Category Archives: Bhutan

Movie-making lama an unusual incarnation: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche interview

Korea Joong Ang Daily
2013-08-09 08:09

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, an innovative Tibetan Buddhist teacher and filmmaker. Provided by Shechen Korea

A notable article about the faith of Tibetan Buddhism is its belief in the reincarnation of prominent religious leaders. Designated incarnations are bestowed the name “Rinpoche.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, who is also known as Khyentse Norbu, is the third incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892), a leading figure of Tibetan Buddhism in the 19th century. He was born in 1961 and was recognized as an incarnation of the famous Buddhist at age 7.

But in addition to being Rinpoche, the spiritual leader has an unlikely attachment to his name: filmmaker. Continue reading

Celebrating art and culture at The Mountain Echoes Lit Fest

mountainechos2011-33Live streaming of the festival here. – Buddhist art news

Times of India
Richa Shukla, TNN Aug 11, 2013, 02.19PM IST

The third day of The Mountain Echoes Literary Festival, 2013 being organized in Bhutan picked up the threads of art and culture from the day before, with a focus on the vibrant mural tradition in Bhutan.

Kesang Choden T. Wangchuk was in conversation with Tshering Tashi where they gave an introduction to the enduring survival and conventions of art forms that are a way of preserving stories. Tshering Tashi started the session by introducing Guru Rinpoche and his teachings. He spoke of how Guru Rinpoche is the one who had brought Buddhism to Bhutan.

Kesang Choden T. Wangchuck spoke about the murals found all over Bhutan and her work towards their restoration. With a presentation full of images of the rarest and most stunning Thankgkas that are a part of her book The Lotus Light Palace Of Guru Rinpoche: Visions Of The Buddhist Paradise in The Sacred Kingdom of Bhutan, she demonstrated how in Buddhist art, the symbols and colors always hold a deeper a meaning. Continue reading

Artists to undertake Himalayan journey in footsteps of Padmasambhava

6 August, 2013

TigersNest The Tiger’s Nest hermitage in Bhutan, one of the many Himalayan power spots associated with Padmasambhava.

On September 7, a team of American artists will begin a seven-week journey of creative discovery across Himalayan Asia, tracing the life and enduring resonance of Padmasambhava, the “Lotus-born” master who is said to have tamed the wild Asian frontiers, blazing the trail for the region’s enduring Buddhist way of life more than 1,200 years ago.

Entitled “Triptych Journey,” the project’s newly revamped website will allow you to follow in real time the poetry, visual artistry, film clips, and dance inspired by the power spots associated with Padmasambhava in Mongolia, Bhutan, Nepal, and India. Continue reading

Exhibition showcases the tremendous aesthetic and material diversity of prayer beads from across Asia

Art Daily
3 August, 2013

Prayer Coral Prayer Beads, Tibet; 19th century coral, turquoise, jade, dzi, clay and silk; Rubin Museum of Art; Gift of Anne Breckenridge Dorsey; C2012.8.

NEW YORK, NY.- Created from precious and semi-precious stones, ivory, wood, seeds, and bone, the prayer beads explored in the Rubin Museum’s exhibition, Count Your Blessings: The Art of Prayer Beads in Asia, exemplify the aesthetic and material diversity and devotional importance of these objects from across Buddhist Asia. Opened on August 2, 2013, the exhibition examines the origins, uses, and significance of prayer beads in the Buddhist traditions of Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan, and Burma. The nearly 80 featured sets of prayer beads come predominantly from the private collection of Anne Dorsey, who gathered them over 20 years while traveling throughout Asia looking for rare and complex examples—approximately 40 of the works on display have been given to the Museum’s permanent collection.

On view through March 24, 2014, the exhibition delves into the histories and varied uses of prayer beads, emphasizing how their arrangement, complexity, materiality, and visual attributes reference their symbolic meaning, practical use, or status. The show addresses the importance of the structure and number of beads in a set to their function in religious practice. Count Your Blessings also includes a few select examples of prayer beads from the Christian, Islamic, and Hindu traditions to help orient audiences and provide parallels with more familiar objects of similar purpose, such as rosaries. Tibetan scroll paintings or thangkas depicting prayer beads as the prominent attributes of the subjects lend an additional visual experience to the exhibition of predominantly three-dimensional objects.

