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Alexander William MacDonald

Nationality: French

Gender: male

Date Of Brith: 08/10/1923

Present Position: Retired

Awards Received:

Military Cross

Academic & Professional Qualifications:

Bachelor B.A. Oxford 1949
Ph.D Licence-in-Lettres Sorbonne, Paris 1952


Position(s) Held:

1 Researcher, C.N.R.G., Paris 1951 1989
2 Member of Ke Laboratoise d’Ethnogic et dr Societies 1969 1989
3 Comparative, University de Paris X, Nanterre, France 1969 1989
4 University of Kirtipur, Kathmandu 1973 1975
5 Visiting Reader, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin 1979 1980
6 Visiting Professor University of California, Berkeley, USA 1984 Till date


Membership(s) of Societies/Association:

International Association of Buddhist Studies was elected general Secretary of the Association for the period 1991-1994.

About the Author

Alexander William Macdonald, (born:  8 October 1923) - British by birth and French by decree - is a Buddhist scholar and cultural anthropologist of wide renown. He is an equally well-known specialist of the ethno-history of the Himalayas, with interests concentrated in the interaction of oral and written traditions. Veritably an indefatigable researcher - who, for about 40 years, has been with the National Center of Scientific Research in Paris, and is now an honorary Directeur de Recherche, he has done considerable spells of field-work in Nepal, Sikkim and Ladakh: not only in high altitude areas, but in the valleys and plains as well.
Besides his stints at the Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu: 1973-75, the Chinese University, Hong Kong: 1979-80, and California University, Berkeley: 1984, among other teaching positions/assignments, Professor Macdonald has had a four-year term: 1991-95, as General Secretary of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Published extensively, he is also in-charge of a publication series of the Laboratoire d’ Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative, at the University of Paris X, Nanterre.

Details of Articles

1. Essays on the Ethnology of Nepal and South Asia, Vol. 1, Kathmandu, Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1975, Vol. II kathmandu Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1987.
2. The Writing of Buddhist History in the Sherpa area of Nepal in A.K. Narain (ed.) History of Buddhism, New Delhi, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 1979.
3. The Coming of Buddhism to the Sherpa area of Nepal in Acta Orientalia Hungarica, Vol. XXXIV, Bandopost 1980.
4. Religion in Tibet at the time of Srongrtsan sgompo, Myth as History in L. Ligeti (ed.) Tibetan and Buddhist Studies commentoring the 200th Annivarsary of the birth of Alexander, Vol. II, 1984.
5. Remarks on the Manipulation of power and authority in the high Himalayas in The Tibet Journal, Vol. XII, 1, Dharamshala, 1987.
6. English translator of P. Mus. Borobudur, Sketch of History of Buddhism (Preface) New Delhi, Sterling Publishers, 1997.
7. Editor of Volume, Mandala and Landscape, New Delhi, D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd. 1997.
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Mandala and Landscape

Since the publication in English of the Theory and Practice of Mandala by Giuseppe Tucci in 1961, our knowledge of the subject has increased considerably. Two-dimensional paintings (Tibetan: thanka, Skt.: paubha) have been displayed in many art exhibitions, reproduced photographically, and analysed in readable books as well as in articles in specialised journals. Three-dimensional mandalas like, for instance, the Barabadur in Java recently renovated by UNESCO, have been visited by many thousands of tourists as well as pilgrims. In America, Europe and Asia, monks have made and unmade numerous sand-mandalas openly, in public. Mandalas are, indeed, much less secret than they used to be.

Yet, up to now, mandalas have largely been studied outside the context of their use: in museums, in exhibitions and in libraries -- This volume highlights, perhaps for the first time, the techniques whereby mandala-schemes are projected in thought, belief and action, on to widely differing natural landscapes. Putting together the research findings of a group of Buddhist scholars from America, Austria, England, France, Germany and New Zealand, Professor Macdonald tries to underscore the linkages between mandalas and landscapes in varying eco-systems between Afghanistan and Japan -- with special focus on their geographical contexts and socio-cultural traditions. Each of the ten studies, included here, is supported by relevant illustrative material and extensive bibliographical references.

Embodied in Mandala and Landscape are the research results from field-work carried out in China, Nepal, Pakistan, Japan and Tibet. It is, as such, invaluable to scholars of Buddhist Studies, specially the researchers involved with the mandalas in South Asia and elsewhere.