Culture is the continuation of human life. It concerns the legacy of human beings and their community identity. Each community in the world aims to preserve its own culture and associated elements to hand them over as a gift to the next generation in the same way their predecessors had done before them. The Oriental Cultural Heriatage Sites Protection Alliance (OCHSPA) has been working on cultural heritage and its related identify in various parts of Asia since its establishment. It is indeed a great endeavour to conduct projects preserving disappearing oriented cultural heritage. This book published by the OCHPSA, consist of a articles by various authors from Nepal and abroad. These authors's diversity of knowledge and expertise provide a variety of approaches and analysis on the subject of Nepal's cultural heritage before and after the 2015 earthquakes. It is hoped that the various methodologies implemented or recommended for rescuing and reconstructing will be widely circulated following this publication and benefit other sites that may be affected in the future elsewhere in the world. I wish to commend the Oriental Cultural Heriatage Sites Alliance (OSHSPA) for its support and efforts in promoting the cultural heritage of Nepal Worldwide.
Nepal is renowned and recognized as one of the world's largest clusters of heritage sites. Cultural tourism draws several hundred thousand international visitors a years to Nepal and contributes to significantly to the economy of this developing nation.
The two devasting earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May 2015 severly damaged thousands of monuments and cultural sites in the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding districts. Within Kathmandu's seven World Heritage Zones alone, more than 100 temples, stupas monasteries, royal palaces and private men and women could be seen standing on the ruins of temples digging vigorously in the dirt and rubble with bare hands.
UNESCO immediately took the lead in supporting the laid the Government of Nepal in the its post – disaster emergency efforts. In close cooperation with the Department of Archaelogy (DoA), national and international assistance was coordinated.
UNESCO instantly launched the damage assement and laid the groundwork in the cultural heritage cluster of the Post disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which was useful for fundraising purpose. It also supported emergency consolidation and protection of monuments in Swayambunath, Hanumandhoka, Changu Narayan and Sankhu, Data from more than 1,300 monument, sattle, shrines and historic houses were collected, geo – located and will be incorporated into the future database system of the DOA.
A team of international and national experts is currently undertaking archaeological explorations, in order to better understand the nature of the monuments and their foundations. The objective is to rebuild better in Nepal.
The reconstruction of the collapsed monuments also aims at strengthening the institutional capacity of the DOA through on the job trainings, which will contribute to the rehabilitation of local economics by generating employment opportunities for local communities.
The symposium organised on 11 June 2014 by the Oriental Heritage Sites Protection Alliance consttitues a landmark in the multidisciplinary approach to the conservation of Nepal's heritage. As rightly stated by the eminent scholar Corneille Jest during the final round table, this was the first time such a symposium was organised in France.
Renowned professionals and young researchers presented papers on various topics such as the heritage of Lo Mathang, the Long term- conservation of Lumbini, as well as the art, architecture and urbanism characterizing the Kathmandu Valley. Now, that the same group of experts is contributing to the present book and adapting their subjects to the post- earthquake situation.
Although the symposium took place before the earthquakes hit Nepal, I am convinced that this timely publication will contribute to provide crucial knowledge to rebuild and renew the Nepelese cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, and garner international support to restore Nepal's culture sector.
Etienne Mathieu & Marielle Richon Etienne Mathieu President of the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance (OSCHPA) & Marielle Richon (OCHSPA Project Leader for Nepal).
The Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites protection (OCHSPA, in short " The Alliance"), with its key objectives in protect the fragile cultural heritage all over Asia, was founded in 2008 in Paris, France, with operational offices in Shanghai and Taipei. It works closely with UNESCO World Heritage Center, UNESCO New Delhi Office and Unesco Kathmandu Office as well as with Europeon and Asian Universities and research centres for oriental cultural heritage sites protection.
Since its creation, the Alliance has achieved numerous restoration projects, held several symposiums and published many books in several countries in Asia. We have worked on cultural heritage issues specially in Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Over the last few years with partners in Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, we have provided some financial support for several projects including:
i. Different project about preservation of Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha in Nepal.
ii. Some studies and training sessions on Lo Mantang, the walled city in Mustang, Nepal.
iii. Several projects in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal concerned with the preservation of cultural heritage.
iv. Different projects in Bhutan concerned with the heritage and cultural landscape of the country.
v. One project about Buddhist site preservation in Sri Lanka.
In Nepal, the Alliance orgnised a first emblematic event – an international symposium – in Kathmandu in November 2013 on "Safeguarding Lo Manthang and the Cultural Landscape of Upper Mustang". At the same time, the alliance also launched two publications in partnership with UNESCO: the first one entitled "Lumbini" Birthplace of Buddha and the second " The Sacred Garden of Lumbini, Perceptions of Buddha's birthplace" at the Patan Museum. In april 2014 two Alliance representative travelled for the first time to Lo Manthang, Upper Mustang with a group of international experts and Nepalese students. The mission was organised in partnershiped with Himal Asia And consisted in assessing the needs of the Loba community with regard to its cultural heritage. In November 2014 a workshop was organised by the allienced in Patan, Kathmandu with young Loba and students from Tribhuvan University, Khwopa Colleges and Lumbini Buddhist University. Altogether the group of 20 youth set up four the teams, all led by loba students to design four grassroots projects for the Loba community. These four projects were designed in order to be implemental in Lo Manthang by their respective teams in the course of spring 2015 under the leadership of Nepalese experts. A workshop was organised by Himal Asia with the support of the Alliance in Bhaktpur, Kathmandu, in March 2015 on technical aspects of traditional Nepalese architecture.
