Pamuling monastery, Buddhism, lions and elephants

Pamuling monastery, 3 April 2018

As this blog blogged earlier, on 2 April 2018 we arrived in Pamuling village in Sichuan, China. The next day, 3 April, we went up a dirt road to the about 4,000 meter high summit of Pamuling mountain. On that rather flat summit is the about 900-years old Tibetan Buddhist Pamuling monastery. The photo shows the view from a monastery gate to the immediate surroundings and the snowy mountains beyond.

The photo also shows a bit of the elephant sculptures at the gate; about which more later.

Pamuling monastery, monks, 3 April 2018

This photo shows some of the monastery’s monks at the inner courtyard.

Pamuling monastery, monks, lion, elephant, 3 April 2018

This photo shows monks, and also a lion sculpture and an elephant sculpture. Lions live only in Africa and a small part of western India. If often strikes me that lions depicted in coats of arms etc. in countries where no lions live, whether in England or the Netherlands or Indonesia or Tibet, somehow don’t look realistic.

Pamuling monastery, lions, elephants, 3 April 2018

This photo shows the lion and elephant sculptures from outside the monastery.

Pamuling monastery, elephant, 3 April 2018

It was not easy to photograph the elephant sculptures: as they are white and there was blaring sunlight.

There are quite some birds around Pamuling monastery. The monks feed them. These birds will be the subject of a later blog post.


Wind makes ice sculptures

This 19 March 2019 video shows how a wintry east wind makes ice sculptures near Monnickendam in the Netherlands.

Ancient camel sculptures discovered in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: High relief of standing dromedary on sandstone spur at center of image. Credit: © CNRS/MADAJ, R. Schwerdtner

From the CNRS in France:

Rock art: Life-sized sculptures of dromedaries found in Saudi Arabia

February 13, 2018

At a remarkable site in northwest Saudi Arabia, a CNRS archaeologist)1 and colleagues from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have discovered camelid sculptures unlike any others in the region. They are thought to date back to the first centuries BC or AD.)2 The find sheds new light on the evolution of rock art in the Arabian Peninsula and is the subject of an article published in Antiquity (February 2018).

Located in the province of Al Jawf in northwest Saudi Arabia, Camel Site, as it is known, was explored in 2016 and 2017 by a Franco-Saudi research team. The sculptures, some incomplete, were executed on three rocky spurs there. Though natural erosion has partly destroyed some of the works, as well as any traces of tools, the researchers were able to identify a dozen or so reliefs of varying depths representing camelids and equids. The life-sized sculpted animals are depicted without harnessing in a natural setting. One scene in particular is unprecedented: it features a dromedary meeting a donkey, an animal rarely represented in rock art. Some of the works are thus thematically very distinct from the representations often found in this region. Technically, they also differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites — frequently simple engravings of dromedaries without relief — or the sculpted facades of Al Ḩijr (Madâ’in Şâliḩ). In addition, certain Camel Site sculptures on upper rock faces demonstrate indisputable technical skills. Camel Site can now be considered a major showcase of Saudi rock art in a region especially propitious for archaeological discovery.

Though the site is hard to date, comparison with a relief at Petra (Jordan) leads the researchers to believe the sculptures were completed in the first centuries BC or AD. Its desert setting and proximity to caravan routes suggest Camel Site — ill suited for permanent settlement — was a stopover where travelers could rest or a site of worship.


[1] The archaeologist is a research engineer at the Orient et Méditerranée research unit (CNRS / Sorbonne University / University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne / EPHE / Collège de France). This project involves another researcher in France, from the TRACES research unit (CNRS / University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès / French Ministry of Culture and Communication).

[2] These discoveries were made within the scope of the Dumat al Jandal archaeological project, directed by researchers Guillaume Charloux (CNRS) and Romolo Loreto (University of Naples L’Orientale), and supported by the SCTH; the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Labex RESMED, part of the French Investissements d’Avenir program; and the French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS).

Fortunately for the makers of these sculptures, some 2,000 years ago the present regime in Saudi Arabia was not in power.

As Saudi Arabia is not just the only country in the world practicing the death penalty by beheading.

As far as I know, it also is the only country where making snowmen, or snow camels (or snow turtles‘; or snow dinosaurs) is illegal.

Illegal snow camel in Saudi Arabia

Ice and snow sculpture in Harbin, China

This video says about itself:

20 December 2017

The residents of Harbin, China brighten the long, frigid months by carving fantastical frozen sculptures for the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival that takes place in January and February. Once a mostly regional affair, the festival has grown to be a major international event and competition. So bundle up and pull on your sturdy boots to explore.

Ukrainian anti-Franco fighter’s monument vandalized

This Deutsche Welle video from Germany says about itself:

Franco’s terrible legacy | Focus on Europe

13 October 2016

The bodies of over 100,000 victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship have yet to be recovered. Spain is littered with mass graves. Many Spaniards are now searching for the remains of lost relatives.

