Tibet 2.0

Tashi Norbu's Circle of Khataks suggests the performance of “Tibetanness.”

Tashi Norbu’s Circle of Khataks suggests the performance of “Tibetanness.”

April 01, 2015
A new contemporary art show asks what it means to be Tibetan.

Anne Doran

Art Benchung Buddhism China contemporary art Events Gade Gonkar Gyatso New York art News Review Tenzing Rigdol Tibet Tibetan Buddhism Trace Foundation Tibetan Social Justice Arts & Culture

Transcending Tibet
Through April 12, 2015
Rogue Space, New York

Organizing an art show around a geographic region or ethnic group is treacherous: it can easily result in a grouping of works that otherwise have nothing in common or, worse, reinforce unwanted stereotypes. Transcending Tibet—presented by the Trace Foundation in partnership with Arthub Asia—is alert to these dangers and does a good job of avoiding most of them.

Curators David Quadrio and Paola Vanzo accomplished this by commissioning all new pieces for the show. They asked 26 Tibetan artists—living both in and outside Tibet—and four non-Tibetan artists influenced by Tibetan culture to respond to the question “What does it mean to be Tibetan today?” On view at Rogue Space in Chelsea are 30 different answers.

For both the curators and the artists, “Transcending Tibet” means transcending the image of Tibet as both a mysterious Shangri-La (an image embedded in the Western imagination since the time of Marco Polo and energetically promoted by Chinese tourist boards) and as a political cause (for groups promoting human rights and democratic freedoms in the Tibetan region, since 1951 a part of the People’s Republic of China [PRC]).

Transcending Tibet also means, in many cases, transcending tradition. Most of the artists included in the exhibition struggle to find a balance between preserving Tibetan culture (which is also primarily a Buddhist culture) and addressing the contemporary realities—such as modernization, urbanization, and the secularization of Tibetan culture—of those living in Tibet and its diaspora.

Many of these artists, including Rabkar Wangchuk and Tulku Jamyang, update the forms of traditional Tibetan Buddhist thangka paintings, prayer scrolls, and folio scriptures. Others adopt the tropes of Western Pop Art, as in the case of TseKal, or Communist Socialist Realism, as does Pempa (who, like many Tibetans, uses only one name). Although some Tibetan contemporary artists produce abstract paintings, and while much Tibetan traditional art, from sand mandalas to textiles, features reductive images or geometric designs, the show does not include any nonobjective art. Even Pema Rinzin, an artist known for abstraction, is represented here by a painting of stylized, but recognizable antelopes. The omission constitutes one of the show’s few missteps—some examples of non-illustrational art would have helped balance its occasionally didactic tone.

Of the artists employing traditional Buddhist imagery, some retain its original meaning in works meant to express their faith, while others repurpose it to convey a social or political message. In the former category is Livia Liverani, an Italian who has studied classic Tibetan sacred art. Isolating visual elements from traditional thangka paintings, she presents them as delicate appliqued and painted images. Her work for this exhibition depicts the blue, three-faced, six-armed Vajrayana deity Guyasmaja engaging in sexual intercourse with his consort. Representing the union of wisdom and compassion necessary for full enlightenment, the couple—flanked by flowering plants cut from Japanese textiles—floats on a pure orange ground.

Other devotional artworks include Puntsok Tsering’s calligraphy spelling out the words for “butter lamp”—a ritual object used to make the traditional offering of light—and Chinese artist Lu Yang’s digital animation Wrathful King Kong Core, which advances the practice of analytical meditation by explaining scientifically how the brain can become wired for anger (and rewired through mindfulness). More ambiguous is Jhamsang’s depiction of the Buddha of long life, Ushnishavijaya. Trained as a thangka painter, Jhamsang here employs a traditional technique of fine black lines on a gold ground but presents the deity as a robot, invoking the language of anime to indicate the goddess’s superhuman powers—or perhaps comment on contemporary society’s devotion to technology.
Continue reading

Academia.edu Roundup

Some articles of interest recently posted on Academia.edu:

