Teaching with Thangkas at the Mead Art Museum: Materials, Methods, and Meanings

Tuesday and Wednesday, August 30–31, 2011.
Guest Scholar: Katherine Anne Paul, Expert in the arts of the Himalayas.

Overview and Schedule

Participants learned in depth and hands-on about the function, creation, and meaning of Tibetan thangka and explored their key stylistic characteristics, their iconography, their spiritual significance, their value for reconstructing socio-political relations, and the process and results of their recent conservation treatments. The seminar investigated ways faculty can develop innovative teaching strategies using these works of art in a wide variety of disciplines.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Session 1: Visual Literacy for Thangkas: Materials and Methods, Framing, Formats, Icons and Narrative Sequencing

Session 2: Background Settings: Ideal and Real Landscapes, Auspicious Imagery

Session 3: Body Language: Postures and Gestures, Asana and Mudra

Session 4: Acessories and Implements: Costumes, Ritual Implements, Weapons

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Session 1: Content and Meaning, Concrete and Abstract

Session 2: Function and Uses of Thangka in Tibetan Contexts

Session 3: Parallels and Extrapolations with Other Traditions; East and West; Buddhist and Other Religions

Session 4: Integrating the Mead's Thangka Collection into Course Curricula

Guest Scholar: Katherine Anne Paul

Dr. Katherine Anne Paul, an expert in the arts of the Himalayas, completed her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a dissertation entitled “Words on the Wind: A Study of Tibetan-Buddhist Prayer Flags.” Before becoming curator of the Arts of Asia at The Newark Museum in 2008, she served for six years as a curator of Indian and Himalayan art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has organized over twenty exhibitions, most recently the major series of installations that celebrates The Newark Museum’s Tibet Collection Centennial. Dr. Paul has lectured widely and is the author of numerous articles, including “Bhutan’s Tiger’s Nest: Pilgrimage and Popular Media,” in Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art (2010) and a study of materials used in Tibetan Buddhist copper statuary at the American Museum of Natural History (Metal 2010, ICOM Committee for Conservation). 

Bibliography: Beginners Reading List

Apte, Robert Z. (1990) Three Kingdoms on the Roof of the World: Bhutan, Nepal, Ladakh. Berkeley: Parallax Press.

Beer, Robert. (1998) The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs. London, Serindia Pub.

Berger, Patricia & Terese Tse Bartholomew. (1995) Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Fisher, Robert E. (1997) Art of Tibet. London: Thames and Hudson.

Heller, Amy. (1999) Tibetan Art: Tracing the Development of Spiritual Ideals and Art in Tibet 600-2000 A.D. Milano, Italy: Jaca Book.

Jackson, David P. and Janice A. Jackson. (1984) Tibetan Thangka Painting: Methods & Materials.  Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Kossak, Steven M. and Jane Casey Singer, eds. (1998) Sacred Visions: Early Paintings from Central Tibet. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kramrisch, Stella. (1964) The Art of Nepal. New York: The Asia Society and Harry N. Abrams.

Kvǽrne, Per. (1996) The Bon Religion of Tibet. Boston: Shambala.

Leidy, Denise Patry and Robert A.F. Thurman. (1997) Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment. Boston: Shambala with Tibet House, New York and Asia Society Galleries, New York.

Lizhong, Liu. (1988) Buddhist Art of the Tibetan Plateau. Ed. & Trans. Ralph Kiggell. Hong Kong: Joint Pub. (H.K.) Co., Ltd.

Littleton, C. Scott, ed. (2003) The Sacred East: Understanding Eastern Religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto. 1996. London: Thorsons.

Pal, Pratapaditya. (1984) The Art of Tibet. New York: The Asia Society.

----------. (1984) Tibetan Paintings: A Study of Tibetan Thankas Eleventh to Nineteenth Centuries. Basel, Switzerland: Basilius Presse, Ravi Kumar and Sotheby Publications.

----------. (1991) Art of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet. New York: Hudson Hills Press & The American Federation of Arts.

----------. (2001) Desire and Devotion: Arts from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. Baltimore: The Walters Art Gallery.

