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03.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

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Home  → About us  → News  → The State Museum of Oriental Art hosted a round table conference on the past and present of Buddhist Art

The State Museum of Oriental Art hosted a round table conference on the past and present of Buddhist Art


Buddhist Art preservation was discussed between the custodians and makers of Buddhist artifacts of modern Russia. The topic of Buddhist art heritage and its conservation united scientists, arts community and authority representatives. Organizers of the event included the Russian Association of Diamond Way Buddhists of Karma Kagyu Tradition, International Non-profit-making Organization “Cultural Heritage of Himalayas” and the State Museum of Oriental Art.

T.K. Mkrtychev, professor, Doctor of Art History, deputy director in Science of the State Museum of Oriental Art, chaired the round table discussions. He started the meeting with a report illustrating early stages of Buddhist art history.

The next report “Religious Art and Society: the way towards each other” was presented by the president of the Russian Association of Diamond Way Buddhists of Karma Kagyu Tradition Alexander Koibagarov. The manager of the exhibition “Treasures of the Himalayas” Svetlana Belyaeva spoke about Buddhist statues and thankas as meditation objects. Zalina Toguzaeva, an expert in modern thanka painting, shared her view on development of Tibetan thanka paintig in Russia. Anna Shimanskaya, PhD student of the Orient University, presented her report “The aspects of exhibiting Buddhist Art objects”.

The director of the Buddhist publishing house Michail Kochergin introduced the activities of the publishing house to the audience. Vera Dronova, the coordinator of scientific events of the Russian Association of Diamond Way Buddhists of Karma Kagyu Tradition, spoke about scientific conferences “Vajrayana Buddhism in Russia” and the digests which are released as follow-ups, about round tables “Buddhist Art in the Past and Present” organized by the Association as part of the exhibition “Treasures of the Himalayas” and the brochures summarizing the results of such round tables.

Scientific community was represented by such famous and respected scientists as Doctor of History, professor N.L. Zhukovskaya (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, the Russian Academy of Sciences); professor of Moscow State University, doctor of Philology, chief research associate V.V. Vertogradova (Institute of Oriental Studies, the RAS and Moscow State University); PhD in History N.V. Alexandrova (Institute of Oriental Studies, the RAS); PhD in History V.M. Yakovlev (Institute of Oriental Studies, the RAS); D.I. Zhutaev (Institute of Oriental Studies, the RAS); N.G. Alfonso (the State Museum of Oriental Art); PhD in History E.V. Leontieva (Oriental University), deputy director of the Orient Museum T.H. Metaksa and many others. All representatives of the scientific elite actively participated in discussing issues faced by artists, art historians, ethnographers and Buddhist art researchers in respect of ensuring conservation and development of Buddhist Arts and Crafts traditions.

In the course of the discussion it was noted that Buddhism as one of the leading world religions has been developing in Russia for several centuries. During this period the world perception, ethics and philosophy of Buddhism have been deeply integrated into Russian culture that was in a considerable way facilitated by the Buddhist regions which were part of the Russian Empire as well as by neighboring Buddhist societies. The XIX and early XX centuries witnessed development of one of the most notorious schools of oriental studies in the world. Within the last two decades practically all leading Buddhist schools have reemerged in Russia. Along with Buddhist practices Buddhist Art has been coming back to life with its thanka painting, construction of stupas and reconstruction of monuments.

The issue of preserving cultural heritage of the Himalayan region was discussed at the round table separately. According to the principal director of the Orientaliya publishing house, Mikhail Kochergin, contemporary art historians, Buddhism researchers and museum personnel face two challenges of major importance: preservation of the Buddhist Art objects manufactured in the past and conservation of Buddhist Art traditions for the future.

“We would like very much to fulfill both tasks at a professional level, because ancient Buddhist teachings exact of us a lot of respect. Without transmission of the skills and canons to the West and Russia this unique kind of art will probably disappear. It needs our support”, – he emphasized.

All round table attendants expressed a wish to unite all their efforts in preserving unique cultural traditions of Central Asia and Russia. The organizers of the exhibition “Treasures of Himalayas” which provided the frame for this event fully supported this intention. They plan to hold round tables dedicated to Buddhist Art preservation in each city where the traveling exhibition “Treasures of Himalayas” will run. There was a similar meeting between Saint-Petersburg scientists and art historians last year. The participants of the round table had the opportunity to look through the brochure published as a follow-up.


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