Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Bhutan, Heilige Kunst aus dem Himalaya

The kingdom of Bhutan, wedged between the major powers of India and China, is the only country in the world where Tantric Buddhism is the official religion. The government does not merely measure its achievement in terms of economic growth, but has made “Gross National Happiness” for its roughly 700,000 inhabitants and the protection of the environment its most important guiding principle.
This exhibition was realised after five years of preparatory work by a team of American experts under the aegis of the Honolulu Academy of Arts in cooperation with the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan and the leaders of the monastic body. The exhibition will present sacred objects from monasteries and temples which are still in active use in Buddhist rituals. For this reason they are only accessible to the general public on special ceremonial occasions. The 117 objects from the 8th to the 20th century comprise Thangkas (religious scroll paintings) executed in bright mineral colours, gilded sculptures and ritual objects. It will be the most representative and comprehensive exhibition of sacred art from Bhutan ever shown.
In Europe, these sacred objects from the Himalayan kingdom will – after their first stop in Paris – be shown only at the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne and the Museum Rietberg in Zurich. Two monks from Bhutan will accompany the exhibition and offer visitors the rare opportunity to experience the ritual practices of Tantric Buddhism at first hand in Buddhist cleansing ceremonies, which will be conducted twice daily. In addition, the monks will create a sand mandala in the exhibition rooms over a period of several weeks. The ritual Cham dances – another aspect of religious life in Bhutan – will be presented in impressive video displays.
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