Overview for Tibet: History, Art & Culture
Tibet has a vibrant, purely indigenous cultural heritage. Which is best expressed in its various art forms – all invariably inspired by religion, chiefly Buddhism. Tibetan art and religion, says the author, are the two cultural phenomena which, through the ages, have grown round each other. In medieval times: between 13th and 19th centuries, the corridor over the Himalayan ranges opened up new, hitherto-untraversed vistas of religious and cultural life. Tibetan art, thus, grew not just as an isolated phenomenon confined to this landlocked country alone, but a part of the common Buddhist art movement in the medieval trans-Himalayan Asia. Today, the Tibetan artifacts; images, with their complex iconographical features; and other works of art, constitute among the prized collections of museums across the world.
The Indian Museum in Kolkata and Chhatrapatti Shivaji Maharaja Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai are the well-known repositories of Tibetan art and culture. The works of art, housed in these sanctums, not only reflect the Tibetans’ rich cultural past, but radiate their true identity and philosophy as well. A close study of these masterly works, displayed in the Art Galleries and in reserve of the two museums, brings to light their aesthetic and religious symbolism – leading to understanding the cultural history of Tibet.
Making an indepth study of the vast collections of Tibetan images, ritual objects, ornaments, and other works of art, housed in these museums (in Kolkata and Mumbai), the author tries to understand Tibet’s indigenous culture and society through the ages. Also identifying the various ritual objects and religious images, she draws together ideas that went into their creation. Nita Segupta also takes a look into the general history of Tibet – political, religious, and socioeconomic. The book includes a generous supplement of illustrations.
Dr Nita Sengupta has, since 1992, been associated with the Art Section of the prestigious Indian Museum, Kolkata.