Tibetan Pilgrimage Guides to Bhaktapur

An Image of Dīpaṃkara Buddha Manifesting as Speaking Tārā

  • Andrea Wollein
Keywords: Buddhism, Kathmandu Valley, Newar, shrine image, deity


This paper explores the phenomenon of a single devotional image identified with multiple deities by drawing from both premodern and modern Tibetan guidebook literature and ethnographic work. It engages the Tibetan-Newar Buddhist interface in the Kathmandu Valley with a focus on the Mūl Dīpaṃkara Buddha of Bhaktapur (alias Speaking Tārā, Sgrol ma gsung byon). The essay provides the first chronology of relevant literature and traces what has historically been of interest to Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims in Bhaktapur. The contemporary Dīpaṃkara/Speaking Tārā identification appears to supervene an older conflation occurring until the 18th century, when Tibetan pilgrims identified the Hindu Tantric goddess Taleju, the tutelary deity of the Malla kings who resides in Bhaktapur’s Royal Palace, as Speaking Tārā. The paper offers a preliminary investigation of this development and reflects on spatialized shifts in Tibetan pilgrimage practices.

How to Cite
Wollein, A. (2022). Tibetan Pilgrimage Guides to Bhaktapur. HIMALAYA - The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 41(2), 54-69. https://doi.org/10.2218/himalaya.2022.7429
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