Featured Topic: Buddhism

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The Tibetan Book of the Dead
University of Virginia Library
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Literature and Artwork on Prayer, Ritual, and Meditation from the Religious Traditions of Tibet, India, and Nepal brings together "some of the great treasures of Tibetan sacred literature and ritual art relating to death and dying..." This online archive of the 1997-98 exhibition features introductory text about Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan perspectives on death and dying, and books and religious art in the Tibetan context, along with texts introduced (with an image and brief description) in the following categories: Sutras; Tantras; The Art of Dying; Transitions to the Other World; Having Once Died and Returned to Life; Tibetan Religion and the Western Imagination. Artworks include scroll paintings, statuary, and ceremonial objects.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/dead/
Tibetan Healing Mandala
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
"In response to the September 11 tragedies, twenty Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery constructed a sand mandala (sacred painting) at the Sackler gallery." With information about mandalas and how they are created and how they heal; about Tibetan Buddhism; a list of frequently asked questions about mandalas; plus time-lapse images showing the creation of the mandala over a two-week period.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/mandala/default.htm
Tibetan Medical Paintings
American Museum of Natural History
"This rare, complete set of 79 Tibetan medical tangkas was painted by the Nepalese tangka artist Romio Shrestha and his Tibetan, Nepalese, and Bhutanese students in Kathmandu during seven years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. ... The medical tangkas form a unique document in the history of medicine. Firmly rooted in Buddhism, Tibetan medical practice drew on diverse earlier traditions, from India, ancient Greece, Persia, pre-Buddhist Tibet, and China, to form a synthesis visually documented in these paintings."

Go to Museum Resource: http://anthro.amnh.org/anthropology/databases/object_fisher.htm
Wutaishan: Pilgrimage to Five Peak Mountain
Rubin Museum of Art
"The sacred mountain Wutaishan (Mount Wutai), located in Shanxi Province, China, is believed to be the earthly abode of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri, and for a thousand years it has been a focus of transnational pilgrimage for the Chinese, Tibetans, Mongols, and Manchus alike." This online archive of a 2007 exhibition features an excellent interactive tool for viewing the "focal point of the exhibition: ... an intricately-detailed, hand-painted woodblock print map of Wutaishan, created in the 19th century by a Mongolian monk at a monastery on Wutaishan, called Cifusi. Six feet wide, this rare map offers a panoramic view of Wutaishan, which can be read as both a primary historical record of the lay of the land and as a declaration of the political primacy of Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhism, claiming Mongolian ethnic and sectarian identity over the mountain."

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=1274
The Arts of Kashmir
Asia Society
"The Arts of Kashmir comprises works of Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic art, including sculpture, painting, and calligraphy loaned from collections in the U.S., Europe, and India. Many of the objects have never been seen outside of India; in some cases they have never been exhibited or published anywhere. To provide a sense of the broad artistic contributions of this famously lush and beautiful region, the exhibition includes examples of stone and bronze sculptures and manuscript paintings, in addition to the fine examples of papier-mâché, carpets, shawls, and embroidery for which Kashmir is renowned."

Go to Museum Resource: http://sites.asiasociety.org/arts/kashmir/
The Arts of Thailand
Victoria and Albert Museum
An introduction to the V&A's new Arts of Thailand exhibit, which "features the museum's finest Thai Buddhist sculptures in bronze and stone spanning the period from the 7th to the 19th centuries, together with works of decorative art in a wide variety of media associated both with the Thai court and with monasteries." Thirty-eight objects are featured online; all objects have descriptions.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/the-arts-of-thailand/
Beliefs Made Visible: Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Art
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
"Explore the basic tenets and influences of Hinduism and Buddhism throughout Asia. Special attention is given to the evolution of Hinduism and Buddhism in India, and the representation of these beliefs in sculpture and religious architecture (stupas, temples, caves, and so on). Includes lessons on the traditions of threshold art and handouts on the symbolic gestures of Buddhas." Please note that the .pdf version of this educator resource packet can be downloaded for free. The PayPal link next to the resource is for buying the packet in booklet form with an image CD and slides.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.asianart.org/educatorresources.htm
Buddhist Sculpture
Victoria and Albert Museum
An introduction to the V&A's new gallery exploring "the major Buddhist sculptural traditions of Asia." Twenty objects are introduced online; all objects have descriptions.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/buddhist_sculpture_gallery/index.html
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