Tabo: A Lamp for the Kingdom

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9788881182091: Tabo: A Lamp for the Kingdom
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The monastery of Tabo lies in northern India in the secluded Spiti valley, which was at one time part of the ancient kingdom of Western Tibet. The oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in India and the Himalayas, Tabo's historical role as an intermediary between India and Tibet and the extraordinary beauty of its frescoes make it a place of unique importance. The main temple of Tabo is one of the masterpieces of Indian and Tibetan art. Built in 996 and renovated in 1042, the temple is remarkable not only for the exceptional quality of its sculpture and the decorative paintings that cover every surface, but also for the numerous portraits of royal patrons, members of the local nobility, and ecclesiastical figures, all identified by name. Tabo played a pivotal role in the history of Buddhism in the tenth and eleventh centuries, when Tibetan monks and Indian pandits studied together and translated scripture from Sanskrit into Tibetan. This meeting of trans-Himalayan cultures, and the devotions of their faithful, are vividly preserved in the magnificent paintings and sculptures that adorn the original temple and the monastery that surrounds it. Deborah Klimburg-Salter, who has published widely on this period, describes the art, iconography, and contemporary rituals of Tabo with the aid of more than 200 photographs, plans, and diagrams. The color photographs, which are largely the work of Jaroslav Poncar, illustrate the hidden glories of one of the most important sites in Buddhist history. Tabo also includes contributions by Luciano Petech, Professor Emeritus, University of Rome; and Christian Luczanits, Ernst Steinkellner, and Erna Wandl of the Institute of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna.

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It is not at all unusual for Western art historians to write detailed treatments of single European or American religious structures. We are all familiar with many fine books on Chartres Cathedral or the great religious foundation at Assissi. Yet few of these exacting, room-by-room, image-by-image studies have been published on Asian religious buildings. Klimburg-Salter (Univ. of Vienna) has taken upon herself the task of recording and explaining the beautiful and extraordinarily well-preserved sculptures and wall paintings of the Buddhist monastery of Tabo, in the Indian Himalayas in the isolated valley of Spiti, near the Tibetan border. Built in 996 and renovated in 1042, the monastery was a focal point for the diffusion of Buddhism from its birthplace in India up through the high passes to Tibet. Studded with Sanskrit terms, the text is dry but readable and will be more appreciated by readers with some knowledge of Buddhism (just as European art history presupposes a knowledge of Christianity). The glorious color photographs provide a feeling for the vitality and quality of the art in this ancient monastery. A narrative chapter of Himalayan history covers the last 1300 years, and evocative black-and-white photographs chart the European expeditions of the early 20th century that first described Tabo. This book is a privileged look at an esoteric and inaccessible outpost of a religious practice steadily disappearing. Recommended for art and academic libraries.ADavid McClelland, Philadelphia
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780500018378: Tabo: A Lamp for the Kingdom : Early Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Art in the Western Himalaya

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ISBN 10:  0500018375 ISBN 13:  9780500018378
Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 1998
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