A Mancunian Mantra: Part III

The Dalai Lama finally touched down at Manchester Airport yesterday. Over the next several days he will address a congregation of literally thousands at the MEN Arena.

Upon his arrival at the Lowry Hotel he greeted Salford mayor Ian Stewart with a customary Tibetan scarf ceremony. We have several textiles from Tibet in the Living Cultures collection, including a shawl and prayer flags.

The shawl was donated by Ms L Start and is expertly woven with geometric and animal designs. It is likely to date around the early 19th century.

Shawl. Tibet, Asia. Early 19th century. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.

The prayer flags were donated in 1955 by Prof. Rev Lawrence E Browne and depcit the wind horse, or lungta. In Tibetan Buddhist belief the wind horse represents good fortune.

Prayer flags. Tibet, Asia. 1955. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures Collection.

Here’s hoping the Dalai Lama’s visit is a successful one.

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A Mancunian Mantra: Part II

It’s only several weeks now until the Dalai Lama visits Manchester, and as promised I have more wonderful Tibetan objects from the Living Cultures collection to share with you.

In 1969 Salford Museum transferred their collection of ethnography to the Manchester Museum, included in this transfer was an ornate Tibetan brass tea-pot.

Brass tea-pot. Tibet. 1800-1899. The Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection.

Such tea-pots are used in Buddhist monasteries in Tibet to provide monks with refreshment during their remarkably long ceremonies. This particular tea-pot is likely to have been made and used in the 19th century, making it over 100 years old. Similar in age is a wooden tea-bowl intricately decorated with skulls and Buddhas made from brass, silver and turquoise.

Tea bowl. Tibet. 1800-1899. The Manchester Living Cultures collection.

 The bowl was collected by Arnold Forrester Warden, a collector passionate about East Asia, and donated to the Museum in 1964.

I’ll be back in June with part III and more fascinating Tibetan objects.

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.