The Mystical Arts of Tibet Featuring Personal Sacred Objects of the Dalai Lama

July 20 – December 29, 1996  and April 15 – June 7, 1998


On May 12, 1998, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Oglethorpe University Museum and viewed the exhibition.

Art is an effort to formalize individual moments of wholeness, harmony, and radiance. The transcending effects of these moments, the energy which discloses the mystery of the universe in responding to our spiritual curiosity, uplift and satisfy the soul’s need to question and to speak. The tenderness and the powerful presence of art create an inner sunlit circle in which one is quiet and elated. It is a moment of magic. This exhibit of the mystical art of Tibet is such a crystallized moment. In art and in spiritual life neutrality does not exist.

The greatest artists have been magicians — alchemists transforming ordinary pigments, stone, and metal through their sustaining passion. When we see such pieces of art, they ring like a bell in us forever. We never forget this delicate, gentle sensation of enlightenment. It raises us to a new level of being which we can never relinquish. This collection contained not just one or two pieces capable of bringing the viewer to that heightened emotional level; almost every piece contained the ability to ring that special bell of our personal growth. This group of sacred objects mesmerized viewers into a deeper personal level of universal awareness. Oglethorpe University Museum was honored to be co-sponsor of this exhibit, and to assist the efforts of Drepung Loseling Monastery in making it a reality. In his introduction to the printed catalog for this exhibition Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Director of The Mystical Arts of Tibet wrote:

It has not been easy to arrange a sizable exhibit of this nature. The Chinese Communist invasion of Tibet and the destruction of so much of Tibet’s ancient cultural heritage means that pieces of true antiquity and quality are extremely rare in the Tibetan community in exile. The Tibetan refugees escaping across the mountains into India often had to leave everything behind and come empty-handed. Fortunately, over the succeeding years a small number of H.H. the Dalai Lama’s sacred belongings arrived in India with fleeing refugees, and were returned to him. In addition, a fraction of Drepung Loseling’s collection was brought out in the early 1970’s and was returned to the reestablished monastery in Mundgod. It is most wonderful that these can now be shared with a larger viewing public, and is an indication of the generosity and open-mindedness of His Holiness and the Tibetan elders in exile.

Selected Highlights: