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Himalayan Pilgrimage: Journey to the Land of Snows

June 16, 2010 - June 8, 2012

Unidentified artist, Tibet: Shakyamuni Buddha, 14th century; gilt bronze; 56 in. high; on long-term loan from a private collection.

Reaching across several centuries and over the highest mountains in the world, Buddhism spread from India through the narrow corridors of Central Asia into Tibet, where it has remained the primary ethical and moral compass of the Tibetan people. Explore this journey in Himalayan Pilgrimage: Journey to the Land of Snows through exceptionally beautiful objects of sculpture and painting dating from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries and drawn from a private collection on long-term loan to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The central image, a five-foot-tall seated Buddha, provides the axis and symbolic core of the exhibition. This sculpture of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni is seen in a gesture of “touching the earth,” or bhumisparsa mudra, in which he calls on the earth to witness his enlightenment. From this, the central figure and the basic principle of Buddhist thought, the exhibition goes on to explore the cosmic realms of Vajrayana, the Diamond Vehicle of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.

Exhibition continues as Himalayan Pilgrimage: Liberation through Sight, a reinstallation that focuses on artworks created as vehicles to enlightenment.

Himalayan Pilgrimage is organized by Senior Curator for Asian Art Julia White.