By James Tweedie in Britain:

International brigader‘s statue torn down in Ukraine

Wednesday 6th December 2017

THE International Brigades Memorial Trust (IBMT) has condemned the desecration at the weekend of a monument to a Ukrainian who died in the Spanish Civil War.

Trust secretary Jim Jump spoke out after the statue of Yuriy Velikanovich in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv was toppled on Saturday night and scrawled with the graffiti “commies out.”

Mr Jump told the Morning Star that the IBMT “deplores such acts of vandalism” which were “sadly part of a trend in eastern Europe and elsewhere to denigrate those who fought fascism in the 1930s and ’40s.”

Mr Velikanovich was killed at the Battle of the Ebro, the largest and bloodiest of the three-year war, on September 4 1938 while fighting with the Taras Shevchenko volunteer company, named after the Ukrainian national poet.

He was a teacher by profession and served as a war reporter in Spain before joining combat.

His monument, designed by Theodosia Bryzh, was erected in the city’s Iron Water Park in 1982. Vandals cut the head off the statue in 2015, a year after the far-right Euromaidan coup, but it had been repaired.

A street in the city was also named after him but was renamed in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Yuriy Velikanovich monument in Lviv before the vandalism

United States art for birds

This video from the USA says about itself:

Carving Memories of Ezra, the Red-tailed Hawk

29 September 2017

Sculptor David Cohen created a beautiful carving of Ezra the Red-tailed Hawk of Cornell Lab Bird Cams fame. When Ezra died in early 2017, Cohen’s work became a tribute not only to the hawk but to the Bird Cams community who had learned and shared so much while watching. “For-Ever Ezra,” the carving featured in this video, is available for sale until October 31, 2017. The artist will donate the proceeds to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To make an offer, visit here.

A Perfect Day for an Albatross

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

A Perfect Day for an Albatross

Author & Illustrator: Caren Loebel-Fried
Target: 6-13 years
Format: Hard Cover
Pages: 40
Dimensions: 9″ x 11″

First in a new Cornell Lab Publishing Group children’s series that focuses on a fascinating bird species, this story uses native folk art and authentic style, evoking the culture and habitats where the bird lives.

A Perfect Day for an Albatross, by Caren Loebel-Fried, an award-winning author and artist from Hawai’i, sweeps you into an albatross’s world of wind, rolling seas, boisterous dancing, and their intense commitment to one another and their nestlings.


Set on Midway Atoll, where 72 percent of the world’s Laysan Albatrosses make their nests, Mālie, an albatross, must protect her egg until her mate returns. Join Mālie as she dances, hunts, and soars over the ocean swells. Block print art with flowing watercolors makes this title a glorious treat for the eyes, as well as the heart.

A Perfect Day for an Albatross is compatible with Bird QR for streaming sounds, video, and other content. Back matter includes a Bird QR link to watch live albatrosses on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology HD cam in Hawai’i.


A Perfect Day for an Albatross is a perfect book for any child you love, a book of generous, inspired vision. It’s a beautiful story about these legendary birds in their ocean paradise.”

Carl Safina, author of Eye of the Albatross, and Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel.

“A wonderful introduction to a magnificent sea bird, this vibrantly illustrated story belongs on every shelf.”


Pro-slavery -genocide statues in the Netherlands?

This 18 August 2017 Dutch TV video is about controversial statues of three men who played a role in the history of the Netherlands.

First, Peter Stuyvesant; known as the 17th century governor of what is now New York City in the USA. The video says Stuyvesant is controversial. He owned slaves, had a Quaker tortured because of his religion, was anti-Jewish and violent against native Americans. He also had plans to increase the slave trade from Africa to Curaçao and further.

(Still Stuyvesant, while alive, maybe killed less people than the cigarettes named after him in the 20th century killed with cancer).

The second controversial statue is of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, seventeenth century Dutch East India Company Governor General in what is now Indonesia.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 18 August 2017:

Henk te Velde, professor of Dutch history, says that Coen was called the butcher of Banda. “He has thousands of dead people on his conscience because he led the punitive expedition to the Indonesian island Banda.” That was about getting for the Netherlands the monopoly of the trade in nutmeg.

The third statue is of General Van Heutsz.

Translated from NOS TV:

As Governor General in the Dutch East Indies, General Van Heutsz played a major role in the bloody Aceh war. According to [historian] Fatah-Black, he has hundreds of thousands of dead on his conscience. But he was initially praised by Queen Wilhelmina, who gave him a high level medal.

The statue erected for him in the 1930s was already controversial then.

There are less statues of controversial people in the Netherlands than, eg, statues of United States Civil War Confederate warriors fighting to keep slavery; statues now criticized in, eg, Charlottesville, Virginia and praised by President Donald Trump. According to Fatah-Black, this is because in the Netherlands there is not such a big tradition of erecting statues of persons considered to be heroes by some.

Statues and politics in the USA and Britain: here.