A man who brought Bhutan to the Western readers passes away

AnthonyObituary: We normally give credit only to the author of the book and overlook the work of the publisher. Yet, it is often the publisher who makes a substantial difference in how the book looks, the content flows, and in the overall ranking of the book and its subject in the eyes of the readers.

Anthony Aris was a publisher par excellence, who made such difference to the books he published.

Through his Serindia Publications, he introduced the Western world to the fascinating world of Bhutan and the Himalayas. Gifted with an acute eye for finesse and perfection in book craft, Anthony published a large number of books on Bhutan including The Raven Crown, Views of Medieval Bhutan, Mountain Fortress of Gods, The Dragon’s Gift, Textile Art from Bhutan, Of Rainbows and Clouds and Hidden Land of Happiness.

It is no overstatement to say that his high quality publications on Bhutan made a significant contribution to the positive and posh image Bhutan enjoyed in the West as the country made its debut in the western literary arena in the last half of the twentieth century.

As a person, Anthony Aris was a larger than life figure and a great friend of Bhutan.

As a twin brother of the historian Michael Aris, Anthony first visited Bhutan in the late 1960s. Since then, he and his wife Marie Laure, have made some twenty trips to Bhutan, travelled across the country, made friends among all walks of life and opened the doors of their large house in London to series of Bhutanese visitors.

Through his publications and even his last projects to set up the Aris Centre for Himalayan Studies at Oxford and give assistance to the documentation of the written and oral cultures of Bhutan, Anthony was a stalwart friend and supporter of Bhutan.

Anthony passed away peacefully in his home in London on 14 October 2015 and was survived by wife, son and daughter.

His friends in Thimphu will remember him in a simple prayer at Changangkha on Saturday and rejoice in his kind, sociable character, bouyont way of life and love for Bhutan.

He will be missed by Bhutanese visitors to the UK but the high quality books he published would remain his lasting legacy for Bhutan.

Contributed by 

(Dr) Karma Phuntsho

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