Sunday, 23 January 2011

Tibetan Arms and Armour

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, located in New York City's Central Park, is holding an exhibition of Tibetan Arms and Armour.

Armor and weapons are certainly not among the images usually called to mind when considering the art or culture of Tibet, which is closely identified with the pacifism and deep spirituality of the Dalai Lama and with the compassionate nature of Tibetan Buddhism. However, this seeming paradox resolves itself when seen in the context of Tibetan history, which includes regular and extended periods of intense military activity from the seventh to the mid-twentieth century. Many excellent examples of Tibetan arms and armour can be found in museum collections today largely due to the fact that various types of armour and weapons continued to be used in Tibet into the early twentieth century, long after they had gone out of use in the West. Other types were preserved for ceremonial occasions, the most important of which was the Great Prayer Festival, a month-long event held annually in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Historical armour and weapons were also preserved due to the long-standing tradition of placing votive arms in monasteries and temples, where they are kept in special chapels, known as gonkhang (mgon khang), and dedicated to the service of guardian deities.

No comments:

Post a Comment