Skip to main content

Himalayan Paintings for Buddhist Meditation: Visualization of Passion and Enlightenment

March 25–October 16, 1995

For the peoples of the Himalayas, Buddhism is much more than a religion; it is dharma, "the way," a profound approach to life that underlies their art, literature, music, medicine, and family life. The natural isolation of the immense mountainous region for centuries allowed the people to develop a culture free from outside influences, evident in this selection from the Museum's renowned but rarely seen collection of Buddhist art from Nepal and Tibet. The display includes ten Himalayan meditation paintings called thangkas--vividly colored, extremely complex visualizations of the Buddhist pantheon--that are intended to help the viewer-meditator gain the experience of enlightenment. Some portray the union of compassion and wisdom symbolized by the sexual embrace of a god and goddess, while others are mandalas that represented the Buddhist enlightened universe surrounding a palace-temple of the gods. Also on view are a number of ritual objects depicted in the paintings, such as a lama's apron made from human bone, a rosary, a prayer wheel, a scull cup adorned with gems, and a silver magical dagger.

Main Building


Nancy D. Baxter
Gail Maxwell

Check out other exhibitions

View full calendar