Thursday May 9, 2013
Tags for: Tantra in Buddhist Art
  • Press Release

Tantra in Buddhist Art

exterior of the CMA building

Features masterworks of tantric art from across Asia

CLEVELAND (May 9, 2013) – The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Tantra in Buddhist Art, an exhibition that explores the concepts and characteristics of Tantra, a system of esoteric techniques used to reach the Buddhist spiritual goal of enlightenment, through twenty objects. It includes some of the earliest representations from India and works from as far away as Indonesia, Cambodia, Tibet and Japan. The exhibition reveals the importance of this tradition across Asia and showcases tantric practices of visualization in yogic meditation, repetition of codified syllables (mantras) and prolific use of diagrams and images.

“Tantra is a concept from India that many have heard about, but may not know exactly what it is or how it arose,” said Sonya Quintanilla, George P. Bickford curator of Indian and Southeast Asian art. “This focus show seeks to clarify the meaning of Tantra and the use of its arts in tantric practices. The works of art on view, all of the highest aesthetic quality and ranging in date from the 8th to the 17th century, reveal how tantric practices spread not only to the Himalayan regions where it is well-known, but also to Southeast Asia, China and Japan.”

Highlights of the exhibition include some of the most important surviving works in the history of tantric art such as the recent acquisition of a dancing bronze Hevajra from Cambodia dating to around 1200 from the collection of Maxeen and John Flower, the gilt bronze Virupa made in the imperial workshop of an emperor of the Ming dynasty and one of the oldest surviving Tibetan paintings of the Cosmic Buddha Vairochana.

Tantra in Buddhist Art is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and will be on view through Sunday, September 15, 2013 in the Focus Gallery.

Related Programs

Illuminating the Lightning Path: Art of Buddhist Tantra
Wednesday, May 29, 7:00 p.m.
Focus Gallery
Using masterworks on view from India, Tibet, China and Cambodia, the exhibition curator Sonya Rhie Quintanilla will explain the concept of Tantra and the role of art in tantric practice. She will discuss the development of Tantra in the history of Buddhism, its broad geographical spread across Asia and how the concept has filtered into the western imagination. Meet in the Focus Gallery.

The Art of Meditation
Sunday, June 30, 2:00 p.m.
Focus Gallery
Join Buddhist nun Ani Palmo Rybicki for a discussion about Buddhist meditation as it relates to the Tantric tradition of Tibet. Ani Palmo will also be giving basic meditation instruction as part of this program. Gain a fresh perspective and deepen your appreciation of Tantra in Buddhist Art! Ani Palmo, a native Clevelander, is a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and the director of Songtsen Gampo Buddhist Center of Cleveland. She has been a practicing Buddhist since 1988 and an ordained nun since 1994. Meet in the Focus Gallery.

Gallery Talk
Friday, July 12, 7:00 p.m.
Focus Gallery
Explore the exhibition Tantra in Buddhist Art with Katie Kilroy Blaser, curatorial assistant for Asian art. Meet in the Focus Gallery.

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261