Between microcosm and macrocosm


‘Organized by one of the world’s most respected authorities on the subject with the cooperation of the Japanese publisher Kodansha, this exhibition focuses on the Mandala of the Ngor collection which epitomises the wealth of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in this sector. Buddhism came to Tibet from India at the beginning of the 6th century. By the mid 14th century various schools had been formed, the traditions of which are still alive today. As the Mandala is one of the most important instruments in Tantrism, the various sects and subsects which had grown up over the years each developed a system of theory and practice governing its form and use. Towards the middle of the 19th century Byams pa Kun dga’bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan, lama of the Sa skya monastery in Ngor, drew attention to the need to collect and compile the vast number of Mandala Theories. Acting on his directions three experts, led by Jam dbyangs blo gter dbang po, undertook and completed the work by the end of the century. The result forms the work known as rGyud sde kun btus: it comprises 32 volumes of zylography concerning all the most important Tibetan Buddhist schools and pays particular attention to the tantra taught in the Sa Skya traditions. Of the 139 models represented in the collection, the first 116 are considered of particular significance. As work preceded on the rGyud sde kun btus, Tibetan artists painted the Mandala according to the instructions found in the texts. A total of 139 Mandala were produced on squares of Indian cloth measuring 38.5 × 38.5 cm providing a detailed pictorial representation of the approach and system described in the rGyud sde kun btus. Other collections of the Mandala existed painted in accordance with the rGyud sde kun btus, but the Ngor collection is the only complete series in existence today. It is naturally priceless. The curator of the collection, a former abbot of the Ngor monastery, managed to save the Mandala during the turmoil which followed Tibet’s annexation by China. He finally removed the collection to India for safe-keeping. Some years later he discovered that the ancient monastery of Ngor had been completely destroyed during the devastation accompanying the Cultural Revolution. In 1985 the Japanese publisher Kodansha decided to produce a sumptious monumental 2 volume publication dedicated to the Mandala of the Ngor collection (at a cost of 7 million). Taking advantage of the experience and considerable typographic skills of the Nihon Shashin Company in Kyoto, all 139 Mandalas were reproduced in splendid full-size colour prints (in 5 colours). The volume of accompanying texts is also extremely valuable thanks to wealth of critical and informative detail it contains. The exhibition organized specially for the Meeting has taken advantage of the results of this remarkable editorial achievement.’


23 Agosto 1986 - 30 Agosto 1986


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions