Long-sleeved jacket made of Assamese eri silk; with embroidered decoration. Typical Monpa female dress along with a scarf (see 2009,3023.2)
- Height: 54 centimetres
- Width: 133 centimetres (end of sleeve to end of sleeve)
This jacket was made in Monyul in the eastern Himalayas but was given to the donor in Sera monastery, in the south Indian state of Karnataka. Originally, the great monastery of Sera was located just outside Lhasa and was one of the trio of Gelugpa houses that supported the rule of the Dalai Lama (the others were Drepung and Ganden) in the period of Gelugpa rule following Tsongkha-pa. Since becoming refugees, many Sera monks have been relocated to Bylekuppe, in Karnataka where the institution continues to flourish.
The reason that Monpa articles of clothing are coming from southern India, lies in the desire for training that many Gelugpa monks in Arunachal evince (although Nyingmapa presence is still attested in Monyül, the area is today mainly Gelugpa in affiliation). Considerable numbers of Gelugpa monks in Arunachal, when seeking higher training, go to the great Gelugpa monastery of Sera, now in Karnataka.
As a result of the joint SOAS/BM research project in Arunachal Pradesh (completed 2007), Monpa costume has been acquired by the Museum and was exhibited in the exhibition Between Assam and Tibet in 2008 (Room 91). The examples of women’s costume exhibited included a length of eri silk (2002,0803,0.1) prior to it being made up into a jacket of the type in this gift. This length of cloth had been purchased in the bazaar and – unlike the current example – had never been used. Now, through the acquisition of this example, the museum can demonstrate the unused and unstitched material as well as an example that has been made and then used. Indeed, the donor of these two items brought the two items in the gift to the Museum as a result of having seen the Monpa costume in the exhibition.
From the historical point of view, the current example also demonstrates the unlikely, though nevertheless, substantial link between southern India and Arunachal Pradesh in the late 20th/early 21st century.
Used but good
The donor, Emma Frampton, was given this item (as well as 2009,3023.2) by a young man from Tawang who has been brought up by Monpa monks in Sera. She herself spent many months with Monpa monks and nuns at Sera during 2004/05.
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Object reference number: RFI40868
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