Gateway to Himalayan Art introduces visitors to the main forms, concepts, and meanings of Himalayan art represented in our collection. A large multimedia map orients the visitors and highlights cultural regions of a diverse Himalayan cultural sphere that includes parts of present day India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Mongolia. Visitors are invited to explore exemplary objects from the Museum’s collection, organized and presented in thematic sections: Figures and Symbols, Materials and Techniques, and Purpose and Function.
The exhibition employs a concise and informative approach to convey the principal notions inherent in the rich traditions of Himalayan art to first-time visitors and specialists alike. In addition to sculptures and paintings, objects such as a stupa, prayer wheel, and ritual implements demonstrate that their patrons sought the accumulation of merit and hoped for wealth, long life, and spiritual gains, all to be fulfilled through the ritual use of these objects and commissioning works of art.
Among the featured installations are a display that explains the process of Nepalese lost-wax metal casting and a presentation of the stages of Tibetan hanging scroll painting (thangka). Visitors will also encounter life-size reproductions of murals from Tibet’s Lukhang Temple, photographed by Thomas Laird and Clint Clemens.
As a whole, the exhibition provides visitors with tools for understanding the artistic traditions presented throughout the museum, including a Looking Guide, a take away brochure and an audio guide.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the art traditions of the Himalayas are extensively documented in Himalayan Art, providing a rare glimpse into a world that is fast becoming extinct due to the pressures of modernity. The region has acted as a womb for the gestation of unique cultures, each with its own tapestry of beliefs, customs, art, architecture, crafts, cuisines, and so on. Much of Himalayan art, especially architecture, paintings, sculpture are rooted in religious practices, rituals, and beliefs. Buddhism, Hinduism, Bon Shamanism, and different tribal cultures form the major wisdom traditions that have nurtured singular art forms. Himalayan Art showcases art from the culturally rich and diverse Himalayan regions. From glowing thangkas (scroll paintings), ritual daggers, fierce masks to serene stupas, majestic monasteries, and palaces to impermanent sand mandalas.Alongside, there is the everyday art of handmade fabrics, finely woven shawls, exquisite embroidery, intricate wood and stone carving. In this book, the sacred unites with the secular to make for a stunning, enriching, and magical experience.
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