Emory Report

June 8, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 33

Tibetan art, culture and music featured at Carlos Museum

It may have been a month since His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama graced Emory's campus with his presence at commencement, but plenty of art and Tibetan culture remains at the Carlos Museum.

Since May 17 a group of monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery have been pain-stakingly crafting a sand painting in the third-floor galleries. Comprising millions of grains of colored sand, the "mandala," as it is known in Sanskrit, is said to effect a purification and healing on three spiritual levels for the monks who create it.

The lamas opened the ceremony by consecrating the site through chanting, music and mantra recitation. They then drew the mandala's outline on a wooden platform and began laying down the sand. Traditionally mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion, symbolizing the impermanence of life. During the July 12 closing ceremony, half the sands will be distributed to the audience while the other half will be dispersed in a nearby body of water to be carried to the ocean and then to the rest of the world for planetary healing.

More individually oriented is "The Buddha's Art of Healing," an exhibit featuring Tibetan medical paintings from Buryatia. Personally toured by the Dalai Lama after opening May 8, the exhibit offers Western audiences their first opportunity to see the illustrated text of The Blue Beryl, a 17th century Tibetan medical treatise. On display at the Carlos are a series of copies made earlier this century and then sent to Buryatia, near Lake Baikal in Siberia, for training of physicians in Tibetan medical traditions.

"This is really like a 17th century CD-ROM of Tibetan medicine," said museum Director Anthony Hirschel. "We are delighted that the Carlos Museum will serve as the first venue for this historic exhibition tour."

Exhibit curator Fernand Meyer, of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, told visitors at the opening that the Fifth Dalai Lama charged his last regent, Sangye Gyamtso, with "systematizing Tibetan knowledge and culture." The Blue Beryl is a four-volume work offering a commentary on Tibetan medicine, but Gyamtso felt a visual document would be more useful in illustrating anatomy.

"Each small drawing is a link to the original text, like a comic book," Meyer said. He went on to explain the philosophy of Tibetan medicine is similar to the "four humours" of medieval practices and that disease is actually a state of "imbalanced" health.

Accompanying the paintings is a companion exhibit, "Masterworks of Tibetan Art from the Newark Museum and Private Collections," which includes a sampling of important Tibetan art from the 11th to early 19th centuries.

Finally, Buddhist lamas from the Loseling Monastery will perform June 21 at 8 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium as part of their Sacred Music Sacred Dance international tour. Featured in the performance is multiphonic singing, where the monks simultaneously intone three notes of a chord. They will also play 10-foot-long dunchen trumpets, drums, bells, cymbals and gyaling horns. Rich brocade costumes and masked dances add to the spectacle.

Tickets to the concert are $15 for museum members, $18 for non-members. Emory students are free. To order tickets call 404-727-0509. For more information on the museum exhibits, 404-727-4282.

-Joy Bell and Michael Terrazas

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