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Anna Vergati

Nationality: French

Gender: female

Present Position: Director De Recherche Honoraire, C.N.R.S.

Awards Received:

Award of French Academy in 2007 for the book “Art and Society in Nepal” Published by Picard.

Academic & Professional Qualifications:

Master M.A. in History    
Ph.D Ph.D. in Social Anthropology University of Paris 1975
Others Habilitation - at Paris III Sorbonne 1999


Position(s) Held:

1. Research Fellow at CNRS
2. Director de Researcher CNRS, Paris

Membership(s) of Societies/Association:

Society Asiatique - Asiatic Society - Paris
AFUI - Association France - Indian Union
Founder of SEECHAC - Society for the Study of Himalayan and Central Asian Civilizations.

About the Author

The author is a member of the Laboratoire d’Ethnologie at the University of Paris X, Nanterre and is Research Fellow at C.N.R.S. (National Centre of Scientific Research) in Paris. She is the co-author of Newar Art. Nepalese Art in the Malla Period (Warminster, 1979) and author of Gods, Men and Territory. Society and Culture in Kathmandu Valley (New Delhi, 1995).

Details of Books/Monographs

1 Newar Art, Nepalese Art during the Malla period Aris and Phillips 1979
2 A Sketch book of Newar Iconography International Academy of Indian Culture 1984
3 Newari-English Dictionary Agam Kala Prakashan 1986
4 Gods, Men and Territory, Society and Culture in Kathmandu Valley Manohar Publishers 1995
5 Gods and Masks of the Kathmandu Valley D.K. Printworld 1999
6 Art et Societe au Nepal Picard 2005


