Bon: The Magic Word

    October 5, 2007 - April 14, 2008


    Bon: The Magic Word is the first exhibition of art to illuminate the Bon, a religious and cultural group living in the Himalayas and Central Asia—a group almost unknown in the Western world. Bon culture and religion pre-date the northern advance of Buddhism onto the Tibetan Plateau in the 7th century. Despite Buddhism's growth in popularity since the 11th century, the Bon religion and culture have continued up to the present day. This eye-opening exhibition will identify a substrate of belief in the spirits of place and natural formations—mountains, sky, rivers, stones, and lakes—springing from Bon that runs through the edifices of religions in the region. It will also begin to train the eye to see distinctive Bon features in the arts of the Himalayas and surrounding regions.

    Exhibition Catalog

    Bon: The Magic Word
    The Indigenous Religion of Tibet

    Samten G. Karmay and Jeff Watt, Editors
    Authors: David L. Snellgrove, Jeff Watt, Samten G. Karmay, Per Kvaerne, Dan Martin, Charles Ramble, and Henk Blezer

    "Accepting everything, refusing nothing through the centuries, it is the one all-embracing form of Tibetan religion," the leading Tibetan scholar David L. Snellgrove once said of Bon. This book, the first of its kind to be dedicated solely to the art of Bon religion and culture, aims to explore and reveal the many hidden treasures of this long-overlooked religion. Engaging with great scholars of the field, in particular Samten G. Karmay, the reader is invited to delve into this rich culture. Jeff Watt, curator at the Rubin Museum of Art, defines the field by differentiating between Bon and Buddhist art, with which it so often confused. The other contributors look at specific topics within Bon, including the roots of the religion, its paintings, and its sacred geography, and set the fascinating art and artifacts that are so central to Bon learning within their proper context. The purpose of this book is to inspire an appreciation of the beauty of Bon art while simultaneously enabling an understanding of the ethos of Bon, from its obscure beginnings to the beliefs of the million or more Bonpo practitioners of today.

    Original Price: $34.95

    Member Price: $31.45

    Publisher: Rubin Museum of Art, New York, and Philip Wilson Publisher, London
    Published: October 2007
    Binding: Hardcover and Paperback
    Pages: 232
    ISBN: 978-0856676499 (hc), 978-0977213122 (pb)

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