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Medical Murals at Labrang Monastery

With Katharina Sabernig

Saturday, March 22, 2014
5:15 PM–6:30 PM

Scholar Katharina Sabernig takes a very close look at the fascinating medical murals at the Labrang Monastery.

Scholar Katharina Sabernig takes us through the courtyard of the medical College at Labrang Monastery in China’s Gansu Province. There the visitor finds a series of murals depicting the first and the second part of the Four Tantras in the form of so-called unfolded trees. The murals are fascinating works of art illustrating traditional knowledge of Tibetan medicine. Their meaning is not obvious for the ordinary viewer but the arboreal structure, using leaves of different color and shape, is meant to guide an aspiring physician. The paintings are based on a text written by Darmo Menrampa Lozang Chodrag, the personal physician of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Both didactically intriguing and visually captivating, they seem to complement the famous set of thangkas illustrating the Blue Beryl commentary of the Four Tantras compiled by Desi Sangye Gyatso. After the destructive years of the Cultural Revolution, the original murals at Labrang Monastery have been repainted skilfully. They indicate a time of revitalisation of Tibetan Medicine and still form a vivid part of Labrang’s medical culture.
Katharina Sabernig completed her medical education in Vienna. Additionally, she attended MA and PhD level courses in anthropology in the Viennese tradition of “ethnomedicine”. At present she is an independent academic scholar associated with the Medical University of Vienna and the Institute of Social Anthropology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. She also works as a lecturer for different fields of Tibetan Medicine at the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna. Beyond her research on the murals at Labrang her interests focus on different kinds of medical illustrations, history, terminology and the development of new ideas in Tibetan medicine, particularly in the field of anatomy.

Bodies In Balance: The Essentials

A full weekend of talks and demonstrations on the rich subject of Tibetan medicine and concepts of wellbeing. Scholars, medical practitioners and experts meet to share their experience in eleven separate presentations. For those who wish to immerse themselves in the concepts of Tibetan medical practice, this is the weekend for you.
A conference to deepen your appreciation of the exhibitionBodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine.

See Full Schedule