First International Conference on Spiti, University of Oxford, 6th – 7th May 2016

The Spiti Valley: Recovering the Past & Exploring the Present

Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College




Poster_PDF.pdf1010.41 KB


The Spiti Valley is a remote Buddhist enclave in the Indian Himalayas. It is situated on the borders of the Tibetan world with which it shares strong cultural and historical ties. Often under-represented on both domestic and international levels, scholarly research on this subject all disciplines taken together has significantly increased over the past decade.

The conference aims at bringing together researchers currently engaged in a dialogue with past and present issues pertaining to Spitian culture and society in all its aspects.  It is designed to encourage interdisciplinary exchanges in order to explore new avenues and pave the way for future research.

Conference Schedule

Friday 6th May, 2016

08.30              Registration Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College

08.30              Coffee and Tea  Buttery, Wolfson College

09.20               Welcome speech by Prof. Ulrike Roesler (University of Oxford)

09.30               Keynote address by Prof. Deborah Klimburg-Salter (University of Vienna) Through the black light - new technology opens a window on the 10th century

10.00               Convener's speech by Yannick Laurent (University of Oxford) Unsung Scholar: Henry L. Shuttleworth and the History of Spiti

10.30               Coffee Break   Buttery, Wolfson College

Panel 1          Chaired by Mark Aldenderfer (University of California - Merced)

11.00               Vijay K. Bodh (Panjab University), P. M. Saklani (Garhwal University), Ekta Singh (Garhwal University) Contesting Antiquity and development: an Interdisciplinary insight into the rock art preservation in Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh

11.30               John V. Bellezza (Dharamsala) Over the Long Arc of Time: Cognate themes in Rock  Art of Spiti extending from the Iron Age to the Buddhist Era (video conference call)

12.00               Nyen Thar (Banaras Hindu University) སྤི་ཏི་ཞེས་པའི་མིང་ལ་དཔྱད་པ་་

12.30               Lunch Break Haldane Room, Wolfson College

Panel 2          Chaired by Ulrike Roesler (University of Oxford)

14.00               Carmen Auer (Graz University of Technology) Measure for Measure: Researching and Documenting Early Buddhist Architecture in Spiti

14.30               Kalzang Tsultrim (Norbulingka Institute) སྤི་ཏི་ཡུལ་གྱི་ཁང་བཟོའི་ཁྱད་ཆོས་སྐོར་རོབ་ཙམ་གླེང་བ་

15.00               Gerald Kozics (Graz University of Technology) Spatial Interaction: The Stupa and the Lhathos of the Rigsum Gönpo of Tashigang in Spiti

15.30               Diana Lange (Humboldt Universität) A “Road leading to Spiti from Demjok” : Considerations about the search for alternative routes between Tibet and Spiti in mid-19th Century

16.00               Coffee Break  Buttery, Wolfson College

Panel 3           Chaired by David Pritzker (University of Oxford)

16.30               Virendra S. Verma (Institute of Chinese Studies-Delhi) Conservation Challenges of the Ancient Tabo Monastery due to Climate Change

17.00               Hubert Feiglstorfer (Austrian Academy of Sciences) On spatial relations between Tabo's monastic structure and its surrounding village environment

17.30               Amy Heller (Nyon) The Mandala Temple dkyil 'khor lha khang at Tabo: historic and iconographic analysis

18.00               Reception

19.00               Formal Dinner (reservation required) Haldane Room, Wolfson College

Saturday 7th May, 2016

Panel 4          Chaired by Tsering Gonkatsang (University of Oxford)

09.00               Veronika Hein (Solothurn) Some remarks on Tabo Tibetan a variety of the Tibetic language of Spiti

09.30               Nyima Tso (Norbulingka Institute) སྤི་ཏིའི་བྱིས་སྒྲུང་སྐོར་ཞིབ་འཇུག

10.00               Lhundup Tsomo (Tibetan Children Village School) སྤི་ཏིའི་ཡུལ་གྱི་ཆང་གི་རིག་གà½à½¦à¼‹à½‚ླེང་བ་

10.30               Coffee Break  Buttery, Wolfson College

Panel 5          Chaired by Clare Harris (University of Oxford)

11.00              Dieter Schuh (IITBS) A dark light in a dark period (1680-1710) of Spiti (video conference call)

11.30               Ian Zimmermann (EHESS) From craft to heritage: being a musician in modern Spiti

12.00               Joseph Leach (University of Michigan) On the Scorpion's Back: Materializing a Nyingma Presence in Spiti

12.30               Lunch Break Dining Hall, Wolfson College

Panel 6          Chaired by Robert Mayer (University of Oxford)

14.00               Mélodie Bonnat (Paris) Kungri Tsuglakhang murals' conservation-restoration project

14.30               Henri Namgyal (INALCO) The origins of Padma gling pa's tradition in the Cloud Valley in Spiti

15.00               Pascale Dollfus (CNRS) ‘Buchen' as storytellers, Pin Valley, Spiti

15.30               Patrick Sutherland (University of the Arts) - Documenting the material culture of the Buchen

16.00               Coffee Break  Buttery, Wolfson College

Panel 7          Chaired by Fernanda Pirie (University of Oxford)

16.30               Tashi Tsering (Mount Royal University) Power transitions and social change in Spiti Valley, India

17.00               Thupten Gyatso (Sambotha Tibetan School) གà½à½ à¼‹à½–ོའི་སྤྱི་ཏིའི་ཡུལ་གྱི་ས་ཁང་ཐོབ་དབང་ལམ་ལུགས་ལ་་དཔྱད་པ་

17.30               Christian Jahoda (Austrian Academy of Sciences) Towards a History of Spiti: Some Comments from the Perspective of Social Anthropology

18.00               Closing speech by Lochen Tulku Tenzin Kalsang Rinchen Rinpoche

18.10               Group Picture

Conference Schedule and Programme can be downloaded from the Conference Webpage.

Any questions can be addressed to the organising committee at

Conference Information

  1. The conference will begin on Friday morning (May 6) and end on Saturday afternoon (May 7).
  2. The conference will be held at the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford.
  3. Each presenter has 20 minutes allocated to his/her paper, followed by a 10-minute Q&A session.
  4. A handout in English is recommended for papers given in Tibetan.
  5. Fee: The registration fee is £40 for anyone presenting. Registration will take place at the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium between 8.30am and 9.15am on Friday, 6th May, 2016. The registration fee covers coffee breaks and lunches. Please note that registration fees are partly subsidized by the Organising Committee and, therefore, cannot be waived nor refund. 
  6. Observers: The conference is open to all. Registration fee for observers is £36 per person and per day. It covers coffee breaks and lunch. Registration fee for students is £5 per person and per day. It covers coffee breaks only. Pre-registration for attendance is open until 30th April, 2016. Registration will take place at the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium between 8.30am and 9.15am on Friday, 6th May, 2016. No last minute registration.
  7. Formal Dinner: A three-course dinner (£38) will take place at Wolfson College on Friday evening, 6th May, 2016. Pre-booking is required and can be done by emailing the Organising Committee by 30th April, at the latest. Dinner vouchers will be received upon payment on Friday morning, 6th May, 2016. Please note that this dinner is not included in the conference fee.
  8. Accommodations: Wolfson College offers 4 x twin en-suite Guest Rooms (£45 per night), plus Guest Suite (£67 per night), available for Friday / Saturday / Sunday overnights. Please contact Wolfson Events and Conference Manager (on a first come first served basis): are various types of accommodation available in Oxford. A list of hotels and guesthouses can be made available to anyone needing more information. Please email
  9. Periodic updates about the conference will be announced on this webpage and circulated on the mailing list.