Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tibet House: 15th St between 5th and 6th Aves

Tibetan Prayer Wheels, Called Manis, Into Which Papers With Mantras Are Placed And Spun
Unfortunately after weathering a torrential downpour I arrived at the Tibet House in Chelsea only to find that the gallery was closed.  I had checked their website at Tibet House Info and found that their limited hours of noon to 5 pm M-F and was free, but there was no mention that it would be closed today to prepare for a new exhibit.

While disappointing, I was able to check out their offices, their library and gift shop and snapped a few photos.  They had the expected intricate brass tantric sculptures, detailed colorful tapestries, primitive jewelry (see belt above left), religious artifacts (see stupa of crystal and gold at right), works made by monks like the thread mandala made at a monastery (see below left), and fun animal/god (?) masks and Tibetan dolls in traditional dress hanging along almost every beam or soffit.

Actually, I was really impressed with all of the things that were available for viewing even with the gallery closed.  The style of Tibetan art is not really my style (which leans more toward the clean and contemporary), but what they had was beautiful in its own right.  Much of their collection is what they term repatriation art (donated Tibetan art collected and held in trust for eventual return to a National Museum in a free autonomous Tibet), and is part of the Tibet House's mission of preserving the Tibetan culture while it is endangered by the Chinese occupation in its own soil.  Tibet House was founded at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who at the 1987 inauguration wished for a long-term cultural institution to ensure the survival of Tibetan civilization and culture.

One of the most prevalent things I noticed were the numerous pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in just about every room.  As I mentioned in my blog about the Museum of Biblical Art, I am not religious.  However, I will say that something about his aspect made him look peaceful and kind.  I especially liked the bronze bust of him in the entry lobby (see right).

I plan to swing by the Tibet House again, perhaps the next time I am in Chelsea, and I hope to see the rest of their collection.  It is definitely worthy of a look (visiting is free, although of course they accept donations and this seems like a great cause to support).

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