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The Cosmic Mandala

With Dr. Francoise Pommaret

Saturday, January 30, 2010
1:30 PM–3:30 PM

Cosmic mandalas are a well-established tradition in the Tibetan Buddhist world, and their origin is found in cosmological Buddhist texts, some dating back to the 4th century CE.
Cosmic mandalas represent a universe very different from any in modern Western theory, a universe where deities and humankind live in different spheres made of precious jewels and protected by great mountains.
Nowhere is this tradition of painting the cosmos as a mandala as present as in the Kingdom of Bhutan. From delicate vivid details to geometrical abstractions, these paintings offer not only a great aesthetic experience, but also a symbolic voyage through the Buddhist cosmos of the Himalayas.
Ethno-historian Francoise Pommaret is Director of Research at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris. She has travelled extensively through the Himalayan world and has been associated with Bhutan in different capacities since 1981. She is presently adviser at the Institute of Language and Culture (ILCS), Royal University of Bhutan. Her Bhutan, Himalayan Mountain Kingdom is the first cultural guidebook on the country and is in its ninth edition (2009). Pommaret is co-editor and co-author of Bhutan: Mountain Fortress of the Gods as well as of Bhutan: Tradition and Change. Her most recent book to be published in the U.S. is Tibet, an Enduring Civilization