Thangka (scroll painting) of Amitayus

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Art of Enlightenment: A Perspective on the Sacred Art of Tibet (by the Yeshe De Project, Dharma Publishing)

This book, based on notes given by Tarthang Tulku, offers a concise look at images of enlightenment (mudras and mandalas), a section of sacred art in Tibet (specifically about Tibetan thangkas and the creation of sacred art), and a chapter on preserving Tibetan sacred art through publication and in Nyingma centers. At the end of the book is a page of line drawings of nine typical mudras.

A book adopted for college and university courses.


Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs (Robert Beer)

This study of the sacred art of Tibet is the result of eight years of meticulous brush drawing, and a lifetime spent researching and reflecting upon the inner and often hidden meanings and origins encapsulated in this most complex of iconographical traditions. Several thousand individual drawings arranged as a series of 169 plates illustrate the many variations in style and individual expression of these ritual objects. The text interweaves the origins, meanings and functions of these symbols, derived from India, Tibet and China, into a comprehensive tapestry within a Buddhist conceptual framework. This book will become a classic not only for all those interested in Tibetan religious culture, but for artists, designers and others who look eastwards in a search for meaning.

Robert Beer, a British artist, has studied and practiced Tibetan thangka painting for the last 30 years. One of the first Westerners to become actively involved in this art form, he initially studied for a period of years in India and Nepal with several of the finest Tibetan artists living at the time. Over the last 18 years he has concentrated on producing an extensive series of iconographical brush drawings depicting the symbols, lineage holders and major deities which occur in the vast spectrum of Tibetan art. This book on symbols and motifs is the first part of this series to be published.


Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols (Robert Beer)

This book is a portal into the rich, multifaceted , and profound symbolism of Tibetan sacred art. Robert Beer provides a deep and encompassing insight into the vast array of symbols and attributes that appear within the complex iconography of Tibetan Buddhism. The succinct descriptions that accompany his detailed line drawings reveal the origins, meanings, and functions of these symbols. Beer unravels the multiple layers of symbolism and meaning contained within the iconography, affording the reader a panoramic vision into the deeper dimensions of this sacred art.

Drawn largely from Beer's monumental work The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs (see above), the meticulous brush drawings in this book depict all of the major Buddhist symbols and motifs, including the various groups of auspicious symbols; cosmological symbols; natural and mythical animals, such as the dragon, garuda, and makara; the entire assembly of ritual tantric implements and weapons; magical and wrathful symbols; hand-held emblems, attributes, and plants, esoteric Vajrayana offerings; and mudras, or ritual hand gestures. There are masterful descriptions of the symbols and motifs, with Romanized Sanskrit and Tibetan (Wylie) translations. Four appendices: "The Legend of the Churning of the Ocean," "The five Buddha Families," "The Three Kayas," and "The Channel Wheel System." Detailed glossary.

This book would be useful to artists, those studying comparative mythology, art, art history, philosophy, or Buddhism, those studying the Tibetan language, and, of course, those practicing Tibetan Buddhism.

Robert Beer has studied and practiced Tibetan thangka painting for more than thirty years, and was one of the first Westerners to become actively involved in this art form. Over the last two decades he has concentrated on an extensive series of iconographical drawings depicting the major deities, lineage holders, and symbols that occur in the spectrum of Tibetan art.


Images of Enlightenment: Tibetan Art in Practice (by Jonathan Landaw and Andy Weber)

"Images of Enlightenment is an engaging presentation of thirty-two bodhisattvas, buddhas and lineage masters that commonly occur in the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism. The vital inspirational quality of the images is conveyed with information on how each deity exemplifies the Vajrayana path as a whole. Explanations of their symbolic meanings are interspersed with the legends and myths that Vajrayana masters tell about these meditational images." Snow Lion

"Among the few guides we have to the immense richness of Tibetan religious art, Images of Enlightenment stands out. Indeed, this is much more than an art book; it is a potent introduction to Tibetan Buddhism."--Dan Cozort, Dickenson College


Sacred Calligraphy of the East, 3rd. edition revised and expanded (John Stevens)

Throughout the East, writing is held to be a gift from the gods, and the divinely inspired letters and characters are objects of the highest veneration. The religious significance of calligraphy has thus led to a unique development of the art of brush and ink in Japan, China, India, and Tibet. This beautifully illustrated book covers such topics as the history and spirit of Eastern calligraphy, the art of copying religious texts, the biographies of important Zen calligraphers, and practical instructions on materials and techniques for the contemporary student. No knowledge of the languages discussed is required for the reader to appreciate the study of this ancient practice.

"A stimulating and attractive work bound to encourage the non-specialist interested in widening an appreciation and possibly an actual practice of sacred calligraphy."--Choice  



Tibet in Pictures: A Journey into the Past (Li Gotami Govinda)

This wonderful book is a photographic record of expeditions to Central and Western Tibet undertaken by Li Gotami Govinda and her husband, Lama Anagarika Govinda, from 1947 to 1949. The black and white photographs from this journey constitute a unique and significant contribution to the world's understanding of traditional Tibetan culture. In addition to presenting the land and people of Tibet, they also preserve images of over fifty treasures of sacred art, most of which have never been previously photographed and are now largely lost to the world. Captions by Li Gotami and Lama Govinda provide a context for the photos, while a foreward by Tarthang Tulku and Lama Govinda's introduction further illuminate the symbolism of Buddhist sacred art.

Part 1 of Tibet in Pictures records the expedition to Central Tibet, depicting the geography, people, architecture and the statues in temples along the route. Part 2 documents a pilgrimage to Tsaparang in Western Tibet. Here is the author's photographic masterpiece: sacred statures of a thousand-year-old culture that combine the almost abstract qualities of great sculpture with an intense spiritual vision.


Worlds of Tranformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion (Thurman)

If you liked the Wisdom and Compassion art book, you will love this massive edition of Tibetan Buddhist paintings. Hundreds of sublime Tibetan thangka (scroll) paintings from the premier New York collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin span the 12th through 20th centuries and the spectrum of Tibetan artistic schools. There is an analysis of each painting's iconography and religious meaning, style, regional lineage, and sources. David Jackson discusses the paintings of the Kagyupa order in the Rubin Collection.


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