A Mancunian Mantra: Part I

As part of his 2012 summer tour the Dalai Lama will visit Manchester on June 16, 17 and 18. During these three days he will address an audience of thousands, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike, at the Manchester Evening News Arena.

The 14th and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

In anticipation of his visit I’ll be sharing with you some wonderful objects from our Tibetan collection and their associated stories. Over the next several weeks you’ll see a fascinating array of objects, and to begin with we have  a stone upon which a six-syllable mantra, or spell, has been shallowly carved.

Stone carved with Tibetan characters. Pre-1938. Tibet, Asia. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.

Stones like this were used as offerings at, and to build walls between, Buddhist shrines.The inscribed mantra could be invoking Tara, the female wisdom partner of the Bodhisattva of compassion Avalokitesvara.

Thangka, or Buddhist painting, of a four arm Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva flanked by a white and green Tara respectively.

The stone was purchased by the Museum in 1938 from Professor V B Meyer along with other objects in his possession from India, Burma and Sri Lanka. Each of the objects include examples of various scripts and it’s likely Meyer specialised  in Asian languages. Whether he actually visited Tibet is not entirely clear.

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Way Out North West

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West company spent several weeks  in Salford in 1887 and the Manchester Museum has some very special, and unique, material relating to this occurance.

 

Buffalo Bill's Wild West show poster, 1899 (Not part of the Manchester Museum collection)

 

In pervious blog posts I’ve detailed this material (https://mancultural.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/the-return-of-red-shirt/) but if you’d like to find out more I’ll be giving a talk this Friday at 1pm in the Museum as part of the Manchester Histories Festival. Please do feel free to drop in but do be aware that space is limited so be punctual!

Stephen Terence Welsh

Curator of Living Cultures