USC Pacific Asia Museum

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Pasadena, California 91101
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Sacred Stitches:
Tibetan Buddhist Images Pieced in Silk
by Leslie Rinchen Wongmo

September 29, 2002 through February 16, 2003
[Members Exhibition Preview on Saturday, September 28 from 1-5pm]

The Buddha Shakyamuni
The Buddha Shakyamuni, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

Accompanying Visions of Enlightenment and also running through January 12, 2003 is the unique exhibition Sacred Stitches: Tibetan Buddhist Images Pieced in Silk by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo. This exhibition, on view in Gallery 10, features Buddhist silk images pieced together like a mosaic by hand, a traditional Tibetan art form mastered by only a handful of artists. The seven thangkas (scroll images) featured depict Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other deities, all pieced together with fine silk satins and brocades. Also on display are partly made pieces, materials, and photographs that illustrate the creative process.

Known in Tibetan as gˆchen thangka (precious cloth scroll images), or gˆku (cloth images), Tibetan thangkas (religious scroll images) are usually painted with mineral pigments and gold on a cotton canvas. Fabric thangkas appear to have first been made in Tibet in the 15th century using indigenous appliqué techniques traditionally employed in the making of nomad and festival tents, ritual dance costumes, and altar decorations. Pieced and embroidered thangkas became popular during the 18th and 19th centuries and spread throughout the entire Tibetan Buddhist region. Because all the work is done by hand to precise standards, each thangka requires several months to complete.

The artist, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo, has been a student of pieced-silk thangkas for ten years. She studied under a Tibetan master in India for four years, and now devotes her life to the continuation and preservation of this art. She will be at USC Pacific Asia Museum to talk about her work on Saturday, November 16 during the Himalayan Family Festival Day.

Green Tara detail
Green Tara detail of offering, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

Related Events:

  • Members' Exhibition Preview is on Saturday, September 28, from 1-5pm. Exhibition Curator, Meher McArthur will conduct special members' tours at 2:30pm and 3:30pm.
  • Saturday November 16, 1-4pm
    Buddha: Faces of Enlightenment Festival

    Join the Himalayan Arts Council for an afternoon devoted to the arts and cultures of Tibet and Nepal. The event will begin with a Moh-Puja ceremony. Following this will be performances by Tibetan artists and a tour with artist, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo of her exhibition, Sacred Stitches. Visitors may also attend docent led tours of the exhibition, Visions of Enlightenment and view an exhibition of Nepali Life by Sharmila Mali. Ongoing children's workshops include making personal thangkas, a crash-course in Nepali handwriting, and traditional Nepali doll-making. Nepali snacks will be available for sampling. Free.
  • Related Exhibit
    September 29, 2002 – January 12, 2003
    Visions of Enlightenment:
    Understanding the Art of Buddhism

    Visions of Enlightenment introduces Buddhist figures to explain the basic iconography and symbolism of Buddhism. Four areas of Buddhist art are explored in this exhibition.more...