Tibet’s past was full of grand projects, ceremonies and artistic endeavors. In fact, these great cultural understandings were a societal priority that enthralled all who witnessed them. Descriptions of these works fired my imagination, I poured over photographs and scoured the memories of others, primarily my husband, Kalsang who has been quite young when he left, and Genden Namgyal, the Master of Robes, head of the Tailors’ Guild, who had served the Ganden Phodrang since the time of the 13th Dalai Lama. There was our late thangka master, Tencho la too, who has his own unique perspective since he has only seen the end of the grandeur, when it was being destroyed. No doubt this was what drove him to try and bring it back.
Kim Yeshi, Co-Founder
Norbulingka was built on a dream and a part of that dream was to see big project materialize once again, a goal shared by our founding members and the masters they worked with in the initial years of Norbulingka. The objective was not just to make art pieces that would satisfy the average consumer of religious art, but to capture the past glory of exceptional works, and prove to the world that Tibetan art is not only alive, but that it has a future in today’s world. The exceptional works of art would serve to capture the imagination and gain the appreciation of art lovers worldwide, revealing a form of creative genius that no one thought still existed. As we look back, we realize the amazing richness of the works we have produced, pieces worthy of being exhibited in museums, now spread out throughout the world. We realize that more than twenty-five years of training artists and striving for excellence have born their fruit. A standard has been restored, even if it has gone more or less unnoticed.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama's blessing and inspiration for Norbulingka has been instrumental. So, in the birthday month of His Holiness, we are starting this series to present some of the special projects Norbulingka’s artists have created over the years. We will be sharing a series of such projects that include the large Buddha statue in our temple, a series of 25 thangkas depicting the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. In terms of events, there was the 2006 Kalachakra initiations, bestowed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Amaravati, India which brought together 100,000 people from India, Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan regions. For the event, Norbulingka built the most elaborate tent, a feat of fabric engineering. There was also the Sixteen Arhats kyigu, or an enormous appliqued thangka. On the literary side, there is the ongoing biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which began at Norbulingka in 2000 and the Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Tibetan Culture. Then, there were smaller projects, made for the sake of cultural enrichment, for the love of the craft and the perpetuation of tradition.