Norton Simon Museum opens In the Land of Snow: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas

. April 1, 2014

The Norton Simon Museum presents In the Land of Snow: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas an exhibition on view March 28, 2014 – August 25, 2014.

Buddha and Adorants on the Cosmic Mountain, c. 700 India: Kashmir, 675 725 Bronze with silver and copper inlay 13-1/4 x 9-1/2 x 4-3/4 in. (33.7 x 24.1 x 12.1 cm) The Norton Simon Foundation

Buddha and Adorants on the Cosmic Mountain, c. 700 India: Kashmir, 675 725 Bronze with silver and copper inlay 13-1/4 x 9-1/2 x 4-3/4 in. (33.7 x 24.1 x 12.1 cm) The Norton Simon Foundation

In the Land of Snow is the Museum’s first large-scale exhibition of Himalayan Buddhist art, bringing together exceptional Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhist sculptures along with significant thangka (flat field) paintings from throughout the Himalayan region. Almost all of the Museum’s thangkas are on display for this special occasion, in addition to a number of generous loans. A highlight of the exhibition is the display of a monumental thangka, measuring over 20 feet in height, depicting the Buddha of the Future, Maitreya, flanked by the Eighth Dalai Lama, Jamphel Gyatso, and his tutor, Yongtsin Yeshe Gyaltsen. Constructed of appliqued silk and presented on an elaborate mounting, the thangka was commissioned by the Eighth Dalai Lama for the benefit of his tutor and for the posterity of the Buddhist faith. This is only the second time that this extraordinary painting has been on view at the Museum.

In the Land of Snow explores many facets of Himalayan Buddhist art, including the transmission of Vajrayana Buddhism—from its place of origin in India to its eventual sites of practice in Nepal and Tibet—through the examination of iconic sculptures of the Buddha and of Buddhist deities. Although it is not known when Vajrayana Buddhism first developed, by the seventh century it had become firmly established in India and was taught in the major Buddhist centers and universities. Also known as the “diamond vehicle” because it promised the expedience of enlightenment within a single lifetime, Vajrayana Buddhism appealed to Buddhist rulers and practitioners throughout Asia. Monks from Nepal and Tibet traveled to Buddhist universities in eastern India, such as Nalanda. It was at such monastic universities that Vajrayana techniques and practices were taught and art was made and seen. Monks returned with their new knowledge, influencing the teachings, iconography and aesthetics of Buddhism and Buddhist art at home.

In the Land of Snow affords visitors the opportunity to examine works normally not on view at the Norton Simon Museum, while also learning more about the Buddhist arts and cultures of the Himalayas.

Category: Antiquities

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