gurbh', 2nd the square Capital or 'Toran' surmounting the gurbh and having the oblong half-closed eyes of Buddha painted on each side of its four sides, 3rd the conical spire or 'chura-mani' which always consists of thirteen segments representing the 13 Buddhist heavans, the whole crowned with the gilt 'chuttra' on which rest the Kulsa lotus 'sur moor' joining a tapering pinnacle the point of which is conical like a flame and represents the 'Tok' or sacred light of Buddha. Temples and shrines in the foreground'. The great stupa of Swayambhunath is the most venerated Buddhist site in Nepal. It stands on Singum hill on the western outskirts of Kathmandu. The shrine is considered to be of great antiquity although historic records usually date it to the 4th century in the Licchavi period. The original structure has been restored and rebuilt several times and is surrounded by several other shrines and stupas. The main stupa is a whitewashed brick dome supporting a square gilded cube (harmika), which has a spire of 13 gilt rings ending in a parasol (chattri). The painted eyes on each side of the harmika may represent the all-seeing Buddha or the Lokapalas (guardians of the Cardinal Points).

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