Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
The Space of Sera (Se ra’i khor yug)
by José Ignacio Cabezón
January 30, 2006
Section 5 of 6

How the Map was Made

The map that you are about to see is the result of many hours of work on the part of many people (see Collaborations and Credits). Buchung, of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences (TASS), helped us create the necessary contacts in the monastery, and accompanied us on several data-gathering trips. Tsewang Rinchen, the head librarian at TASS, made available to us a detailed map of the monastery that was extremely helpful to us in our day-to-day fieldwork. Prof. David Germano of the University of Virginia made all of the THL media equipment in LhasaLha sa available to us.

The data on which the map is based was collected during a month-long research trip to Tibet organized by José Cabezón in 2002. Cabezón and David Newman spent almost every day at SeraSe ra. Cabezón was chiefly responsible for identifying all of the major structures within the monastery, gathering data for what was to become the database portion of the map. Newman was chiefly responsible for taking high-resolution digital images and GPS readings at all of the sites. Two student assistants, Taline Goorjian and Alyson Prude, typed up the daily field notes from a digital voice recorder. The monks of SeraSe ra-Tibet were extremely helpful whenever we had questions or problems. In August, Cabezón continued to work at SeraSe ra-India, and here too many monks were extremely helpful in answering questions.

Back in the States, the work continued. In Santa Barbara, José Cabezón created an inductive cataloguing scheme for the images of the monastery, and catalogued all of the 2000+ images, using an image database program called Cumulus. He also created a database of all of the major sub-units of SeraSe ra using Filemaker software, and he wrote narrative descriptions of each of the 80+ buildings, compounds and structures in the monastery. In Charlottesville, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software, Michael Ryan traced a digital map of the monastery from a one-meter resolution satellite image purchased from Digital Globe, and then he and David Newman encoded this digital map based on the information we had gathered in the field. David Newman then used this to create a web-deliverable, Flash map of the monastery, and he created a way to link the various portions of the map to the narrative description of the buildings, to the database, and to our image databank. This map thus represents the labor of many people, and it also represents collaboration at its best. José Cabezón wishes to thank Prof. David Germano in particular for his tremendous support of this very labor-intensive portion of the SeraSe ra Project. Without his willingness to devote THL material and human resources to the project, the map you are about to see would never have been possible.

Go to the interactive map

The Space of Sera (se ra'i khor yug), by José Ignacio Cabezón