Cover Picture : Shambhala Mural, Origin of the Kalachakra Teachings, Illustration of the First Dharma King (18th century). Lukhang, 1st floor, central south wall, 195 × 410 cm (76 × 161 inches) © Thomas Laird, 2018/ TASCHEN, Murals of Tibet
There are places, stories and emotions that even today we know only superficially. Places and stories that for political, geographical and historical reasons have remained invisible for decades, centuries or even millennia.
These geographical – and spiritual – places have lived in continual conflict between the secrets to which destiny has bound them, and the need to reveal them to the world.
When we raise the lid of one of these troves, the value of the treasures they contain is of an importance beyond measure.
Price doesn’t even enter the equation when the true value of such things is made of feelings, knowledge and empathy toward the people who live and experience them.The task of bringing these inestimable treasures to our eyes is a rare privilege bestowed only on a few latter day heroes of beauty: writers, photographers, video-makers and, more recently, editors like Benedikt Taschen.
left: Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, with a draft copy of Murals of Tibet, Boston, 2014. Photo Mina Magda © TASCHEN // right: Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama signing the dedication for the SUMO. To the left Tenzin Takla, right Thomas Laird. Dharamsala, India, 2013. © Thomas Laird, 2018/ TASCHEN, Murals of Tibet
Never overburdened by the continual titanic efforts that have allowed them to present the world with some of the most beautiful editorial works of the last twenty years, TASCHEN today offers us the latest of its legendary works: “Sumo”. This one dedicated to the mural paintings of Tibet.
As is always the case, the book has been realised by a specialist in the subject.
“Murals of Tibet” is indeed autographed by Thomas Laird, possibly the world’s most important expert on Tibet, a land he visited for the first time in 1973 at the age of 20.
Laird is one of the highest scholars of Tibet, its places and its life, who came to understand it so deeply through his long-standing friendship with the 14th Dalai Lama.
The first photographs forming part of the “Murals of Tibet” were taken starting from around 2008. Laird’s knowledge of digital photography allowed him to compile the world’s first archive of these artworks, some walls as wide as 10 meters, in life-size resolution.
In sheer physical terms this work edited by TASCHEN is without doubt the largest and most complete treatise on these works of art. It is a document of inestimable value, a true landmark in the World Heritage dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture.
As regard the text, Buddhist writer and academic Robert Thurman takes us through this transcendental journey with detailed text on the murals’ spiritual significance while captions from experts Heather Stoddard and Jakob Winkler shed light on the storylines and artistic context of each image.
A book which, as always with TASCHEN special editions, transforms into a flow of emotions from cover to cover. A monumental work destined to become a veritable historical, philosophical and, in the final analysis, social treatise for decades to come.
left: Interior of Chapel 2 S b at Gyantse Kumbum with Excellent Generosity Green Tara and the statues of Green Khadiravani Tara flanked by two four-‐armed attendants, Marichi, left, and Bhrikuti, right © Thomas Laird, 2018/ TASCHEN, Murals of Tibet // right: Thomas Laird. Murals of Tibet, Thomas Laird, Robert Thurman, Heather Stoddard, Jakob Winkler, Shigeru Ban. Hardcover volume signed by the Dalai Lama, 50 x 70 cm, 498 pages, 6 fold-outs, with a modular bookstand designed by Shigeru Ban, plus an illustrated 528-page scholarly companion book. € 10.000
Hidden amidst soaring snowy mountains, deep valleys, and desolate deserts are some of the greatest treasures of Buddhist culture and Tibetan heritage.
For more than a decade, photographer Thomas Laird travelled the length, breadth, and far-flung corners of Tibet’s plateau to capture the land’s spectacular Buddhist murals in all their sublime vastness, intricacy, and their spiritual, emotional, and psychological enrichment.
This breath-taking publication assembles Laird’s portfolio in extra-large format with six fold-outs, printed in five colours, including gold. Featuring both complete murals and copious details, it immerses readers into these precious, extraordinary masterpieces.
SUMO-sized Collector’s Edition limited to 998 copies, each signed by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, with a bookstand designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect and humanitarian pioneer Shigeru Ban.
Also available as two Art Editions limited to 40 copies each (No. 1–80), both with a print. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has signed all copies of this Collector’s Edition.
As his Holiness the Dalai Lama has himself explained, these murals are not just objects of beauty, but serve as points of reference and guidance for practitioners of Buddhism, yoga, and meditation, as well as for anyone seeking to incorporate mindfulness into their daily life. Binding contemporary photographic technology with ancient traditions, this book is at once a majestic art piece, a major milestone in the appreciation of Buddhism, a precious monument to Tibetan culture, and a vital source for the contemplative arts and sciences.
left: Gyantse town in the foreground, where all streets lead to the Kumbum (left) and Palkor Chode (right), surrounded by its medieval walls. © Thomas Laird, 2018/ TASCHEN, Murals of Tibet // right: Eleven‐Headed Avalokiteshvara (15th century). Gyantse Kumbum, Chapel 2 S a’, 165 x 114 cm (65 x 45 inches) © Thomas Laird, 2018/ TASCHEN, Murals of Tibet
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