“Count Your Blessings provides us with an opportunity to explore shared cultural approaches to the use of prayer beads in personal devotional practices, chanting, recitation of mantras, and as signs of status, and to highlight their enduring significance from centuries ago to the present day,” said Rubin Museum Curator Elena Pakhoutova. “Prayer beads find expression outside of their immediate cultural context and play a role in our contemporary existence. We are excited to help our diverse audiences find connections between the prayer beads’ traditional meanings and their own lives, and to share the exquisite beauty in their creation.”

The installation will feature interactive components, including a touch screen that will show photographs of contemporary practitioners throughout Tibetan areas of the Himalayas using prayer beads. Various examples of prayer beads made of different materials will allow visitors to experience them in the traditional way, as they would be by Buddhist practitioners. Visitors will also be able to view and read descriptions of select and most representative prayer beads on their hand-held devices and listen to a podcast as well as an audio tour.

Highlights from the exhibition, include:
• A set of turquoise prayer beads from 19th-century Tibet made of turquoise, bone, and silver. Turquoise, considered a jewel and highly regarded by Tibetans, is one of the best materials for prayer beads. Together with beads made of carved bone, which serve as separators, the set is suitable for wrathful deity practices. Its materials denote the high status of its owner. It once belonged to a princess of Derge, in eastern Tibet. The set is among those given to the Museum by Anne Dorsey.
• Rudraksha prayer beads from 19th-century Tibet made of rudraksha, silver, ivory, amber, agate, carnelian, turquoise, and two copper ear picks. Dried berry of the rudraksha tree is named after the wrathful god Rudra, a manifestation of Shiva. In Buddhism, they are employed in the mantra recitations of wrathful deity practices. Rudraksha, the “eye of Rudra/Shiva”, is said to be especially associated with the Ancient (Nyingma) Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The lore of the legendary Indian master Padmasambhava’s visit to Tibet tells a story of his “rosary,” made of rare six-lobed rudrakshabeads that broke. When they were picked up, a few of the beads remained on the ground, and these took root, becoming the source of six-lobed beads treasured by Tibetans. The set is among those given to the Museum by Anne Dorsey.
• Wooden prayer beads with six large separator beads from 19th–20th-century Japan. This unusual set consists of 540 beads and belongs to the Japanese Shingon Buddhist School. Six large separator beads have hollowed out interiors and glass “windows” with bronze frames, which contain small wooden sculptures of deities identified by inscriptions.
• A pressed incense hand “rosary” from 20th-century China made of pressed incense, rose quartz, and kingfisher feather. This hand rosary set exemplifies the combination of the aesthetic, medicinal, and symbolic attributes ascribed to the beads. The pressed incense wrapped in kingfisher feathers would emit a faint fragrance while handled, as it would be heated by the warmth of the fingers. The kingfisher bird is a traditional Chinese symbol of well-being and longevity. The set is among those given to the Museum by Anne Dorsey.



Painting_VAST-300x201The Raven, By Peky Samal | April 18, 2013

Art is a word that constantly redefines our cultural, aesthetic and creative boundaries. During the Second World War, the British government wanted to cut the arts funding and put it into the war efforts prompting Prime Minister Winston Churchill to say, “Then what are we fighting for?”

In Bhutan, we have arrived at a time to ask such a question too. Where are the Arts, or how necessary are the Arts to our society?

As filmmaker, photographer and sometimes writer, Tashi Gyeltshen put it: “One inspired line of poetry can nurture a generation of poets; it can arouse patriotism for a lifetime. Art unites and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.”

He added that when economic progress makes people materialistic, art makes us human and reminds us of Gross National Happiness.

Most artists The Raven spoke to said that Bhutanese culture and history is rich with art in the form of religious scrolls (thangkas), woodwork, exquisite textiles, music, and dance. But many felt that certain “modern” areas like the film industry still have a long way to go before they can move past “commercialism”. Continue reading

A phallus a day keeps the evil away: Phallus art along Bhutan’s Nabji Trail

Matador Network
Paul Sochaczewski
APRIL 10, 2013

Photo: rajkumar1220

“I CAN MAKE you a new phallus, no problem.”

