Category Archives: UK

Early Chinese Buddhist Art from Dunhuang Cave Recreated In London

from Artlyst

Dunhuang, an oasis on the ancient Silk Road in northern China, is known for its caves containing some of the world’s finest examples of Buddhist art, created over a period of 1000 years. Millions visit this UNESCO world heritage site each year.

“We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves” – Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts

From 16 May – 15 June 2017, The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, in Shoreditch, is exhibiting a life-size, exquisitely hand-painted replica of one of the most beautiful Dunhuang caves, Mogao Cave 3. These caves form an enormous complex of temples – of which the Mogao Grottoes are the most famous. They were elaborate, beautifully painted and used as places of meditation, worship and pilgrimage from the 4th to 14th centuries. Desert sand sealed up many of these caves, but in 1900 a treasure trove of 50,000 manuscripts, hidden since the 11th century, was discovered in one of the caves, recording a vibrant history of cultural, scientific and spiritual exchange. Precious manuscripts, prints and textiles from the Dunhuang caves are now preserved by the International Dunhuang Project in collections around the world.

Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, says: “We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves. We hope Londoners and anyone visiting London will take this rare opportunity to see close-up, these exquisite examples of some of the world’s earliest Buddhist artwork – just as pilgrims, traders and worshippers would have made when they stopped at this crucial junction on the ancient Silk Road. We are immensely grateful to the Dunhuang Research Academy and to the Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation for paying us this honour.”

The actual cave is now so fragile it is closed to all visitors. Considered the most important of the ten late-Yuan dynasty caves, Mogao Cave 3 is the only one entirely devoted to the Avalokitesvara Sutra. The exhibition will also feature replicas of other cave murals, sculptures and manuscripts.

The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks. The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks.
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Buddhist leader’s ‘message of hope’ premiered at Scots monastery

The Scotsman, Thursday 16 March 2017

A film charting the life and times of the co-founder of Europe’s first Buddhist monastery yesterday received its world premiere.

The feature-length documentary about Akong Tulku Rinpoche was screened at Kagyu Samye Ling, the Tibetan centre in south-west Scotland he helped established some 60 years ago.

The film, ‘Akong – A Remarkable Life’ charts the former Buddhist leader’s early years in Tibet through to his murder in China in 2013.

Described by its makers as a “message of hope,” the documentary was authorised by Akong Rinpoche before he was stabbed to death. Akong, who was born in 1939, was identified as the reincarnation of Dolma Lhakang, at a monastery in eastern Tibet. He was just four when he was enthroned in the monastery and began his spiritual education.

After the Tibetan uprising against occupying Chinese forces in 1959, the then 19-year-old joined a freedom walk over the Himalayas to India. The gruelling trek saw the party run out of food, with many forced to boil leather shoes and bags to make soup. Out of about 200 people who took part in the walk, Akong was among just 15 survivors.

He eventually made his way to Scotland, where along with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, he founded Samye Ling in Langholm, 30 miles east of Dumfries. Students at the monastery, constructed around a former hunting lodge, have included the late musicians David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.

Vin Harris, executive producer of the film, which features contributions from the likes of Lord Steele, said: “We feel that the film is more a message of hope, a celebration of his life.

“It kind of focuses on the fact that putting compassion into action, rather than being a kind of luxury, is so effective.

“We look at what, as a refugee, he achieved – setting up centres all over the world and helping thousands and thousands of people without compromising that value of compassion.” Last year, two men were sentenced to death in China for the murder of Akong as well as his nephew and driver. A third man was sentenced to three years in jail.


Buddhism in 1970s India: a photo elicitation
24 January 2014


In 1977, my father, Jeremy Goody, or Lokamitra, as known by his Buddhist name, moved permanently to Pune, India from London. Since then, he has been helping work towards the social and spiritual empowerment of the Dalit ex-untouchable community, particularly in the state of Maharashtra. Continue reading

[London Exhibit] Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 – 1900

Masterpieces of Chinese Paintings: 700-1900 is at London’s V&A from 26 October 2013 until 19 January 2014.

Possibly Emperor Huizong, Auspicious Cranes, about 1112, Liaoning Provincial Museum. © The Liaoning Provincial Museum Collection

Possibly Emperor Huizong, Auspicious Cranes, about 1112, Liaoning Provincial Museum. © The Liaoning Provincial Museum Collection

Presenting one of the world’s greatest artistic traditions, Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 – 1900 is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see rare surviving works of art drawn from collections around the world. Explore over 70 of the finest examples of Chinese painting, from small-scale intimate works by monks and literati through to a 14-metre-long scroll painting, many of which are shown together for the first time.

