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The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs Hardcover – October 12, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tibetan Buddhism has one of the most complex iconographies of any religion. Robert Beer, the artist who brought to life the saints of Tibetan Buddhism in Buddhist Masters of Enchantment, has now brought the myriad symbols of Tibetan Buddhist art to life. Not exactly arranged like an encyclopedia, this book is more like a tour of the categories of Tibetan Buddhist symbols, beginning with Landscape Elements (rocks, clouds, rainbows, etc.); moving on to such areas as Flowers and Trees, Cosmology, and Mudras (hand gestures); and ending with Geometric Borders. Exquisitely detailed line drawings (using fine-pointed traditional brushes) are grouped on full-size plates, each of which the author tells us took between 50 and 200 hours to draw. The eight years that went into this book are revealed not only in the drawings but also in the text that is equally detailed in its descriptions of the religious significance of the symbols as well as their sources and development in Tibetan art. Beer's encyclopedic knowledge has not come from book learning, but from 30 years of doing Tibetan art and learning firsthand from Tibetan masters. After glimpsing just of few of these plates, you'll be calling Beer a master too. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

Through 12 thematically organized chapters of text (accompanied by black-and-white line drawings), BeerAa British artist who's studied Tibetan thangka painting for 30 yearsAsets out to "cover the whole spectrum of Tibetan Buddhist symbols and attributes." Given the dearth of English-language works on the topic, libraries serving sophisticated interests in Tibetan Buddhism or Eastern art may want to add this work to their circulating collections. Its value as a reference title, however, is severely limited on several counts. First, Beer lacks credentials both in terms of traditional Western scholarship and Buddhist lineage of transmission. Additionally, the book contains no index or glossary; cross references are scarce; and terms unique to Tibetan Buddhism (like "concealed treasure" traditions) are not defined in the text.AJames R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina Lib., Asheville
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 363 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (October 12, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157062416X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570624162
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.3 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

A source book without index is less than it should be.
Michael G. Ehmer
I -highly- recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Tibetan culture.
J. R. Uder
Easy to read and connect the information with illustrations.
Jennifer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Other reviewers have praised the usefulness of this beautiful book for those interested in Tibetan Religious Art and Vajrayana Buddhism. No doubt the efforts of this author to make this most complex of traditions more accessible and intelligible deserves our gratitude. However I would like to particularly point to the artistic quality of the plates. Today in the time of computer graphics and push-button reproduction of images, it is hard to find anyone under the age of 70 who has taken the care to acquire artistic skill and apply it as Robert Beer has done. The plates in this book are all originally composed, not just copied. They are accomplished by drawing with the finest imaginable brush and ink (no computerized improvements here). In other words, we are talking a labor of love which is also a masterpiece. Each plate yields new detail and delight on each viewing. I write this to tempt those who are not devotees of Eastern religion but are lovers of fine art to invest. It will yield hours of pleasure in the seeeing for the rest of your life.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Theodor Schupbach on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I would like to recommend this book to anyone who is seriously interested in practising Vajrayana Buddhism, as it accurately decribes and illustrates every ritual item. Appropriate guidance is given throughout the book in terms of usage, purpose and source of origin for each motif. A treasure to be kept before it vanishes from this world.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Clare Dygert on January 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Robert Beer's book is a feast, a master work. I will turn to it time and time again. No practicing Tibetan Buddhist should be without this in her library. Thank you so much, Mr. Beer for what you have given us. As I was reading your book, I was looking at my thankgas more closely than I ever have before, understanding them in ways I never could before.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By T. Denyer on May 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for beautiful, black and white line drawings of Tibetan (and Chinese) art then this book is for you. The book has 169 plates (some plates have over 40 pieces/objects) accompanied by a detailed explanation of its origins, meanings, and uses. The plates/objects are crisp and clear, which make is easy to...umm..."study" (all text and illustrations are protected by copyright law, of course.)
Included in this book are:
Landscape elements
Flowers and trees
Animals (with the beautifully intense snow-lion)
Narrative subjects (Four Friends)
Cosmology (with a beautiful full-page astrological diagram)
Mudras (postures of hands and feet)
The Chakravartin and his Seven Precious Possessions
Auspicious symbols (endless knots, golden fishes, et. al.)
Various peaceful offerings (covers 55 different Gzi stones)
The Wheel of Sharp Weapons
Wrathful offering, tormas, and Ritual Fire Hearths
Geometric borders, patterns, designs, and motifs (more plates than any other chapter!)
Robert Beer does a phenomenal job of researching, collecting, and illustrating Tibetan sacred art. The book is printed on the highest quality paper giving you the best images possible.
If you are simply studying or researching Tibetan art, or as I am, designing a Tibetan tattoo, this book is for you. It is easy to use, fully explained, and a great all-around reference. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Uder on February 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is not only an incredible collection of art, it is also wonderfully explanitory. R. Beer tells the mythos and history behind each set of images in a logical and easy to read format. I only wish that it was in full color (rather than just black and white); however, the author gives full details of how each image is traditionally coloured.
I -highly- recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Tibetan culture.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erin E. Carlson on February 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. Having found it a few years back at a tattoo shop in Santa Cruz, California, I was only able to look at it for a short time but I was able to gain so much knowledge as to the wealth of designs and deep meaning found in Tibetan art. This book stayed in my mind thereafter. Here it is a few years and a couple tattoos later and the book resurfaced on Amazon. Great price, great condition and prompt service. This book is great for one who has interest in Tibetan art and it's symbolic nature. The concepts are well articulated and with each 'type' placed into a different chapter it makes refrencing quite simple. If you are interested, get this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Smale on December 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book is very educational. the descriptions are very detailed and tend to be lengthy (which I find to be very informative) but I must say the pictures aren't all that good and it is sometimes difficult to find exactly what you are looking for quickly. Still this is a very good book, great source of information, and I do and will continue to recommend it!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By r.michener on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Indespensible resource for all people interested in Tibetan culture. Hats off to Robert Beer for presenting this detailed excursion into the symbols and motifs of Tibet. Everything in this book is priceless from an information point of view.There is not another book in this area that is as detailed as this one is. I cannot thank Robert Beer enough, this is truly a modern 'terma' (hidden treasure).
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