Monk Dancers of Tibet

Overview

In the midst of the devastation that has been wrought on their culture, the monk dancers in the Shechen monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, are devoted to preserving the sacred dances central to the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The dances, which originated in India and flourished for centuries in Tibet, are teaching stories—each mask, costume, movement, and gesture has a specific significance and embodies the values of Buddhism. The dances...

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Overview

In the midst of the devastation that has been wrought on their culture, the monk dancers in the Shechen monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, are devoted to preserving the sacred dances central to the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The dances, which originated in India and flourished for centuries in Tibet, are teaching stories—each mask, costume, movement, and gesture has a specific significance and embodies the values of Buddhism. The dances are the monks' spiritual gift to the lay community.

The origin of the sacred Buddhist dance, or cham, goes back to the ninth century, when Guru Padmasambhava introduced Buddhism to Tibet. Through the ages, the practice has been advanced by great masters whose visionary experiences enriched and enhanced the dance forms. The sacred dances were then transmitted as accurately as possible by the masters' disciples from generation to generation.

The dances are now preserved in exile in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and have been presented in the West, by the monks of Shechen and other Tibetan monasteries, in the same spirit of sharing a profound inner experience. In vivid, full-color photos and illuminating text, the well-known author and photographer Matthiew Ricard reveals the painstaking preparations for and meanings behind the dances, as well as the intriguing history of this uniquely colorful teaching practice.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
French Buddhist monk Ricard (The Quantum and the Lotus) combines a considerable talent for photography with a clear understanding of Buddhist concepts to create this valuable record of the sacred dance traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. The dances, which are kept alive by the monks at the Shechen monastery in Kathmandu and at other locations in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, might seem esoteric or even primitive to an uninformed observer, but here they are carefully described in the context of the Buddhist doctrine that they serve to embody. The explanations presume no prior knowledge of Buddhism, and the early chapters serve as a clear, succinct summary of basic Buddhist ideas. This book achieves the difficult task of describing meaningfully something that begs for direct personal experience to be fully appreciated. And yet the photographs are the real treasures here. Beautifully composed and artfully arranged, they provide a perfect record of these profound spiritual practices that, like so many other aspects of the rich Tibetan culture, have a precarious existence in exile. Recommended for all collections.-Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570629747
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/14/2003
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 8.03 (w) x 11.75 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthieu Ricard is a former scientist who gave up that life to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He is the Dalai Lama's interpreter in French, has translated numerous Buddhist texts, and is the author of The Quantum and the Lotus, Journey to Enlightenment, and, with Jean-François Revel, The Monk and the Philosopher.

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