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New HyperImage Project on Pilgrimage Scroll

Aug 10, 2016

The new research project coordinated by cluster members Jörg Gengnagel and Eric Decker aims to offer a fully annotated interactive presentation of a pilgrimage scroll from Rajasthan in India.  

“A Pilgrimage Scroll (tīrthapaṭṭa) from Rajasthan: Visual Journeys and Confluences of Devotion at the three Cities of Gayā, Kāśī and Prayāg” is the topic of a new research project launched in early 2016 at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" as a sub project of MC9.2 "Changing Sacred Waterscapes". It aims to create a fully annotated digital representation of a pilgrimage scroll from Rajasthan in India.

The investigated scroll is a unique representation of sacred spaces in form, style and content and dates to the beginning of the 18th century. Painted on cloth, this tīrthapaṭṭa from Mewar (Rajasthan) has a size of 178 x 70 cm and depicts the three pilgrimage places Gayā, Kāśī (Vārāṇasī) and Prayāg (Allahabad). Even though it has been displayed at the National Museum in New Delhi, the structure and content have not been studied yet.

After receiving high quality reproductions and rights of publication by the National Museum, more than 550 objects on the scroll could be identified. These, and a complete reading of all legible legends, will be presented interactively with the help of the HyperImage platform. The platform enhances the digital presentation of long horizontal, pictorial and textual formats and renders them available to a large audience. Developed in the course of the "Hachiman Digital Handscrolls Project", this technology will be applied similar to that of the “Mirror of Kāśī (Kāśīdarpaṇa 1876)” (www.kashidarpana.uni-hd.de).

Grounded on this technology, a first analysis of the object will be presented. The map depicts confluences of the rivers Gaṅgā and Yamunā as well as Asi and Varaṇā. The complex waterscapes of the three cities are represented by numerous wells and ponds. Mythological scenes like the depiction of the family of Śiva and Viṣṇu in the center frame the visual journey through the cities. Whereas this pilgrimage scroll hints at the interconnectedness of pilgrimage sites by not exclusively representing Kāśī, the Mirror of Kāśī has to be seen as a different category that has been produced in Banaras, using lithography as a new printing technology introduced during the 19th century.

Jörg Gengnagel is project coordinator of the project MC9.2 “Changing Sacred Waterscapes: Religious and Scientific Knowledge Systems in Varanasi” as well as the interdisciplinary research group MC9 “Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspective”.

Eric Decker is the coordinator of the Heidelberg Research Architecture (HRA).

Further members of the project group are Vera Lazzaretti, a DAAD post-doctoral fellow from Università degli Studi di Milano and Matthias Arnold and Violetta Janzen of the Heidelberg Research Architecture.

Please visit the project website for further information.


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  • Pilgrimage Scroll from Rajasthan. Courtesy National Museum, New Delhi.