Mirror of the Buddha

    October 21, 2011 - March 5, 2012


    Taklungthangpa Chenpo with His Lineage and Manifestations (detail); Eastern Tibet; early 14th century; Distemper on cotton; Private Collection

    In early Tibetan painted portraits, founding masters of important Buddhist schools were often represented as holy personages. Using artistic conventions developed in India, Tibetan artists expressed the Buddhist ideals embodied in a particular person, exalting their human subjects to the level of buddhas.

    Mirror of the Buddha will present exquisite examples of these portraits, painted primarily in the eastern India-inspired Sharri style. Though the Sharri tradition spread from India to many parts of Asia, the style's classic Indian forms, delicate colors, and intricate decorative details were emulated most faithfully by Tibetans and enjoyed particular popularity in Tibet from the 12th to 14th century.

    Marking the third in a series of exhibitions that explores important Tibetan painting styles, Mirror of the Buddha will clarify some of the confusion and correct misidentifications previously posited by Western scholars. It will also analyze  inscriptions and lineages, which are often overlooked yet of critical importance, as tools for dating these works of art.

    Mirror of the Buddha will be complemented by a full-color catalog rich with new scholarship, by curator David Jackson.

    Curated by David Jackson and Christian Luczanits

     

    Exhibition Resources

    Audio Tour

    Download the exhibition audio tour from iTunesU

    Narrated by curator David Jackson.

    Installation Photography

    Click here to see the exhibition installation of Mirror of the Buddha.

    Exhibition Catalog

    Learn more about the catalog for Mirror of the Buddha: Early Portraits from Tibet, written by David P. Jackson with contributions from Donald Rubin, Jan van Alphen, and Christian Luczanits. Learn More

    Schools of Tibetan Buddhism

    This document examines the characteristics of the schools explored in this exhibition and reveal the details that help identify to which tradition a painting belongs.

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    Educator Resource Guide

    Educator Resource Guide for Mirror of the Buddha

     

    Exhibition Catalog

    Mirror of the Buddha
    Early Portraits from Tibet

    David P. Jackson
    with contributions from Donald Rubin, Jan van Alphen, and Christian Luczanits

    Traditional Tibetan art is largely the fruit of Buddhism; it is meant to convey spiritual truths.  In their art, Tibetans aimed at faithfully transmitting and preserving Buddhism as a spiritual discipline as they had learned it from their Indian Buddhist teachers, either directly or through a transmission that included early Tibetan teachers. Each thangka painting was a small contribution to the larger cause of keeping Buddhism alive and radiant.

    In this third volume on Tibetan Painting David Jackson, with Christian Luczanits, investigates painted portraits of such early Tibetan teachers. Images of these eminent personages embodied Buddhist ideals in often idealized human form. In creating these depictions, Tibetan painters of the twelfth through fourteenth century intensely imitated the artistic conventions developed in Pala- and Sena-ruled eastern India (Bengal). This style, called Sharri, spread from India to many parts of Asia, but its classic Indian forms, delicate colors, and intricate decorative details were emulated most faithfully by the Tibetans.

    Price: $75 (Hardcover), $60 (Paperback)

    Member Price: $67.50 (Hardcover), $54 (Paperback)

    Publisher: Rubin Museum of Art, New York
    Distributor: University of Washington Press, Settle and London
    Published: October 2011
    Pages: 240
    ISBN-13: 978-09845190-2-6 (hc), 13: 978-0-9845190-3-3 (pb)

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