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5 The Viṣṇu on Garuḍa from the Nat Hlaung Kyaung Temple, Bagan Olga Deshpande and Pamela Gutman† From Bagan to St Petersburg For nearly seventy years, four Burmese stone sculptures dating to the 11th–12th centuries have been in storage at the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. They arrived in Russia after World War II, part of a large group of Asian art objects (from India to Japan and Indonesia) from two institutions in Berlin, the Museum für Volkerkunde and the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst. It was only after the radical political changes in the Soviet Union in the early 1990s that, after a long period of obfuscation regarding their background, Russia and Germany were able to begin to work together, and with other specialists, on these collections. The Burmese sculptures comprise three images depicting events from the life of the Buddha: the cutting of the hair in preparation for his life as an ascetic; the Naga King Mucalinda sheltering him from a storm in the sixth week after the Enlightenment; and the taming of the raging elephant Nālāgiri. We discussed these images at the EURASEAA 14 Conference in Dublin in September 2012 and our findings will be published in the 17-J02381 05 Bagan and the World.indd 66 9/10/17 8:46 AM The Viṣṇu on Garuḍa from the Nat Hlaung Kyaung Temple, Bagan 67 conference proceedings. The fourth image, examined here, represents Viṣṇu on Garuḍa, Viṣṇu Garuḍāsana. These sculptures were sent to the Museum für Volkerkunde between 1894 and 1896 by a German geologist and palaeontologist, Friedrich (Fritz) Wilhelm Nötling (1857–1928), who at the time was employed by the Geological Survey of India and was working at the Yenangyaung oil fields near Bagan. Nötling studied geology and related subjects before graduating in 1885, after which he worked as a private docent (tutor) at the University of Königsberg. In the same year, he was assigned by the Berlin Academy of Sciences to go on a mission to Palestine, and he subsequently published his first paper for the Geological Survey of Prussia in 1886.1 Until the University Reforms of the late 1900s, palaeontology was not taught at English universities, and the Geological Survey of India from time to time found it necessary to resort to Germany to find suitable people to fill palaeontological posts. In January 1887 Nötling sailed to Calcutta and served in the Geological Survey until 1903. He became a prolific researcher on geological, paleontological, prehistoric and ethnological subjects and published over forty papers and three books (Struwe 2006, p. 33). In 1892 he wrote his Report on the Petroleum Industry in Upper Burma from the End of the Last Century up to the Beginning of 18912 and in 1900 The Miocene of Burma.3 He was also a committed careerist, taking advantage of the places in which he worked to make collections that he either sold or donated to various institutions in the expectation of social advancement. By 1907 he had acquired the honorary aristocratic title of Hofrat as a consequence. He spent nearly eight months in Northern Baluchistan, then part of British India, in 1898 and his reports were published in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie.4 His ambition soon overtook him. It was discovered that he had transferred an official collection of six hundred Cretaceous-period fossils from Northern Baluchistan to Tübingen University, and had subsequently been awarded the Cross of the First Class of the Order of Frederick by the King of Württemberg. He was forced to resign from the Geological Survey in 1903, and some thousands of items were repatriated to the Indian Museum in Calcutta. Although he later vehemently denied it, he sent another fossil collection from Baluchistan to the eminent Russian geologist Feodosji Tchernyshev of the Russian Geological Society5 (figure 5.1) in St Petersburg in 1901. Thanks to the help of A.P. Solokov, the director of the All-Russian Research Geological Karpinsky Institute, the Society’s successor, we have discovered 17-J02381 05 Bagan and the World.indd 67 9/10/17 8:46 AM 68 Olga Deshpande and Pamela Gutman FIGURE 5.1 Source: A.R. Sokolov/Central Scientific-Research Geological-Prospecting Museum (CNIGR Museum). receipts from 1894–98 for about 1,500 fossils, five hundred of which remain today. Today, collections made by him can also be found at the Berlin Ethnological Museum (Museum f...


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