“A Votive Prayer and Dedication on an Early Thangka of sMan bla”
by Amy Heller
Study of a thangka of the Buddha of Healing from western Tibet or the Western Himalayas, attributed to late 11th to 12th century, in the context of a review of the development of the iconography of the Buddha of Healing from Dunhuang to the earliest representations in mural paintings of Western Tibet. This painting is part of a corpus of several paintings attributed to Western Tibet/ Western Himalayas, now conserved in the Pritzker Collection, which exhibit specific techniques of preparation of canvas similar to Indian antecedents according to a painting conservator. This article also… [more]

Review of: Amy Heller & Giacomella Orofino. Discoveries in Western Tibet and the Western Himalayas: Essays on History, Literature, Archaeology and Art
by Christian Luczanits
Piats 2003: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford, 2003. Brill’s Tibetan Studies Library, vol. 10/8. In: Journal of the American Oriental Society 129 (3), no. 3 (2009): 503-5.

“Imperial Interest Made Manifest: sGa A gnyan dam pa’s Mahākāla Protector Chapel of the Tre shod Maṇḍala Plain.”
by Karl Debreczeny

Book Review of The Black Hat Eccentric (Indologica, October 2012) by M. Maria Przyjemska (Bonn University)
by Karl Debreczeny

An Inscription on the Pedestal of a Kashmirian Buddha Image
by Alexis Sanderson
The transcription and translation of this inscription from 7th-century Kashmir, prepared by Oskar von Hinueber and published with a photograph of the image in Ulrich von Schroeder 2001, are corrected here, providing in place of a text that made little sense without assuming that its author’s Sanskrit was wildly inaccurate and his thought disordered an elegant and fully coherent dedicatory verse in faultless Sanskrit.

Treasure Caretaker Training in Bhutan





Those interested can contact annshaftel@me.com.

India keenly exploring possibility of extending TVoA to China: Union Tourism Minister

Travel Biz Monitor
Saturday, 04 April, 2015, 16 : 00 PM [IST]

By TBM Staff | Mumbai
At a recent meeting in New Delhi with a six-member delegation from China’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Culture and Tourism and Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Government of India, said that the nation is keen to take forward its relationship with China and it is in this background that they are keenly exploring the possibility of extending the facility of Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) to China. The Chinese delegation was led by Wang Zuoan, Minister of Religious Affairs of China.

The purpose of the visit by the Chinese delegation was to take the cooperation with India further, especially in the area of Buddhist studies and exchange. The Buddhist Forum is being held in China in October this year to promote research and Buddhist studies, he added.

Welcoming the delegation, Dr Sharma said that Buddhism is the binding force between the two countries, and India values the common cultural relations with China, especially those based on Buddhist links, as per a PIB release.

Both sides agreed to work towards holding a jointly-curated exhibition on Xuang Zang (Hsuan tsang) in India and China. India has also proposed to host Virtual Museums on Indian Culture on Chinese platforms.

DG, ASI and DG, National Museum will visit China for the purpose of academics and research on the cave murals of Aurangabad (Ajanta & Ellora), and Dunhuang (China). India also requested China to provide Buddhist texts, if any, in Chinese Temples to India for translation into Sanskrit.

Also present at the meeting was Ravindra Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, who informed that an exhibition on Buddhist Art was recently held in Shanghai and the same was visited by three lakh people. An exhibition of Modern Art will be organised soon in Guangzhou by NGMA of Ministry of Culture.


7 held with ancient Buddha statue

 The statute is believed to be around 300 years old The statute is believed to be around 300 years old Photo by : Post Photo

The statute is believed to be around 300 years old The statute is believed to be around 300 years old Photo by : Post Photo

Kathmandu Post

NEPALGUNJ, FEB 05 – Police arrested seven people, including two women, in possession of ancient statue of Lord Buddha believed to be around 300 years old, from Banke on Thursday.

The arrestees are Chhetra Bahadur BC, 36, of Salyan; Shiva Singh, 22, of Jajarkot; Nabaraj Yogi, 24, and Padma Chaudhary, 29, of Banke; Jit Prasad Chaurel, 28, and Laxmi, 24, of Okhaldhunga and Bikash Shahi, 26, of Humla. They had been staying at a Agaiya Bazaar-based hotel in Kachanapur-1 since January 27.

As per the statement of the arrestees, a police team from Area Police Office in Kohalpur recovered the idol from an animal shed belonging to Gurulal Chaudhary at Baijapur-2 in the district. The statue is 10 inches tall, 8 inches wide and weighs 11.89 kilograms.

