October 5th, 2012

Buddhist Storytelling: The Art of Vessantara Narrative Scrolls of Northeast Thailand and Laos

“Buddhist Storytelling: The Art of Vessantara Narrative Scrolls of Northeast Thailand and Laos”
Dr. Leedom Lefferts

Friday, October 5, 2012,
Discovery 250
1pm to 2:30pm

Dr. Leedom Lefferts’ presentation focuses on the art work of the extremely long painted Vessantara Jataka scrolls from the important Bun Phra Wet ceremony of Northeast Thailand and Laos giving us a new perspective from his earlier presentation on the socio-karmic community of attendees at a wat, who usually also live or have relations together as villagers. These scrolls, as many as 10,000 of which exist in almost every Theravada Buddhist wat in this large area, depict the travails of Prince Vessantara, Phra Wetsandaun in Thai-Lao and Lao, as he achieves his karma’s goal of “Perfect Generosity.”

This presentation considers the narrative and artistic analysis and comparison of portions of two tellings, two scrolls, with additional examples used when appropriate. One of these scrolls forms the core of a volume now published by the Singapore Asian Civilisations Museum, the other a 15-meter portion that has recently come to light and will be available for close examination. Altogether this presentation should strengthen our understandings of the importance of material culture and artistic analysis in comprehending Theravada Buddhist cultures.