Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World is a landmark exhibition which has been travelling the world since 2004. At the Ueno Royal Museum from September 19 until January 11 nearly 200 Tibetan sacred objects are on display.
In 2005 it completed a two year national tour of the United States, where it was seen by thousands of people and generally lauded as a superb collection of Tibetan art and culture. The political significance of the exhibition has not gone unnoticed, and some of the items on display have caused controversy among pro-Tibet protesters.
Situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, Tibet has a culture that is directly influenced by her neighbours. This now includes India and China, but in the past also consisted of Mongol hordes. These outside influences have combined to shape a unique culture which meshes Buddhist ideals with stunning art.
The introduction of Buddhism in the 7th century Tibet came under the sway of Indian Esoteric Buddhism in the 10th and 11th centuries. This exhibition displays Tibetan-style Buddhist artwork which comes from temples and palaces which are now registered as World Heritage Sites.
Statues of Tibetan Kings and Buddhist deities are included in the exhibition. There are paintings, mandalas and sacred items made from silver and gold and ornately covered with jewels. It also features objects from the Dalai Lamas residence at the Potala Palace as well as items from the recently set-up Tibet Museum in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and centre of Tibetan Buddhism.
The exhibition is organised into four main sections and is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 250 page catalogue:
Ritual Objects This section travels deep into the world of Tibetan Buddhism and showcases objects associated with it such as prayer wheels.
Paintings, Sculptures and Textiles Devotional paintings, also known as thangkas are presented beautifully. The smaller ones are often rolled up and carried by lamas who use them to educate their congregations. Many of the paintings on show date back to the 13th century. You will also learn about consecration ceremonies and the intricate process involved in producing the artwork.
Daily Life of Tibetan Nobility This section has gorgeous costumes, jewellery and vessels used during ceremonial events and daily activities. Some of the items, such as the Chest Ornament served both religious and decorative purposes.
History and Culture of Tibet With illustrated timelines and informative panels you will be able to understand the story about the long history of Tibet.
Where: Ueno Royal Museum
1-2 Ueno Kaen, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
September 19-January 11
10am 6pm. ¥1,400.
Ph: (03) 3833 4191.
Getting there: 3-min. walk from Koen Exit, JR Ueno Station.