Charting the evolving styles and subjects of painting over a 1200 year period, the exhibition includes figure paintings on silk for religious sites, landscape painting and the introduction of Western influences. A significant number of these masterpieces have never been exhibited in the UK before, from banners, albums and scrolls created for a variety of settings to the materials that reveal the traditional process and techniques of painting on silk.  Continue reading

The V&A’s Masterpieces of Chinese Paintings reveals treasures that have never left Asia

24 Oct 2013

A masterclass in Chinese paintings
A Monkey by Mao Song, from the 13th century is one of many ancient treasures at the V&A (Picture: V&A)

‘I think, maybe, it’s not wise to do this,’ contemplates curator Zhang Hongxing, looking momentarily fazed by the size and scope of his V&A exhibition, Masterpieces Of Chinese Painting 700-1900.

‘It’s a long period; big country. But I’m trying to show the diversity; then people can see the richness. China itself is complicated, so you have to represent that.’

Wise or not, Zhang’s much-anticipated blockbuster survey opens this week. And just how diverse and rich 1,200 years of Chinese artistic tradition really is becomes apparent on our pre-exhibition China trip, which takes us from sandstorm-blasted, 8th-century Buddhist prayer caves in the Gobi desert to the lushly semi-tropical former dynastic capital Hangzhou, via Beijing and Shanghai’s treasure-stuffed great museums.

What emerges is a multi-stranded history of painting that starts with the influences filtering in from the Silk Road, sweeps through dramatic dynastic changes and the ebb and flow of Daoist, Confucian and Chan (Zen) Buddhist thought, ending with some of the first experiments with a synthesis of classical Chinese and Western styles. Continue reading

Moving Buddha: Imagining Sculpture in China [London, UK Lecture]

The Courtauld Institute of Art Events Calendar

When and Where:
Friday 8 November 2013
18.00-19.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre


Modern reproductions of Buddhist sculpture for sale at an antiquities market in Beijing. Photo: Judith Farquhar

Sculpture as we know it did not exist in China. Stone stele and figural objects were produced in abundance for commemorative and religious functions. But these objects were not collected and displayed as sculpture. This lecture will discuss the emergence of Chinese sculpture as two parallel developments. In China from as early as the eighteenth century ancient Buddhist and Daoist images were preserved as antiquities. By the mid-nineteenth century small Buddhist and Daoist images were available in the Chinese antiquities market and were being acquired by private collectors. Foreign residents and visitors to China were unaware of such antiquities and as late as 1904 writers on Chinese art could declare that China had no tradition of monumental sculpture. It was only in 1906 that Okakura Kakuzo acquired the first significant group of Buddhist and Daoist images for a foreign collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. These were imagined as sculpture in the context of the fine art museum. Interestingly, the majority of Chinese images known from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are not genuinely ancient. Many are pious copies based on ancient styles; others are old but restored at a later date, many in the Ming dynasty. Other images are modern works, new votive works as well as forgeries for profit. The whole range of objects from old and rare antiquities to pious copies and restored works to modern productions were not easily distinguishable. Some were imagined as religious objects, some as antiquities, and others as sculpture.

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Wales: New Gallery of Tibetan Calligraphy and Fine Art

 A Gallery solely dedicated to fine Tibetan scriptural art is perhaps the first of its kind in the western world? But is defiantly a first for internationally celebrated contemporary Tibetan calligraphy artist Tashi Mannox.
This September launched the “Tashi Gallery” pleasantly situated in the heart of the famous town of books Hay-on-Wye. This is a very popular destination for it’s surrounding beauty in Brecon Beacon National Park and hosts the yearly internationally acclaimed Hay Book Festival.
The picturesque Welsh border town nestles below the Black Mountains on the banks of the majestic River Wye, is a lively cosmopolitan town that boasts a wealth of arts and literature. Only such a town can comfortably accommodate a Gallery of Dharma art of Eastern origin.
Tashi Gallery exclusively offers original art masterpieces as well as excellent quality limited edition prints of Tashi Mannox’s complete works. Also for Eastern Calligraphy enthusiasts, there is an opportunity to select the finest quality Japanese seal inks, Tashi Mannox has collaborated with the oldest Japanese traditional seal ink makers to create four different color shades of vermilion pigments representing ‘The Four Season’.  This is also the first time such quality inks are made available in the West.
For information and photos, visit Tashi’s blog via the [link].