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Vincenzo Vergiani has been awarded a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant for a pilot project on “The Malla Renaissance: Towards a Cultural History of Nepal in the 14th-18th Centuries”

last modified Dec 04, 2015 03:15 PM

The grant will allow Dr Vincenzo Vergiani and his collaborator Dr Camillo A. Formigatti to carry out some preparatory work in view of the development of a proposal for a large-scale project, for which funding will be sought in the Autumn-Winter of 2016. The idea for this project was born in the final year of the AHRC-funded project “The intellectual and religious traditions of South Asia as seen through the Sanskrit manuscript collections of the University Library, Cambridge”(, of which Dr Vergiani was the PI. A conspicuous portion of the UL collections of South Asian manuscripts consists of Nepalese manuscripts. While cataloguing the South Asian holdings in the UL our attention was drawn to some unique manuscripts of unpublished Sanskrit works composed in Nepal from the 14th century onwards, mostly under the aegis of the ruling dynasty, the Mallas. This literary efflorescence occurred simultaneously with the emergence of a literary culture in the language of the Newars, the dominant ethnic group in the Kathmandu valley; a far-reaching reformation of Newar Buddhism; and the blossoming of Nepalese figurative arts between the 13th and the 15th century, which is also seen in the influence exerted by Newar artists in contemporary Tibet and China. In terms of political history, these centuries correspond to the final phase of the so-called Transitional Period, marked by the Karṇāta-Malla dynasty (c. 750-1482), and the age of the three Malla kingdoms (1482-1768). The project will investigate the political empowerment and cultural legitimisation of the Mallas through the creation of a connection with a mythological and poetical past, revived through the study of the classics of Sanskrit literature and the production of new literary works adopting those classics as their model.


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