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The Chase and the Dharma

Remarks on Hunting and Wild Animals in Tibetan Painting

Thursday, June 2, 2011
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

Humboldt University of Berlin
Hunting is an unlikely subject matter for an overwhelmingly religious painting tradition, such as exists in Tibetan Buddhist societies. This illustrated keytalk explores the occurrence and nature of images of hunting, hunters, and taming of wild animals found in Tibetan thangka, wall-mural paintings, and painted manuscript illustrations. As an anthropologist and cultural historian, Huber’s purpose is to investigate why these themes of intentional killing and domination of wildlife occur at all in an orthodox Buddhist context, as well as their relationship to what we know of Tibetan social practices, past and present. Imagery is drawn from the collections of the Rubin Museum itself and the Musée Guimet in Paris. This talk is given in preparation for a book project concerning hunting, wildlife and the significance of wild nature for Tibetan societies, tentatively entitled Hunters and Tamers of the High Plateau.
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Toni Huber, PhDis Professor of Tibetan Studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. His current research includes the ethnography of highland Tibeto-Burman societies of the far eastern Himalayas, public ritual (especially pilgrimages and community festivals), and aspects of nomadic pastoralism. His most recent publications include The Holy Land Reborn: Pilgrimage and the Tibetan Reinvention of Buddhist India (The University of Chicago Press, 2008), and Nomads of Eastern Tibet: Social Organization and Economy of a Pastoral Estate in the Kingdom of Dege (with Rinzin Thargyal, Brill, 2007).