Itum Baha, located in the heart of Kathmandu in rapidly developing area north of the Kathmandu Darbar Square is regarded as one of the five principal monasteries of Kathmandu with its ritual importance in Newer Buddhism its wealth of early woodcarving, and its architectural configuration which dates to the 13th centuary. Since 2013, the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance has provided financial support to the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust and the Keshachandra Mahavihara Conservation Society of Itumbaha for the restoration of the remaining principal east wing. This restoration effort includes the rebuilding of all dilapidated masonry walls. Roof reconstruction using traditional tiles, and carved timber elements conservation employing structural strengthening. The restoration work is supposed to be completed in late 2016 or early 2017.
Due to the two major earthquakes that hit Nepal on 25 April and 5 May 2015 the Alliance had to stop its activities until early 2016.
In order for the Alliance to continue its action in Nepal it was decided to publish this book despite the chaotic post – earthquake period. Most of the authors of this book also contributed to the three event Alliance organised in June 2014 and January 2016 about Nepali heritage in Paris (International Conference about the Nepal art and cultural heritage, co – organised with Creops of Paris – Sorbonne University in INHA. Paris in June 2014; the the Lumbini Photo Exhibition in June 2014 and a smaller seminar about heritage eight months after the earthquakes in January 2016, both events was an act of solidarity with the Nepelese people in times of sorrow and reconstruction. What was in existence will certainly never be the same after reconstruction. One may rightly hope that despite the casualties there are positive aspects in this tragedy. This comprises the transmission of traditional building techniques to younger generations and exacavations of the foundations of destroyed temples for the first time in history.
In 2016 the Alliance sent two experts, one from France and the other from Nepal to Lo Manthang in order to assist the Department of Archaeology. The mission included public meetings with the Loba community and allowed the first steps of implements of a participatory inventory by Loba representatives.
As President of the Alliance and Project Leader for Nepal, it is our privilege to present this publication which provides a wide panorama of Nepal's cultural heritage such as Kathmandu Valley, Lumbini and Lo Manthang to name a few. We hope that you will find this book useful and informative. We now look forward to new challenging projects in Nepal.
During the two devasting earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May 2015, thousands of monuments and cultured sites in the Kathmandu Valley and Surrounding districts were severly damaged. Since then, the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance (OCHSPA, hereafter Alliance), a non –governmental orgnisation (NGO), an intergovernmental organization (UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris Headquarters together with its Kathmandu Office) and an academic institution (Center for Asian art studies, University Paris 4 – Sorbonne, hereafter named CREOPS) have joined forces to help Nepal. Together, they aim to find an appropriate way to assist and encourage our dear colleagues, partners and friends in Nepal, particularly those in the national agency responsible for heritage preservation and conservation, Department of Archaelogy (DOA) in Nepal, to deal with the complex earthquake emergency recovery of Nepal's outstanding and precious heritage.
After an initial consultation process, we thought it could be helpful to put together a scientific publication about the cultural heritage of Nepal before, during and after the 2015, thousands monuments and cultural heritage of Nepal Before, during and after the 2015 earthquake and to highlight current and future challenges. As co –editors representing our institutions, we called upon renowned Nepali and international professionals and young researches who contributed to the multidisciplinary international symposium on approaches for the conservation of Nepal's heritage, held on 11 june 2014 at the INHA (Institute national d'histoire de l'art, Paris, France ). Co-organised by the Alliance, Creops,Cnrs (UMR-AUSser: Archeitecture Urban Society : Knowledge Teaching Reasearch), the National School of Archietecture of Paris – Belleville (Ipraus: Parisian Institute for Research on Archietecture and Urban Society and the Cultural House of Nepal (Paris), with the support of the Embassy of Nepal to France, the Permanent Delagation of Nepal to Unesco and the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO, this symposium allowed us to adapted previous presentations to the post –earthquake situation. We are honoured that almost all of its particular agreed to join this endeavour and helped us put together this publication about the cultural heritage of Nepal. Aside from this publication and immediately after the earthquakes in Nepal. The Alliance provided financial support to rehabilities the Chode Monestery Winter School in Kathmandu and to restore the Monestary in Lo Manthang, Upper Mustang. The Alliance also generously provided financial support for two months (May – July 2015) as consultants/volunteers for the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu and the Department Of Archaeology of Nepal, to asses the damages caused to the cultural heritages sites in Kathmandu by the earthquakes. The results of this activity are included in the publication: 'Assessing and investing Swayambhunath after the "Gorkha Earthquake" of 2015' – see chapter 2.
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