Treasures of Buddhism

RIR, February 17, 2012

A Buddhist art exhibit arrives in Saint-Petersburg for Days of Tibetan Culture

St. Petersburg, Russia -- Russia’s only travelling exhibition of Buddhist art has returned to the city in a new and bigger format, nearly 10 years after it was first unveiled in St. Petersburg.

This time around, “Treasures of Buddhism,” which has been to nearly 40 cities and been seen by 65,000 museum-goers since it was last on show in the city, is a key event of the Days of Tibetan Culture in St. Petersburg festival, which runs through March 27.

The collection on show includes over 200 items, both ancient and modern, created in the workshops and monasteries of India, Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia, as well as closer to home - in the Russian republics of Buryatia and Kalmykia, where Buddhist culture has been developing for centuries. Visitors to the Books and Graphics Center, where the exhibit is being held, have the chance to study paintings on cloth, or thangka (a linear image of Buddha, a painting made by mineral natural paints preserving proportions and canons), sculptures and ritual objects. The show is accompanied by music and guided tours.

The project aims on the one hand to celebrate the cultural and historical heritage of Buddhism - both on Russian territory and further afield - and on the other hand to present the phenomenon of modern Buddhism. For these purposes, the exhibit is accompanied wherever it goes by a program of meditation classes, thematic lectures and documentary and feature film screenings, which, in light of the growing popularity in contemporary Russia of spiritual practices that have roots in Buddhism, such as yoga and meditation, look set to be very popular.

The “Treasures of Buddhism” project also comprises a photography exhibit titled “Stupa, Wish Fulfilling,” depicting images of stupas (Buddhist places of worship) in the Republic of Kalmykia, Tibet, Nepal, India and Europe. The photography exhibit has been organized to support the construction of the Enlightenment Stupa due to be inaugurated this summer in the village of Mork in Russia’s Republic of Mari El.

“Treasures of Buddhism” was first held in St. Petersburg back in 2003 to celebrate the city’s 300th birthday, before setting off on a journey around the country.

This time around, the exhibit comes just in time to help interested parties prepare for the celebration of the Tibetan New Year with Buddhists on Feb. 22.