Facets of the Three Jewels: Tibetan Buddhist Art
from the Collections of George E. Hibbard and the Saint Louis Art Museum
July 4, 2014–February 22, 2015
From intricate paintings and sparkling bronzes to specialized ritual objects, the visual culture of Buddhism expresses deep religious ideas across a spectrum of philosophical, ethical, and cosmological concerns. This exhibition elucidates the visual language of such art works, establishing them as conveyors of religious meaning as well as objects of exquisite craftsmanship.
Facets of the Three Jewels is organized around the three foundations of Buddhism: the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, his teachings, and the community of followers who practice and propagate those teachings through history. Without any of these three “jewels,” Buddhism could not exist. Highlights of the exhibition include fabulous 18th-century thangkas (banner paintings) from a set of illustrations of the Buddha’s previous lives. Another rare, 15th-century textile image embodies the pinnacle of Tibeto-Chinese craftsmanship. The exhibition contains objects representing styles of art from Nepal, Tibet, and China, including paintings of meditative rituals, bronze sculptures of deities, and textile images created through appliqué, weaving, and embroidery.
Many of the objects come from the collection of St. Louis local George E. Hibbard, whose longstanding interest in Tibetan art involved contributions to scholarship in addition to the accumulation of important works.
Facets of the Three Jewels is curated by Eric Huntington, the Mellon Fellow in South Asian Art for 2013–2014.