Mani Stone Carving

Mani Stone Carving

in Video
Published on: 17 May 2021

Sonam Angchok, Rigzin Chodon and Monisha Ahmed

Camera, Direction and Editing: Sonam Angchok is assistant officer, media, at Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation, Leh. For the past eight years, he has documented several films for LAMO. He worked as assistant director for the film ‘Kharyog’ for Indian Foundation for Arts (IFA), New Delhi. He is an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII, Pune).

Script, Subtitle and Research: Rigzin Chodon is a research associate at the Ladakh Arts And Media Organisation, Leh. She received her doctoral degree (2018) from the Centre for English Studies, SLL&CS, JNU, New Delhi. Her research focuses on the study of the history of print media with a focus on the Moravian Missionary newspapers in early twentieth-century Ladakh and Kyelang in Lahoul.

Research: Monisha Ahmed is co-founder and executive director of the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation. She is an independent researcher, writer and curator, with a focus on the histories, practices and material culture of Ladakh. Her doctoral degree from Oxford University developed into the book 'Living fabric: Weaving among the Nomads of Ladakh Himalaya' (2002). She has co-edited 'Ladakh: Culture at the Crossroads' (2005), and collaborated on 'Pashmina: The Kashmir Shawl and Beyond' (2009, 2017).

This film on mani (prayer) stone carving covers the annual stone-carving event held in the village of Khalatse, in western Ladakh, some 97 km from Leh.

The carvers talk about the origin of this tradition and explain how this important cultural heritage is kept alive through the yearly occasion. The youth of the village also teach stone carving to interested people during winter in the main bazaar of Khalatse. This community space is also an active place of exchange, where other villagers come and request for mani stones to be made, and later they place them on top of mani walls in their respective villages. The main purpose of stone carving is to gain merit by carving Buddhist mantras that can never be erased.