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last updated: 2/22/2011

Tibetan Studies: Notes from the Archives

Note:  Indiana University faculty, staff, and students can create their own searchable collections on any topic by logging in to the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/mb

 

A new addition to the IU-Bloomington Libraries collections is the Inventory of Books of the A.K. Gordon Collection. IUCAT can be used to request the inventory from ALF. (Consult it in the ALF Reading Room on the second floor of the east tower of the Herman B Wells Library.) Digitized copies of a selection of titles represented in the collection are available in full text in the Hathi Trust's Antoinette K. Gordon  collection. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/mb?a=listis;c=79147031

Mrs. Gordon, who died in 1975, was  an associate in the Department of Anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History. Her bequest to the Indiana University Tibetan Studies Program was dedicated in 1976.

 

Another collection in the Hathi Trust Digital Library with Indiana University links is entitled Lama Temple Potala of Jehol. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/mb?a=listis;c=357884109

The notes below summarize its place in Indiana University history.

Correspondence cited below from Ryan  0784.136

Indiana University Office of University Archives & Records Management, Bloomington, Indiana

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Vincent Bendix, Lynton K. Caldwell, and  Denis Sinor played roles in this story about a reconstruction of  the Golden Temple in Jehol created for the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago.

 

Sven Hedin's Sino-Swedish expedition began doing research in China in 1927. On a visit to the United States in  the summer of 1929, Hedin met Vincent Bendix, who agreed to finance a project which resulted in the creation of a reconstruction of  the Jehol temple at the Century of Progress Exposition along the Chicago lakefront. The story of Indiana's role in the disposition over the years of the duplicate temple of the one built by order of Emperor Kangxi  (1661-1722) in China is the topic of this brief essay.

 

In 1967 Indiana University Professor of Government  Lynton K. Caldwell, a graduate of the University of Chicago in 1934, " because of faculty interest and longstanding interest in this remarkable building and in Indiana University's Asian Studies Program" wrote to Chancellor Herman B Wells at the Indiana University Foundation about the possibility of bringing the temple to Indiana.

(By that time, though it was owned by Harvard's Yenching Institute,  it rested in pieces in an Ohio warehouse after being visited by thousands of people in Chicago and New York City.)

 

Caldwell to Wells (August 1st, 1968) :

"As you may possibly recall, the original funds for the reconstruction of the building and for its transportation to America were largely the result of the interest of an Indiana industrialist, Vincent Bendix of South Bend. It is my understanding that the copper shingles for the roof of the temple were in fact made at the Bendix plant in South Bend.  Should it prove feasible for the temple to be acquired by Indiana University, it would be a curious and poetic turn of events -- the temple returning to the state from which the impetus for its reconstruction first came."

 

By the end of 1968 John C. Pezel, Director of the Yenching Institute, wrote  to Caldwell (December 20th, 1968):

"transfer of the Lama Temple to Indiana University may be effected as soon as the Chairman may have a statement of that University's intent to reconstruct the temple for academic or cultural purposes."

 

Though the temple was transferred to Indiana University Foundation ownership, carrying through proved problematic. As Professor Denis Sinor, then at the Asian Studies Research Institute, Goodbody Hall, wrote on July 12, 1979:

"I.U.'s dealing with the Temple goes back more than a decade...the whole matter was started by [Thubten] Norbu, [John] Hangin, and myself, and the original idea was to house the temple in the Asian Studies Research Institute, which is now called Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies. Keith Caldwell, Norbu, and myself -- together with Joe Sutton and Chancellor Wells- were the moving spirits behind the whole operation..."

 

Almost a decade earlier Sinor had written from the Asian Studies Research Institute to Chancellor Wells at the IU Foundation (August 2, 1968): 

"We could make excellent use of it . The ASRI is in an embryonic stage of development... it must have an asset the other institutions do not have... The Gordon collection of Tibetan art would fit beautifully into this framework."

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The Antoinette K. Gordon collection is at Indiana University -- a marvelous asset. However despite the sustained efforts of Indiana University faculty over many years, the temple did not come to Indiana and at this writing has not been re-assembled.  In 1986 it was transferred unassembled to Stockholm under the auspices of a private foundation, which has restored many of the pieces. 

 

Andrea Singer

February 4, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

last updated: 2/22/2011