The Philadelphia Museum of Art
presents today Peaks of Faith: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas, on view through May 2009. The masterpieces in this exhibition encompass nearly a millennium of art from across the Himalayan region (centered on Tibet and Nepal) and from neighboring areas under its cultural influence. The works on view range from a sublime North Indian bronze Ratnasambhava Buddha of about the eleventh century to the monumental and gruesome eighteenth-century painting Banquet for Dharmapalas with Mount Meru from Mongolia.
Each of these works was created for the specific type of Buddhism that developed in the area, often called Vajrayana (the indestructible path). Using an elaborate array of symbolically potent images of buddhas, deities, and holy men as well as words and actions, practitioners of Vajrayana evoke within themselves the steps leading toward enlightenment. Whether in metal, paint, or wood, whether beautiful or terrifying, simple or intricate, each is dense with meaning, for each was created as a guide to aid progress along the indestructible path. The exhibition was curated by Darielle Mason • The Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art.