Identifying Bhutan's Buddhist iconography

By Kinley Y Dorji, Kuensel Online, April 21, 2006

Timphu, Bhutan -- A team from the Honolulu Academy of Arts and Bhutanese iconography experts are jointly studying and identifying ancient artefacts like thangka (scroll paintings), bronze and ritual objects which would be exhibited in Honolulu, USA in 2008.

According to the Bhutan exhibition coordinator, Phuntsho, during the three-day workshop at the Capital, religious figures depicted in the artefacts would be identified and then compiled into a catalogue.

“The catalogue would have detailed explanatory notes on all the artefacts and is being prepared for the exhibition,” he said.

According to the coordinator, a book on Bhutanese iconography would also be published both in English and Dzongkha so that Bhutanese people would also be familiar with their country's iconography.

The exhibition content advisor, Dr. Reda Sobky, MD/PHD, said that the identification and explanation of the artefacts was important to bring out the Bhutanese expression at the highest level possible at the 2008 exhibition.

“The Honolulu exhibition will not be an archaeological show but of a living culture,” he said.

The advisor said that Bhutanese mask dances would also be presented during the exhibition. The dances would be performed by monks from the Zhung Dratsang.

Speaking on the workshop during the inaugural ceremony today, Dorji Lopon Kinley said that such an exercise would help Bhutan to promote and preserve its unique cultural heritage.

Apart from Honolulu, the exhibition that is titled as 'The Dragon's Gift' will also be exhibited in San Francisco and another US city which is yet to be decided.

The exhibition will also travel to Switzerland while negotiations for putting up the show in South Korea and Japan is going on. The last exhibition would be made in Thimphu.

“It is important for the Bhutanese youth to reflect back on the richness of their culture. The world treasures what Bhutan has,” said the advisor.