Details of Articles

1. M. Greenwold et les Newar, Doit-on recourir a deux modeles du systeme de caste au Nepal? Archives europeennes de sociologie, XVI, 1975, pp. 310-317.
2. Taleju, Sovereign Deity of Bhaktapur, in Asie du Sud, Traditions et Changements, Colloques internationaux du CNRS, Paris, Editions du CNRS, 1979, pp. 163-169.
3. Une divinite lignagere des Newars: Digu Dyo, Bulletin de I’Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, LXVI, 1979, pp. 115-127.
4. Le Nepal, Les Royaumes de la vallee de kathmandu, in Les Royaumes de I’Himalaya, ed. par A.W. Macdonald, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1982 (Collection Orientale), pp. 164-208.
5. The social consequences of marrying Vishnu Narayana. The primary marriage among the Newars of Kathmandu Valley, in Contributions to Indian Sociology, 1982, pp. 271-287.
6. Les rites d’initiation des jeunes filles newar, in Enfances, sous la direction de F. Blanchon, PUF de Paris-Sorbonne, 1997 (Asie, 4), pp. 235-245.
7. Les association religieuses (guthi) des temples de la vallee de Kathmandu, in L’espace du temple, Vol. II: Les sanctuaires dans le royaume, ed. J.C. Galey, Paris, ed. de I’EPHESS, 1986, Purusartha no. 10, pp. 97-123.
8. Le culte et l’iconographie du Buddha Dipankara dans la vallee de Kathmandu, Arts Asiatiques, XXXVII, 1982, pp. 22-27.
9. Le roi faiseur de pluie. Une nouvelle version de la legende d’Avalokitesvara Rouge au Nepal, Bulletin de l’Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, LXXIV, 1985, pp. 267-303.
10. Quelques remarques sur l’usage du mandala et du yantra dans la vallee de Kathmandu, Nepal, in Mantra et diagrammes rituals dans l’hindouisme, ed. par A. Padoux, Paris, Editions du CNRS, 1986, pp. 11-31.
11. L’image de la divinite dans le culte lignager chez les Newar, Nepal, in L’image divine. Culte et meditation dans l’hindouisme, ed. par A. Padoux, Paris, Editions du CNRS, 1990, pp. 133-141.
12. Ritual Planning of the Bhaktapur Kingdom, Nepal, in Shastric Traditions in Indian Art, ed. par A. Dallapicola, Wiesbaden, F. Steiner Verlag, 1989, pp. 261-269.
13. Le meurtre des serpents ou la fondation de la ville de Bhaktapur, Nepal, in Traces de fondation, ed. par M. Detienne, Louvain-Paris, Peters, 1990, pp. 233-248.
14. Narrative Paintings in Nepal and in Rajasthan, in Nepal, Past and Present, ed. par G. Toffin, Paris, Editions du CNRS, 1993, pp. 195-204.
15. Bouddhisme et caste dans la vallee de Kathmandu, in Buddhisme et cultures locales. Quelques cas de reciproques adaptations. Actes du colloque franco-japonais de septembre 1991, ed. par F. Fukui et G. Fussman, Paris, EFEO, 1994, pp. 53-68.
16. Le roi et les deesses: la fete de Navaratri et Dasahra au Rajasthan, Journal Asiatique, 282, no. 1, 1994, pp. 125-146.
17. Image et rituel: a propos des peintures bouddhiques nepalaises, Arts Asiatiques, tome 54, 1999, pp. 33-43.
18. Men and masks in the Kathmandu Valley, paper presented at the Embassy of France, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, 1999, 23 p.
19. Clan, genealogie et identite dans l’Ouest du Rajasthan, in Le Rajasthan. Ses dieux, ses heros, son peuple, sous la direction d’Annie Montaut, Paris, Inalco, pp. 207-221.
20. Histoire des etudes indiennes: Sylvain Levi et l’idee de l’humanisme dans Studia Asiatica, 2000, 1-2, pp. 25-35.
21. Modele de ville hindoue. Nepal, Inde du Nord, XII-XX, dans Journal des Africanistes, Cite, Etat et Statut Politique, tome 74, fasc. 1-2, 2004, pp. 435-457.
22. Gods and monuments in Late Malla Period Paintings, Nepal. Old Images, New Insights. Ed. by P. Pal Bombay, Marg Publications, 2004, pp. 92-106.
23. A Newar pilgrimage to the lake of Gosaikund, Nepal. Old Images, New Insights. Ed. by P. Pal, Bombay, Marg Publications, 2004, pp. 116-128.
24. The image of Rajput hero in North India. South Asian Archaeology 2001, vol. 2 Historical Arhaeology and Art History, ed. Catherine Jarrige Paris, 2005, pp. 697-703.
25. Royaute hindoue et integration des bouddhistes dans les royaumes newars au Nepal, dans Les apparences du monde. Royautes hindoues et bouddhiques de l’ Asie du Sud et du Sud-Est, Paris, EFEO, 2007, pp. 185-205.
26. Centre et peripherie: organisation politique et religieuse des villes de la vallee de Kathmandu. Centre et peripherie. Approaches nouvelles des Orientalists. CIPOA I, pp. 299-313, Paris, Maisonneuve, 2009.
27. Le mariage hindou entre traditione et modernite dans Histoire du mariage Paris, R. Laffont, 2009, pp. 1015-1033.
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Gods and Masks of the Kathmandu Valley

The presence of masks as both ritual and art objects is attested among the traditions of mankind's oldest civilisations. Cutting across cultural and geographical barriers, they have exhibited a remarkable range and diversity of meanings throughout history.

The present study focuses on the masks worn in the Kathmandu Valley by the main ethnic group, the Newars. A specific aspect of the Newars is that, despite the political dominance of Hinduism, Buddhism is still alive. The masks represent gods, goddesses and demons, but never the dead or the ancestors. The author argues that the reason for the absence of figurations of the dead or ancestors is to be explained by the funerary rituals. There are no memorial monuments or other objects which perpetuate the memory of the deceased: It is through rituals performed after their death that the memory is preserved.

The distinction is made between statue-masks and the masks worn during ritual dances. The author focuses on the contexts in which the masks are worn by professional dancers and draws attention to the legends which explain the origin of the dances and their ritual role. Detailed descriptions are given of the dances performed during different festivals in the localities of the Kathmandu Valley.

The masks then worn are destroyed and re-made ritually each year by painters. Anne Vergati explains the relation between the dancer as a social person with a social identity and the mask which represents a god or a goddess. The mask is not supposed to hide the face of the dancer but to transform his identity in such a way as to make of him a deity.

Supported by numerous illustrations in colour, the book will appeal to historians and connoisseurs of art as well as to scholars of the cultures of the Himalayan regions.