Rawson, Phillip. (1995) The Art of Tantra. London: Thames and Hudson.

Reynolds, Valrae. (1999) From the Sacred Realm: Treasures of Tibetan Art. Munich/London/New York: Prestal.

Rhie, Marylin M. and Robert A.F. Thurman. (1991) Wisdom and Compassion : The Sacred Art of Tibet. New York: Abrams.

Singer, Jane Casey and Philip Denwood, eds. (1997) Tibetan Art: Towards a Definition of Style. London: Laurence King & Alan Marcuson with Weatherhill.

Till, Barry and Barbara Swart. (1989) Art from the Roof of the World: Tibet. Victoria, B.C: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Zwalf, W. (1981) Heritage of Tibet. London: British Museum Publications. 

Bibliography: Advanced Reading List

Aris, Michael. (1994) The Raven Crown. London: Serinda Publications.

Baker, Ian. (1997) The Tibetan Art of Healing. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Blondeau, Anne-Marie. (1980) “Analysis of the Biographies of Padmasambhava According to Tibetan Tradition: Classification of Sources,” in Tibetan Studies in Honor of Hugh Richardson: Proceedings of the International Seminar on Tibetan Studies International Seminar on Tibetan Studies (1979: St. John's College). Eds. Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi. Warminster, England: Aris and Phillips, pp. 45-53.

Blondeau, Anne-Marie and Ernst Steinkellner, eds. (1996) Reflections of the Mountain: Essays on the History and Social Meaning of the Mountain Cult in Tibet and the Himalaya. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Brauen, Martin. (1997) The Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism. Trans. Martin Willson. Boston: Shambhala.

---------- Ed. (2005) The Dalai Lamas: A Visual History. Zurich/Chicago: Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich/Serindia Pubs.

Dunsmore, Susi. (1993) Nepalese Textiles. London: British Museum Press.

Ekvall, Robert B. (1964) Religious Observances in Tibet: Patterns and Function. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press.

Getty, Alice. (1978) The Gods of Northern Buddhism: Their History, Iconography and Progressive Evolution through the Northern Buddhist Countries. 1914. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Pub. Pvt. Ltd.

Huber, Toni. (1999a) The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain: Popular Pilgrimage and Visionary Landscape in Southeast Tibet. New York: Oxford University Press.

Klimberg-Salter, Deborah E. (1998) Tabo: A Lamp for the Kingdom: Early Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Art in the Western Himalaya. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson.

---------. (1982) The Silk Route and the Diamond Path: Esoteric Buddhist Art on the Trans-Himalayan Trade Routes. Los Angeles: UCLA Art Council.

La Rocca, Donald. (2006) Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Yale University Press, New Haven/Londong.

Linrothe, Rob.  (2006) Holy Madness: Portraits of Tantric Siddhas. New York/Chicago: Rubin Museum of Art and Serindia Publications.

---------. (2004) Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Beyond. New York/Chicago: Rubin Museum of Art and Serindia Publications. With Jeff Watt.

---------. (2004) Paradise and Plumage: Chinese Connections in Tibetan Arhat Paintings. New York/Chicago: Rubin Museum of Art and Serindia Publications.

--------- and Henrik Sorensen, eds. (2001) Embodying Wisdom: Art, Text and Interpretation in the History of Esoteric Buddhism. Copenhagen: Seminar for Buddhist Studies.

---------. (1999) Ruthless Compassion: Wrathful Deities in Indo Tibetan Esoteric Buddhist Art. London/Boston: Serindia/Shambhala.

Mumford, Stan Royal. (1989) Himalayan Dialogue: Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal.  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Slusser, Mary. (1982) Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Tibetan Medical Paintings: Illustrations to the Blue Beryl Treatise of Sangye Gyamtso (1653-1705). (1992) Eds. Yuri Parfionovitch, Gyurme Dorje, Fernand Meyer, Anthony Aris, Vilena Dylykova-Parfionovitch, Donatus Butkus, Robert Meyer, Sergey Klokov, & Helena Bespalova. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.