Gateway to Himalayan Art acquaints visitors with the principal concepts of Himalayan art and its cultural contexts. A large multimedia map orients visitors to the geographic scope and diversity of the Himalayan region and adjacent cultural areas that comprise the greater Himalayan cultural sphere, including parts of India, China, and Mongolia. From there, visitors are invited to explore four main sections: Figures and Symbols, Materials and Techniques, Purpose and Function, and Tibetan Art in Context.
The exhibition as a whole provides visitors with tools for contextualizing and understanding the rich artistic traditions presented throughout the Museum. Large format graphic panels in the exhibition explain symbols and gestures used in Himalayan Hindu and Buddhist works of art. A three-dimensional installation presents in detail Nepalese lost wax technique in its six stages. Methods of thangka painting with ground mineral pigments and iconometry (guidelines for proportions) are explained with grid drawings alongside an actual painting of the same subject. In addition to paintings and sculpture, objects such as a stupa, prayer wheel, and ritual implements demonstrate that the accumulation of merit, the secular concerns of long life, wealth, and spiritual gains are sought by patrons, and hoped to be fulfilled through ritual use of these objects.
A Looking Guide, filled with tips for easy recognition of the Buddhist figures and symbols in this and other exhibitions throughout the Museum, is available as a take-home brochure.
Curated by Karl Debreczeny and Elena Pakhoutova
This exhibition is supported, in part, by Contributors to the 2015 Exhibitions Fund.
Image Credit: The Enlightened One, Lord of Shakya Clan Shakyamuni Buddha; Tibet; 18th century; Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton; Rubin Museum of Art; Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin; C2006.66.128 (HAR 75)
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