“But we’re leaving in the morning.”

“Trust me.”

Figuring that we could always use a bit more protection against demons in our house in Bangkok, I ordered a flying phallus sculpture from Karma, a village artist in central Bhutan. Of course there was no guarantee that the wooden phallus, once imported to Thailand, would have the same anti-demon properties that it provides to the deeply spiritual people of this small Himalayan country, but I figured it was worth a $10 investment. Continue reading

Bhutan – the photographer’s eye tour

Tour Bhutan

Bhutan-photographers-tours-boysWe know that serious photographers want to see the world in fresh ways. Tour Bhutan has been hosting serious photographers for a decade – we know you do not want a tour that rushes from temple to temple. You want time to see what is really there and capture it to share, or just contemplate at a later time.

Our guides give you plenty of time and space to wander around small villages and market places and will take you to private temples that allow photography inside the temple – an unusual experience for most visitors to Bhutan.

You can choose to do a private photographers tour by yourself or with just a small number of friends or you can join one of our group trips. Group trips can be lots of fun – they are very interactive and at the end of the day we often retire to a quiet cafe and sit around the computer (or digital projector if its a big group) and share our 3 or 4 “best shots of the day”. Continue reading

Artist opens portal to Bhutan in Armstrong

Vernon Morning Star
Kristin Froneman
November 11, 2012


Keith Richards spins the prayer wheel he constructed for his art instillation on the kingdom of Bhutan, This Side of There, at the Armstrong -Spallumcheen Art Gallery.

A pair of red, ruby slippers — a tip off to what you are about to absorb — sits on the floor as you enter.

Inside, Buddhist prayer flags hang from the ceiling, as a huge spinning prayer wheel, used for centuries by monks to accumulate wisdom and good karma and to purify the bad karma, takes up the centre of the space.

Framed wooden windows, highlighted with intricate spires and back dropped with delicate fabric, show backlit portals into a fascinating land and its people.

It’s true, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas —make that, Armstrong — any more. Continue reading


Buddhist Film Festival Bhutan, the first in Drukyul

Stories that can heal and inspire courage!

Bhutan will host its first Buddhist film Festival this October with a selection of six films including the premiere of a film on Yangsi Rinpochoe- Reincarnation is just the beginning- a 97 minutes story on Dilgo Khyentse’s reincarnation living in Bhutan that is just being released worldwide. Director Mark Elliott who filmed Yangsi over a period of 14 year, will present the film.

Movie goers and students of dharma will find the festival an offering of some thought-provoking films- from the courage of Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi who was influenced by a non-violent path in her political journey to the courage of a former addict who was transformed by his contact with meditation in California, in Dharma Punx. Other notable films including Buddha’s Lost Children, an award winning documentary will be also screening in the festival along with a documentary on reincarnate teachers in Bhutan, Born Again Buddhists and one Bhutanese film Bardo- an intermediate spirit. Continue reading

Photographic Pilgrimage to the Land of Guru Rimpoche

Bangkok Post
Published: 21/09/2012

Old Zangdok Palri Lhakhang and Paro Taktsang in the clouds.

Zangdok Palri: The Lotus Light Palace of Guru Rinpoche is book that can never be duplicated.

Not only because the photographic journey took her, in three years, to over 11 temples all around the mountain kingdom of Bhutan, many of which can be reached only after hours of arduous trekking.

Or that the murals she photographed were mostly hidden from public eye, in the inner sanctum of the dzongs, and only partially lit, or that the angles were almost impossible.

Or even that the text on Guru Rinpoche was written by eminent yet reclusive scholars who took a year to research and digest rare and sacred texts sourced from various monasteries before writing into religious Bhutanese text and then translated into English.

But also because this project was inspired and supported by Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck _ Royal Grandmother to the present king of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck _ who even allowed her own private collection of thangka to be included in the book.

As such, it is the most ambitious and comprehensive book on the mythical heavenly abode of Guru Rinpoche as depicted in mural paintings and thangkas in Bhutan. Continue reading