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Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet (Expanded Edition) Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 1, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly

The startling image of a BuddhaRobin, capped per Web.eed in father-mother union form--a multi-armed "Supreme Bliss Wheel Integration"--may look both fearsome and erotic to Western eyes. Yet, as this breathtakingly beautiful volume shows, it is a manifestation of Buddha's highest spiritual essence, symbolizing the union of wisdom and compassion. This catalogue of a traveling exhibition features 160 Tibetan sacred paintings, sculptures, tapestries and other works. Nearly half of them are reproduced here for the first time, including colored sand mandalas, celestial landscapes and tangka pictures (icons painted on cotton). In penetrating essays, Rhie, an Asian art specialist at Smith College, and Thurman, a religion professor at Columbia, explore Tibet's sacred artworks as doorways to a realm of enlightenment, or nirvana. This impressive book fills a major gap in documenting Tibetan art.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Abradale Books
  • Hardcover: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Expanded edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810982048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810982048
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.4 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,734,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Walter O. Koenig on November 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I wish I had seen the exhibition of which this beautiful book is the catalogue. It must have been breathtaking. This is more than a catalogue, it is a reference book, beginning with an overview and four informative introductory essays. The Catalogue itself is divided into twelve specific areas/types of Tibetan Sacred Art. These cover not only the different representations of the Shakyamuni Buddha, Arhats, Boddhisattvas and others, but also the four Tibetan Buddhist Orders. The Illustations are very clear and many detailed illusrtrations and graphs help to explain the Thangaks and Mandalas. The text is very informative, and the book is also printed and bound well.... A truly wonderful gift.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one book you can judge by it's cover. It is fabulous. The photos of Tibetan paintings and statuary are simply beautiful. In some cases, such as a Tibetan thangka painting of Shakyamuni buddha's life, the whole painting is shown first, then close-up shots of other parts of the painting are shown for a more detailed view. Scenes from the painting are then explained. Anyone who has tried to decipher the meaning in a thangka, knows that without the help of experts, it is nearly impossible to capture the true story. Marylin Rhie and Robert Thurman help unlock the mysteries in a book with stunning photography, history and artful explanations. If you are interested in Tibetan iconography, a collector, buddhist or an art student--BUY IT, you'll love it!
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Format: Hardcover
I don't know if a single published book could claim to be THE definitive standard work on the sacred art on a religion or cosmology, but The Sacred Art of Tibet (Expanded Edition) by Marylin Rhie and Robert Thurman certainly approaches that standard. It's phenomenal - great art well-reproduced, well-written, scholarly and yet approachable text. I do want to single out Thurman's introductory essay "Wisdom and Compassion: The Heart of Tibetan Culture" as an excellent introduction into Buddhist history and the Tibetan worldview. The structure/information architecture of the book is very clear/easy to understand, and there are plenty of biographies, indexes and supplements for those interested in further research.

My only cautions would be

- Tibetan cosmology IS incredibly complex. There's no two ways around it. This isn't a "Tantra for Dummies" book. However, the book does a great job of explaining Tibetan Buddhist iconography so that all the waving arms, elephant pelt skirts and skull crowns start to make sense.

- Such a collection of strong work can be aesthetically and emotionally draining, prompting "art fatigue." I've never had a book exhaust me, but the sheer beauty and volume of detail in The Sacred Art of Tibet wiped me out. But I can't help wanting to come back for more. Recommended.
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