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Articles by Mary S. Slusser

After receiving a doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University in New York City, Mary Slusser spent many years living and working abroad. She has spent many years exploring the region of the Himalayas, including seven years in Nepal. In 1982 her Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley, appeared, and has since stood as the most complete single work on the cultural history of the Nepal valley. Her most recent book, The Antiquity of Nepalese Woodcarving (2010), drastically revised our perception of the marvelous wooden sculpture of the Kathmandu Valley. 

Mary Slusser's work on the history of the art and culture of Nepal is marked by a series of discoveries and critical reassessments that have advanced our comprehension of this extraordinarily rich culture and art in a revolutionary way; they include groundbreaking work on Nepalese metalcraft, stone sculpture, architecture and painting. Now a research associate at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, she continues her studies into the art and culture of the Himalayas.

Mary Slusser: Remembrance of things past
A lawyer recently told me that for institutional beneficiaries of my Estate I should write something about my life since often they like to know a little about the donor. Since there already exists on file in the Library of Congress an oral history recorded by the Society of Women Geographers, additional information seemed unwarranted, but the lawyer’s advice raised a storm of far more intimate, near century-long memories that will not be stilled until I set them down as I do here.
Published: August 16, 2017
On the Loss of Cultural Heritage in Quake-Ravaged Nepal
Beneath the Kasthamandap railing was a band of intricate carving and lower still a narrow strip of floral design fringed with pendants. As an unexpected anomaly, on one face only the band of floral design became a charming frieze. Neither this frieze nor any part of it has yet turned up among the meagre corpus of pieces salvaged from the building. I am emboldened to share my old photographs of this frieze, both in some way as my duty to preserve through photographs at least a part of the vanished frieze, and in another way, to symbolize through this one small object the magnitude of what Nepal — and all of us — have lost.
Published: July 04, 2016
Two Medieval Nepalese Buildings: An architectural and cultural study is pleased to republish this important early article - originally published in 1974 - as part of the documentation on the damage inflicted by the earthquakes of April and May 2015, the first of which totally destroyed Kāṣṭhamaṇḍapa. Please also see the article by Dipesh Risal published on Sept. 13, 2015, Kasthamandap: Microcosm of Kathmandu's Living Culture and Storied History. Another important article by Mary Slusser on this important and now lost structure will be published soon.
Published: April 25, 2016
Seeing, Rather Than Looking At, Nepalese Art: The Figural Struts
Not far from the royal square of the old city of Patan in Nepal is an active Buddhist institution, a monastery in name but one that no longer houses celibate monks. Among several popular names, the most favored is Uku, to which Nepalese append bāhāḥ or bāhāl (from vihāra, Sanskrit for monastery). Ukubāhāḥ is one of the few essentially physically complete and active monasteries among more than 150 that once crowded the small city.
Published: December 18, 2009
The Lhasa gTsug lag khang ("Jokhang"): Further Observations on the Ancient Wood Carvings
The role of Newar carpenters from the Nepal Valley in decorating the interior of the gTsug lag khang, Lhasa’s revered Jokhang, has been long recognized. Traditionally, the Nepali carvings are dated about the middle of the seventh century, and in them they expressed the unmistakable aesthetics that characterized their homeland, politically the domain of the Licchavi dynasty.
Published: February 07, 2006
Steaming Down the Mekong
A dour, broken country of "dark impoverishment" now ­ so it is described ­ and of speedboats that rocket down the Mekong "like demented drag-car racers," it would be a world apart from tranquil Mekong travel and the beguiling land that was Laos fifty years ago. That another generation might share those bygone days seemed reason to revive this paper.
Published: February 14, 2005
Conservation Notes on Some Nepalese Paintings
Five of the paintings presented here are now, or will be, in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. All have undergone conservation, for the most part minimal but occasionally quite extensive. This report, including pre-restoration photo documentation, is therefore prepared as an aid to scholars and conservators who may be concerned with them. In case of doubt it clearly establishes what is original and what is not.
Published: May 19, 2003
Kuber Singh Shakya: A Master Craftsman of Nepal
The metallurgical arts of ancient Nepal have long been famous and their antiquity well established. Moreover, despite the well-entrenched opinion that "no living art supports [Nepal's rites and festivals] any longer," the metallurgical arts at least, yet thrive in the creation of quality sacred art that can hold its own with the best of the past.
Published: April 19, 2001 | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries