This album accompanies The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan art tour, one of the most highly anticipated exhibitions of Buddhist art to be held in recent times.
For over five years, the Honolulu Academy of Arts has conducted ambitious fieldwork and research in Bhutan. Enjoying a close working relationship with the Royal Government of Bhutan, the Honolulu Academy of Arts research teams have been given unprecedented access to the nation’s treasuries of sacred art and dance.
The Dragon’s Gift offers a rare opportunity to introduce some of the most sacred Buddhist images of Bhutan to the wider international audience. From the wealth of material surveyed, the organizers of the exhibition have selected over one hundred objects of superior aesthetic achievement and deep religious significance, the vast majority of which have never before been seen in the West. Nearly all of the works of art presented in this book are from active temples and monasteries and remain in ritual use. Most of the items are either painted or textile thangkas, or gilt bronze sculptures, which date primarily from the 17th to 19th centuries–a golden age in the Buddhist arts of Bhutan.
Ranging from depictions of Tantric deities to individual portraits of Buddhist masters, the exhibition and catalogue represent outstanding works of art with a wide iconographic scope. Local Bhutanese experts and accomplished monks were consulted throughout the research process, representing the important indigenous perspective on these sacred works. For the Buddhist people of Bhutan, these sacred items are conceived as supports along the journey to enlightenment, and are of vital spiritual significance.
Complementing the sacred works of art is the documentation of the ancient Cham dances of Bhutan, which the dance preservation team had the privilege of observing. Having documented over three hundred hours of sacred and secular dances, they have compiled a first collection of the few surviving treasures of the trans-Himalayan movement tradition. These different approaches to the visual and moving arts provide further insight into the unique experience of Buddhism in Bhutan. A brief sampling of the variety of dance lineages, some many centuries old, is included on the DVD included with this book.
Beautifully illustrated, this catalog also includes curatorial notes and photos, close-up details, photos of gatherings and monasteries, as well as 12 essays contributed by leading Bhutanese and Western scholars.
Beautifully illustrated, with high quality full color reproductions on gloss paper. Very helpful is the mapping of surrounding deities in many of the thangkas.
The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan
by Honolulu Academy of Arts
Edited by Terese Tse Bartholomew and John Johnston
Cloth, 9.5″ x 12″, 390 pp. Includes DVD.