Kora is a both a pilgrimage and a form of meditative practice in the Tibetan Buddhist and Bön traditions. Practitioners perform a kora by circumambulating a sacred object or space; the Buddhists walk clockwise, while the Bön do so counterclockwise. How do the ritualized acts of walking, chanting and listening deeply in such sacred landscapes transform one’s spiritual experience? How does undertaking a kora function as a sensory form of placemaking, rendering every step a devotional act of embodied cartography along a sacred journey?

Soundscapes of Kora is a sound installation based on soundwalks I conducted in Mt. Kailash, Tibet and Kathmandu, Nepal. It was included in the Kailash Cartographies Exhibition curated by Sreshta Rit Premnath at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, The New School from March 9 – April 3, 2017.

This 4-channel sound installation captures koras performed at the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal and Mt. Kailash in Tibet. The two soundtracks present excerpts from soundwalks conducted at Boudhanath (21 mins) on March 24th, 2016 and a month-long expedition to Mt. Kailash (17 mins) along a historic route of pilgrimage across the northwestern Himalayas and Tibet in July-August 2016. The Dropka nomads of Tibet used this as an ancient route for salt trading with the Dolpo-pa people in Nepal, crossing the treacherous high-altitude journey on caravans of yaks and horses for over a thousand years.

The listener is urged to perform their own kora by circumambulating the space while immersing in the soundscapes (preferably walking on the salt barefoot).

Listen to all other sound walks here: https://www.mixcloud.com/SacredSoundwalks/

Artist: Nitin Sawhney, The New School
Sound Engineering: Jerry Adler
Exhibit Handout: Gabriella Ullauri
Curatorial Guidance: Sreshta Rit Premnath and Radhika Subramanium
With support from the India China Institute (ICI)

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