Tibetan Legacy: Paintings from the Hahn Kwang-ho Collection
11 September – 23 November 2003
This exhibition of Tibetan banner paintings, thang-kas, is drawn from the collection of Dr. Hahn Kwang-ho, of Seoul. Tibetan painting is primarily religious and draws on the rich reservoir of Buddhist tradition as received in Tibet from India from the 8th century onwards.
While most of the thang-kas in the exhibition are of much later date (18th to 20th century), they nevertheless draw on these earlier ideas. Buddhism saw a distinctive development in Tibet and has received increasing interest from the public over the last twenty years. The painting's subject matter ranges from the compassionate goddess Tara to the terrifying guardian figures, and from the remarkable sequence of circular diagrams representing the celestial zones, known as mandalas, to the religious traditions of non-Buddhist Tibet, Bon.
The idea of making paintings of this type to be used in the practice of meditation, as an aid to concentrate upon one particular deity or teaching, was certainly brought to Tibet with the very earliest of the missionaries from India in the late centuries of the first millennium AD. All of the paintings are in the thang-ka format, of paint on cotton mounted in silk brocade and suspended from wooden rollers.
Dr. Hahn is a well-known collector in Korea and has also been an enthusiastic supporter of the Korea collections in the British Museum. Examples of works of art acquired through his generosity can be viewed in the Korea Gallery (Room 67).