Category Archives: ancient art

Seeking Shambhala – an exhibition at Boston Fine Arts Museum


Exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston opens an exhibition featuring 17th century and contemporary Tibetan Art.

According to ancient Tibetan Buddhist and Bon texts, Shambhala is a fabulous kingdom hidden by mist and a ring of snowcovered mountains, where the rulers safeguard the Kalachakra Tantra, sacred teachings about the “Wheel of Time” that, through practice and meditation, allows one to achieve enlightenment. The texts also foretell of a world that descends into chaos and war, and of one king who will emerge after the apocalypse to restore order and prosperity in the year 2424.

Shambhala is a Sanskrit word describing a mythical land whose exact location is hidden behind mist of snow-capped mountains, where peace reigns, wealth abounds, and there is no illness. The West was first introduced to the concept as “Shangri-la” in the 1930s book and film Lost Horizon, but Shambhala, in both physical and spiritual senses, has been part of Tibetan Buddhist art and culture for centuries. “Seeking Shambhala” explores this spiritual realm within the Tibetan tradition, and brings to the fore two contemporary artists’ personal journeys to Shambhala.

In 1906, the Museum acquired a set of 17th-century Tibetan paintings depicting the mythical Shambhala kings and the Buddha. Tibetan Buddhist scriptures state that there have been and will be 32 kings (we are currently in the reign of the 28th) and that the last will usher in an age of enlightenment.

The paintings have been recently conserved and restored back into traditional thangka (hanging scroll) mounts. “Seeking Shambhala” presents these 23 paintings along with Buddhist ritual implements, sculpture, and other objects, putting these colorful, complex images in context.

Also on view will be works by Japanese graphic artist Tadanori Yokoo, including his SHAMBALA series of prints produced in 1974. The contemporary Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyatso

Fine Arts Museum Boston Exhibition

, whose collage titled The Shambala in Modern Times was shown at the 53rd Venice Biennale, will also be represented.

Link to the exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum Boston

Gonkar Gyatso - Dissected Buddah

 

Gonkar-Gyarso- Modern Times

 

Fine Arts Museum Boston Exhibition

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Korean Art & Culture


Korean Art & Culture

A fascinating publication from the Peabody Essex Museum, explores the Art and culture of Korea including Shamanism, and Buddhism. Also delves into the symbolism of the art – very interesting,  very accessible, and contains very nice colour plates.

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Traditional Shaman Art from Korea


Shaman Art from Korea

The Newsletter of the Korean Art Society 2009 about the Traditional Shaman art of Korea. The newsletter is an outstanding resource of information containing detailed narratives on the depicted paintings. Robert Turley the President of the Society, writes in his introduction;

“My reasons for loving Korean art are its unaffected sincerity, earthy soulfulness, absence of artifice, energetic sense of humor, and effortless reverence for and affinity with nature. These are qualities that are well expressed in the folk art of Korea. Art that is by and for the people and that is not art for art’s sake. It’s the same qualities that draw me to early acoustic blues, tribal art, and any other unfiltered and unfettered expression of humankind’s common yearnings, fears, disappointments, and triumphs. Within the broad realm of Korean folk art, shaman art expresses the deepest desires of the Korean people.The shaman’s art and implements, such as paintings, masks, and costumes are a fundamental part of shaman rituals to protect the home, heal the sick, divine the future, communicate with the deceased, bless and protect the crop, wedding, family, and newborn baby, and provide the people with a sense of well-being and purpose.

While the court ordained official theology and commissioned art supportive of it, the commoners, from a life really lived, created and through the centuries have held onto a most syncretic belief system that borrows from Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, ancient animism, and elsewhere, and that engenders a strong connection to nature and its energy. Korean shamanism encourages a healthy defiance against official dogma, and an open-mindedness and sincerity that guides the creators and commissioners of these powerful works of art. That is why these wonderful creations by and for the people speak so directly to persons of all persuasions even today”.

The Gahoe Museum in Seoul houses a beautiful collection of traditional shaman art.

Shaman Art from Korea

Shaman Art from Korea

Shaman Art from Korea

Shaman Art from Korea

Shaman Art from Korea

Shaman Art from Korea

Shaman Art from Korea

Shaman Art from Korea

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Babylon – an Exhibition at the British Museum


Babylon was one of the greatest cities in the ancient world, widely regarded as ‘the cradle of civilisation‘. The exhibition at the British Museum explored the treasures of this city during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II. The strong, bold and unique art of the ancient Sumerian / Babylonian culture never fails to impress me. I have some photos somewhere of the exhibition but they are on my Blackberry but the connection thingy isn’t working – when I get around to sorting it out, I’ll add them to this post.

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