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Open AccessArticle

Deity and Display: Meanings, Transformations, and Exhibitions of Tibetan Buddhist Objects

1
Arts Department, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
2
Department of History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2020, 11(3), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030106
Received: 2 February 2020 / Revised: 11 February 2020 / Accepted: 13 February 2020 / Published: 27 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Museums)
This paper analyses the values and uses of Tibetan sacred artefacts in their original contexts as well as the transformation of meanings once placed in museums. It discusses the perception of statues, paintings, ritual instruments and books from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, examining the iconographic and iconometric functions of the images, and asserting that a primary purpose is as a ‘support for practice’ (tib. sku rten, ‘body-support’). Sacred images represent the embodiment of the Buddhas, deities and masters and, once consecrated by lamas, are considered to have the power to confer blessings. Despite the instrumental function of such artefacts, however, it is also possible to identify and delineate a complex Himalayan concept of aesthetics. The text moves on to analyse the effects of the transition of Tibetan Buddhist images into different museological contexts, comparing the display of Tibetan material in the consecrated spaces of Himalayan monastery museums with their exhibition in secular museological sites in the West. View Full-Text
Keywords: Tibetan Buddhism; Buddhist art; religious images; museum; display Tibetan Buddhism; Buddhist art; religious images; museum; display
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Tythacott, L.; Bellini, C. Deity and Display: Meanings, Transformations, and Exhibitions of Tibetan Buddhist Objects. Religions 2020, 11, 106.

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