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Entries for month: February 2012

Gyantse Kumbum: A Treasure House of Iconography

February 29, 2012 ·

Built in the mid 15th century with work starting in 1427, the murals of the Gyantse Kumbum are undoubtedly the greatest source of Tantric Buddhist iconographic forms anywhere in Tibet, or likely the world. It will take some time before all of the 600 plus images are properly catalogued on the HAR website.

Tags: Murals · additions · Tibet

Bon Monastic Shirts - Left Folding

February 28, 2012 ·

Bon and Buddhist monastic shirts don't always fold in the same direction.

With Buddhist sculpture the shirt typically folds to the right. However, with sets of paintings depicting lineage teachers it is very different and it can go either way. A very good example of this alternating folds is found with the Karma Kamtsang Mahamudra Lineage painting set from Rumtek Monastery. This set of paintings depicts a central Vajradhara in a single composition and each following lineage teacher, also in a single composition, is staggered to the right or the left of the central axis of the painting. In the early compositions of the set all of the paintings that have the teacher on the left have the shirt folded to the left. All of the early teachers on the right with shirts have them folded to the right. The later teachers in the same series begin to be less rigid and some are folded left and some folded right regardless of their position to the right or left of the central axis. This establishes that there is a flexibility with artists painting Buddhist subjects.

The shirts of the Bon tradition are similar to the yungdrung symbol. The yungdrung can only properly be depicted turning to the left. Buddhists generally don't have a preference either way for the direction a yungdrung points. 

The Bon religion typically folds the shirt to the left side in the majority of examples for both painting and sculpture found on the HAR website. Buddhist shirts more often than not will fold to the right side, however for the Buddhists it depends on the artist and the composition.

Tags: additions · Bon Religious Art

Gyantse Dzong (Fortress) - Murals & Architecture

February 27, 2012 ·

The Gyantse Dzong (Fortress) sits high up on a craggy steep hill in the middle of the fertile valley that supports the town of Gyantse. The Dzong has numerous rooms filled with murals of all types. The oldest of the murals are likely to be the many mandala paintings in the Mandala Room at the very top of the Dzong.

Tags: Murals · additions · Tibet

Gyantse Town: Architecture

February 27, 2012 ·

The Town of Gyantse has two overwhelmingly beautiful locations of interest. The first and most striking is the Dzong (fortress) on top of a steep craggy hill at the center of the town. The Dzong has numerous rooms filled with murals of all types. The oldest of the murals are likely to be the many large format mandala paintings in the Mandala Room at the top of the Dzong.

The second location is the walled monastic complex with numerous buildings. The most architecturally striking is the Kumbum, a stupa shaped temple with scores of small outer chapels. To the right side of the Kumbum is the Main Temple of Gyantse with several floors and many rooms filled with murals and spectacular sculpture of all sizes.

Tags: Architecture · additions · Tibet

Manjushri Cave, Sakya Town

February 27, 2012 ·

The Manjushri Cave is located on the North side of Sakya slightly West of the large patch of white earth (sakya). The cave was made famous by Sachen Kunga Nyingpo when he was twelve years old and had entered into a strict six month retreat on the practice of Arapachana Manjushri. Early on there were obstacles but they were removed using the practice of Nila Achala, wrathful, blue in colour, in a kneeling posture. Towards the end of the retreat Arya Manjushri appeared to the young Kunga Nyingpo and spoke the four lines of the Separation From the Four Attachments.

"With attachment to this life - there is no Dharma practitioner;
Attachment to samsara - no renunciation;
Attachment to self-purpose - no Enlightenment Thought;
If grasping arises - there is no view."

The image above is a 2007 photograph of the cave entrance and the shrine inside. A building has also been constructed around the cave to help preserve it from the elements. Almost all of the buildings on the North side of the river are reconstructions built from the 1980s to the present.

Tags: Sakya · additions · Tibet

Protector Temple, Lhakang Chenmo, Sakya Town

February 27, 2012 ·

The Protector Temple of Lhakang Chenmo is a free standing building within the massive compound surrounded by the 30 foot fortress walls. The outside entrance way ceiling is decorated with the stuffed skins of jackals. The shrine is mainly populated with larger than life size masks of the principal Sakya protector deities: Panjarnata Mahakala, Brahmanarupa Mahakala, Shri Devi, Ekajati, and the Five Activity Deities. One corner of the temple is dedicated to the Bamo spirits, a classification of witch that is unique to Sakya - sometimes known as the Three Witches of Sakya. Bamo are subjugated witches that now serve as protector spirits for the Sakya Tradition. They are typically represented as masks with distinctive features for each of the commonly invoked witches: Mamo Rikyi, Namkha Drolma and Shangmo.

It is hard to say whether this building is refurbished or completely re-built in past the few decades. 

There are numerous other smaller protector chapels in the Lhakang Chenmo complex. The towers on the outer walls have numerous chapels of various types.

Tags: Sculpture · additions · Tibet

Ushnishavijaya Stupa of Bari Lotsawa

February 27, 2012 ·

The Ushnishavijaya Stupa which is believed to have survived the destruction of the North Monastery was discovered under the rubble of the roof and walls. It is the stupa in which the mortal remains of Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag (1040-1111) were placed after his death. The stupa is considered one of the four precious sights of Sakya Town.

Tags: Sculpture · additions · Tibet

Hevajra Chapel, Gonkar Monastery - Additional Images

February 25, 2012 ·

Incredible detail images of the Hevajra Chapel of Gonkar Monastery, Central Tibet, have been added to the Ariana Maki Photographic Archive. This monastery is known as the home base of Khyentse Chenmo who is believed to be the founder of the Khyenri style of Tibetan art.

Tags: Murals · additions · Tibet

Sakya Monastery & Town - Updated

February 24, 2012 ·

The Sakya Monastery & Town Page has been updated with 600 images. Not all of the images have been divided into their subject or location themes. This will happen over the next couple of weeks. The Manjushri Cave has been added. This is the location where Sachen Kunga Nyingpo had direct communication with Arya Manjushri during a six month retreat. The Ushnishavijaya Stupa has been added. This is the final resting place for the body of Bari Lotsawa Dharma Drag. Both of these sacred sights are located in the same building on the North side of Sakya to the left of the white patch of earth. The protector chapel of Lhakang Chenmo, the main South Monastery, has also been added.

Tags: additions

Drolma Lhakang - Additional Images

February 24, 2012 ·

Additional images of Drolma Lhakang, Central Tibet, have been added to the Ariana Maki Photographic Archive. This temple, located just outside of Lhasa, was visited by Jowo Atisha in the 11th century.

Tags: additions · Tibet