Himalayan Art Essay

1669 words - 7 pages

Art was largely used to express traditions in the Himalayan region. Once upon Many Times is an exhibition at Rubin Museum of Art representing a wide range of visual narratives and reproductions of temple murals, which can be regarded as exceptional examples of Himalayan art based upon Tibetan myths and legends. Furthermore, this paper will analyze the color arrangement, composition, proportion, hierarchy and motifs of the historical narrative Shantarakshita and scenes of his life and the Drowa Sangmo mural represented at the exhibition Once upon Many Times.

The Drowa Sangmo Mural and the portrait of Shantarakshita are both essential examples of Himalayan Buddhist art, telling stories not just of the literal history of Buddhism but also of the underlying cultural forces and religious meanings at play. Taking a closer look at the painting Shantarakshita and Scenes of His Life in Tibet and the Drowa Sangmo mural, it can be stated that the color scheme, proportion and scale of these objects are similar, but significant differences can be found in the form, hierarchy and composition of these objects which can be explained with disparity in the main themes of these objects and materials.
The Drowa Sangmo Mural is painted directly on the wall of a temple in Tibet; its religious context is literally inseparable from the painting. The Drowa Sangmo Mural also depicts in two-dimensional format the dynamism of Tibetan opera: another art form that summarizes the complexity of Tibetan culture and the link between art, culture, and religion. On the other hand, Shantarakshita is a portrait of a monk who was instrumental in bringing Buddhism to Tibet. Both the Drowa Sangmo Mural and the portrait of the monk Shantarakshita show how historical events, religion, and art are inseparable in the Himalayas.

Shantarakshita is a thangka, one of the central media used in Tibetan art. The painting is executed directly onto cloth, which is likely to be regional silk. Shantarakshita’s seated form occupies the bulk of the cloth canvas. The monk smiles at the world with an expression of never-ending joy and bliss. Moreover, the historical narrative Shantarakshita and scenes of his life displays multiple episodes from life of this Indian guru with the large figure of Shantarakshita in the center of the painting which is typical of Himalayan historical narratives. The episodes of guru’s life are separated by the elements of architectural landscape. Shantarakshita is a popular figure who is known for founding the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet and was frequently painted by Tibetan artists.

Shantarakshita as the central image of the deliberate painting wears a scholar’s cap and holds a religious scroll in his right hand, which is placed in the dharmachakra mudra, which also symbolizes the spread of wisdom from teacher to student. Thus, Emphasizes the fact that Shantarakshita is a well-known teacher. (“Historical Narrative: Shantarakshita”). Moreover, a stack of...

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