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Category: himalayas

Lopen Neten and Lopen Gyem performing pujas

16 April, 2009 (05:00) | himalayas, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

In conjunction with its exhibition The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, the Asian Art Museum is hosting two Bhutanese monks, Lopen Neten, who is from eastern Bhutan, and Lopen Gyem, who is from western Bhutan. The monks created a beautiful sand mandala that can be glimpsed in this video and are now working on a second one.

Usually work on the mandala occurs around 1:00. At about 11:00 and 3:00 the monks perform their prayer, or pujas, as viewed here from the second floor walkway.

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Ani Choying Drolmna

3 March, 2009 (05:00) | himalayas, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

The recording of Ani Choying Drolma, a nun from Nepal, was made at a concert in Munich in 2007. The YouTube posting entitles the performance “Ganesha Mantra.”

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Vajrabhairava’s war dance

9 February, 2009 (05:00) | himalayas, paintings, premodern-modern | By: xensen

Dancing Vajrabhairava

I love this very blue blue meanie from The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, a show that’s about to open at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Despite appearances, he’s not really a meanie. He’s a wrathful deity and — so long as you are on the side of the true dharma — he’s your friend. Wrathful deities protect against malevolent forces. As a result, few images of wrathful deities were allowed to be removed from Bhutan for the exhibition, for fear of leaving the country unprotected.

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Photo Wednesday: Buddhist monk from Bhutan

14 May, 2008 (05:00) | himalayas, prints/photographs | By: xensen

buddhist monk from bhutanbhutan

This painterly image of a young Bhutanese Buddhist monk comes from Curr_En’s photostream.

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Wang Yi Guang

10 March, 2008 (05:00) | 20th c, china, himalayas, paintings | By: xensen

wang yi guang

Wang Yi Guang is a Chinese artist who studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. He has produced a series of romanticized visions of gambols in the fields of Tibet. According to Paintalicious

Wang’s fond memories of Tibet — particularly catching sight of young girls running and laughing across the magnificent Tibetan plains, their sheep and cattle in tow — remind the artist that Feitain (or flying Devi, a mystical character, which is primarily found in the murals at Dunhuang and in sculptural forms in a handful of cave grottoes in China) does exist in life.

Do these paintings have a political agenda? I’d like to think not.

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Shown is River to Paradise, O/C, 130 x 140 cm, 2004.

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Tibet in the early 1940s

14 January, 2008 (05:00) | 20th c, himalayas, prints/photographs | By: xensen

himalayan stupas

The Asian Studies department at Skidmore College has posted posted several photos from Tibet in the early 40s, such as this picture of unidentified stupas. The photos were taken by members of the Tolstoy expedition of 1942-43 — two U.S. Army officers, Lt. Col. Ilya Tolstoy and Capt. Brooke Dolan entered from India to explore possible routes for supplied Chiang Kai-shek with military supplies. That mission didn’t prove fruitful, but the photographic legacy is wonderful.

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Tsering Nyandak

7 January, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, himalayas, paintings | By: xensen

tsering nyandak, buddha

I was reading recently about the inaugural show of London’s Rossi & Rossi gallery in its new, larger space at 16 Clifford Street. The show, an exhibition of contemporary Himalayan art called Consciousness and Form, is over now, but one of its artists, Tsering Nyandak, caught my eye. This wonderfully enigmatic painting is called simply Buddha (photo by Jason Sangster). According to the gallery

Tsering Nyandak was born in Lhasa in 1974. From 1985 to 1993 he lived and studied in Dharamsala (India). In 1993, after returning to Tibet, he started studying art under Tsewang Tashi. He has participated in various exhibitions in China, Germany and Nepal and is a founding member of the Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild. For Tsering Nyandak, being an artist is about self-expression and is not culturally stereotypical.

The website of the Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild is here.

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The race to save the Mogao frescoes

4 December, 2007 (05:00) | china, classical, himalayas, medieval, paintings, sculpture | By: xensen

bodhisattva image from mogao grottoes at dunhuang, china

The Mogao grottoes at Dunhuang in China are one of the world’s richest art treasures. Dunhuang, though far from the center of Chinese civilization, was a key stop on the Silk Road. The Silk Road was not only a trade route for merchandise, it was also the route by which Buddhism was introduced to China, and Dunhuang is home to nearly 500 caves that served as Buddhist temples. The cave-temples are full of thousands of murals and sculptures, created between the fourth and fourteenth centuries.

For centuries the region’s remoteness and arid climate preserved that artworks is good condition. But today, according to this report, the murals are “fading away from age, tourist pressures and climate change.” The report goes on to describe efforts to photograph and preserve the art works.

restroing the mogao grotto frescos at dunhuang

A race is on to arrest the deterioration of the UN World Heritage site, which occupies 492 different cave temples along a 1.6-kilometre (one-mile) long cliff face near the ancient Silk Road oasis town of Dunhuang.

That decline has accelerated in recent years due in large part to desertification caused by climate change, said Wang Xudong, head of the Dunhuang Academy, the state-run institution that studies and maintains the grottoes.

More-frequent sandstorms from the nearby Kumtag desert are upsetting the fragile environmental balance inside the caves.

“Our biggest challenge is protecting the interior environment of the caves, especially from sandstorms, which are the biggest risk here,” he said.

But it’s a complex and painstaking task.

“Each cave has its own unique mineral, temperature, and moisture situation. We have to treat each one differently. We are learning every day,” Wang said.

The top image of a bodhisattva appears in a Tantric Buddhist painting in Cave 14. Dating from the Tang dynasty (618–906), it probably reflects a Tibetan influence; Dunhuang was under Tibetan rule during a some of the Tang. The second image accompanied the news article; I have done a little restoration work of my own on it.

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Himalayan art on a giant scale

23 November, 2007 (11:13) | contemporary, himalayas, paintings | By: xensen

giant tibetan thangka

This image of a giant thangka (devotional painting on cloth) produced for the annual Shoton festival in at the Drepung monastery in Lhasa, Tibet, was taken by Chris Webster.

The monastery was founded in 1416, and remains a popular pilgrimage destination. Shoton means “yogurt banquet,” and the Autumn festival celebrates the yogurt that was traditional provided to monks following their austere hundred-day summer retreat.

The Ruben Museum in New York is showing an exhibition of such large objects, through March 17, 2008. The museum’s website offers this brief description of the show, entitled BIG! Himalayan Art:

This exhibition presents the largest objects from RMA’s collection in a dazzling display of brightly colored paintings and explores the reasons for creating the even larger tangkas (Tibetan scroll paintings and textiles) that are majestically draped over mountainsides and in valleys. These large works are the focus of community celebrations and accrue merit for all who participate.

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