Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Romita Ray, Associate Professor
Jeehee Hong, Assistant Professor
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Arts and Humanities | History
Originating in India, Buddhism has spread throughout the world, eventually developing into two main branches known as Theravada and Mayahana. Within these two branches, Buddhism has further diversified its teachings with the establishment of numerous schools, each promoting their own sutras with different approaches to enlightenment. One such sect is Tibetan Buddhism, which has disseminated beyond the political boundaries of Tibet, promoting its teachings in parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim. Sikkimese monastic structures evolved from and within the practice of Tibetan Buddhism, while simultaneously incorporating the indigenous living cultures of the Sikkimese local people. The royal monastery of Tsuklakhang, located in the capital city of Sikkim and built in the 1920s, provides an ideal example of a Sikkimese monastery that incorporates both the traditions of Buddhism and Sikkim.
My Capstone Project focuses on the surviving Buddhist jewel of Tsuklakhang by locating this unique architectural complex within the broader realm of Buddhism while simultaneously addressing regional Lamaist influences. With the generous funding of the Renée Crown Honors program’s Wise-Marcus Award, the vast majority of my research was conducted and obtained during a three-week visit to Sikkim. While in the capital city of Gangtok, I documented the complex functions of the royal monastery as well as their impact on contemporary Sikkimese society. Further, a London-based photographer, Xavier Rashid, and I specifically photographed and researched the iconography embedded within the interior wall murals of Tsuklakhang’s main temple. Centered around fifteen carefully selected images of the murals, my thesis overall discusses multiple aspects of Tsuklakhang, focusing on monastic structure, symbolic wall murals, and Buddhist and indigenous festivals. The royal monastery of Tsuklakhang ultimately illuminates art historical traditions and culture within this remote Indian state of Sikkim.
James, Katharine Louise, "The Royal Monastery of Tsuklakhang – A Buddhist Jewel" (2012). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 125.
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