Himalayan Art

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Art was largely used to express traditions in the Himalayan region. Once upon Many Times is an exhibition at Rubin Museum of Art representing a wide range of visual narratives and reproductions of temple murals, which can be regarded as exceptional examples of Himalayan art based upon Tibetan myths and legends. Furthermore, this paper will analyze the color arrangement, composition, proportion, hierarchy and motifs of the historical narrative Shantarakshita and scenes of his life and the Drowa Sangmo mural represented at the exhibition Once upon Many Times.

The Drowa Sangmo Mural and the portrait of Shantarakshita are both essential examples of Himalayan Buddhist art, telling stories not just of the literal history of Buddhism but also
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The colors used in the painting are complementary with orange, blue and green dominating over the color pattern.

Surrounding the image of Shantarakshita, who is the central image of what is essentially a mandala composition, are detailed scenes depicting how the eminent teacher brought the teachings of the Buddha to Tibet and helped to establish the Himalayan nation’s first Buddhist monastery. The eye remains drawn to Shantarakshita, as the artist intends to praise Shantarakshita as the one who firmly established Buddhism in the hearts, minds, souls, and daily lives of Tibetans. Portrayed in a rich color palette containing saturated blues, reds, greens, and oranges, there is no remaining white space on the canvas. The lowest portion of the composition is more cluttered than the uppermost portion, serving a symbolic function. The artist contrasts the ordinary world of the human mind and society with the transcendent world of enlightenment. The blue halo surrounding Shantarakshita leads the eye up, through a lotus blossom, towards the two figures above him: Shakyamuni Buddha to the right and Shantarakshita’s own teacher to the left (“Historical Narrative: Shantarakshita”).
Although it is permanently on display in a Tibetan temple, the Drowa Sangmo Mural depicts more of an ordinary scene than the portrait of Shantarakshita. However, it is entirely mundane in Tibetan society. The Drowa Sangmo
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