The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs
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For artists, designers, and all with an interest in Buddhist and Tibetan art, this is the first exhaustive reference to the seemingly infinite variety of symbols found throughout Tibetan art in line drawings, paintings, and ritual objects. Hundreds of the author's line drawings depict all the major Tibetan symbols and motifs—landscapes, deities, animals, plants, gurus, mudras (ritual hand gestures), dragons, and other mythic creatures—ranging from complex mythological scenes to small, simple ornaments.
Tibetan Buddhism has one of the most complex iconographies of any religion. Robert Beer, the artist who brought to life the saints of Tibetan Buddhism in Buddhist Masters of Enchantment, has now brought the myriad symbols of Tibetan Buddhist art to life. Not exactly arranged like an encyclopedia, this book is more like a tour of the categories of Tibetan Buddhist symbols, beginning with Landscape Elements (rocks, clouds, rainbows, etc.); moving on to such areas as Flowers and Trees, Cosmology, and Mudras (hand gestures); and ending with Geometric Borders. Exquisitely detailed line drawings (using fine-pointed traditional brushes) are grouped on full-size plates, each of which the author tells us took between 50 and 200 hours to draw. The eight years that went into this book are revealed not only in the drawings but also in the text that is equally detailed in its descriptions of the religious significance of the symbols as well as their sources and development in Tibetan art. Beer's encyclopedic knowledge has not come from book learning, but from 30 years of doing Tibetan art and learning firsthand from Tibetan masters. After glimpsing just of few of these plates, you'll be calling Beer a master too. --Brian Bruya
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