Police suspect that the smugglers hid the idol in the shed in order to smuggle it to India through Nepalgunj border point. Police claimed the arrestees are members of an organised group of smugglers. “Preliminary probe shows that the arrestees are involved in idol smuggling. Further investigation is under way,” said a police officer involved in the investigation.

“We kept them under surveillance as they, hailing from various districts, were found living in the cottage for days in suspicious circumstances. During interrogation, it was revealed that they were involved in stealing and smuggling ancient statues,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Janak Shahi said, adding that they told police that they purchased the statue from Dolpa-based businessman Badal Thapa for

Rs 800,000.


Buddhist circuit at Karukonda could be a huge draw

KHAMMAM, TELANGANA, 19/03/2015: A view of Buddhist site on Karukonda hillock in Khathagudem Mandal of Khammam District

KHAMMAM, TELANGANA, 19/03/2015: A view of Buddhist site on Karukonda hillock in Khathagudem Mandal of Khammam District

The Hindu
March 27, 2015 10:43

The rich cultural heritage enshrined in the ancient Buddhist site on Karukonda hillock at Ramavaram in Kothagudem mandal has potential to give a fillip to tourism in the coal belt region.

About 6 km from Kothagudem, the Buddhist site, encompassing two Buddhist monuments, stands testimony to a hoary past.

One of the monuments is a big boulder having Buddhist sculptures in the niches on the four sides. On each cardinal side, there is a niche in which the image of Buddha is carved in full relief, seated on Padmasana (Lotus throne) in a meditative posture.

The second monument is a masterpiece of Buddhist art. It has two cells cut in a single piece of rock and the walls are sculptured with the figures of Buddha with a Chauri bearer on each side and Dwarapalakas, according to sources in the Department of Archaeology and Museums.

The historical site, a protected monument under the relevant act, remained neglected until recently.

Lack of protection has taken a toll on the Buddhist sculptures at the ancient site.

Thanks to the recent initiative of the Department of Archaeology and Museums of the Telangana government, the area surrounding the site has been fenced as part of a restoration project initiated recently.

The district is endowed with two ancient Buddhist sites – one in Nelakondapalli and another at Karukonda, remarks Radhakrishna of Kothagudem.

The Telangana government should develop a tourist circuit between the two ancient Buddhist sites, which are well-connected by road from Hyderabad, he suggests. If restored and developed fully, the site is bound to become a major tourist attraction, he affirms.

The scattered debris and weed at the Buddhist site had been removed under the initial phase of the conservation and restoration works, says B. Ramulu Naik, in-charge assistant director, Archaeology Department, Warangal.

A chain link fence had been laid around the site as part of efforts to protect the Buddhist monument at an estimated cost of Rs. 10 lakh.


Local composer Imee Ooi is stepping into the spotlight

Ray of light: Ooi hopes her concert, Sound Of Wisdom, could be used as a platform for young people to use their talents positively.

Ray of light: Ooi hopes her concert, Sound Of Wisdom, could be used as a platform for young people to use their talents positively.


After mostly performing in a record studio, the Taiping-born composer is doing a concert for her fans.

After nearly two decades of working behind-the-scenes, noted local composer and singer Imee Ooi is all ready to step into the spotlight.

She is set to take on a stageside role in the show series called Sound of Wisdom at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur (July 30 to Aug 3).

Ooi is also featured prominently on the concert poster. While her face may not all be that familiar, many will no doubt recognise her music.

Ray of light: Ooi hopes her concert, Sound Of Wisdom, could be used as a platform for young people to use their talents positively.
Her calming voice and New Age compositions have been featured in over 40 Buddhist-inspired music albums. The best-selling album The Chant Of Metta (1999) is arguably her most famous work, released in Mandarin and English.

Apart from her records, Ooi, who was born in Taiping, Perak, is also responsible for composing many acclaimed local musicals, such as Siddhartha (1999), Above Full Moon (2004), The Perfect Circle (2005), Princess Wen Cheng (2008) and KITA (2010).

Sound Of Wisdom is Imee’s debut performance where she makes her first ever stage appearance in 18 years of music-making.

“You could say it’s by so-called ‘demand’. I have been invited to sing or do concerts locally and overseas over the past years, but I turned down those opportunities.” says Ooi with a laugh in a recent interview about why she has decided to take on a performing role. Continue reading