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
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