RELIGIOUS AND ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE STUDY AND CONSERVATION OF OF TIBETAN SCULPTURE
CHANDRA L. REEDY
ABSTRACT—Sculptures serve a variety of functions within Tibetan religious practices. They aid the practitioner in meditation, communicate meditative insight, and provide the donors with a means for gaining spiritual merit. Many images were never intended to be viewed by those not initiated into the meditative practice for the deity represented. Practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism have mixed emotions about the propriety of public museum exhibition of certain sculptures, and many will not discuss details of iconography and symbolism of such sculptures with noninitiates. Some practical solutions for obtaining a better understanding of Tibetan Buddhist sculptures and for deciding how they should best be stored, displayed, or handled include consulting with local Tibetan Buddhist communities or major Buddhist centers, participating in some Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies or events when possible, realizing the inherent complexity of Tibetan art images and religious practices and the need to consult with those who study Tibetan teachings to unravel them, and maintaining respect for the people who made and used the sculptures.
2. THE FUNCTION OF ICONIC IMAGES WITHIN TIBETAN RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
3. STUDY AND DISPLAY OF TIBETAN BUDDHIST IMAGES
4. PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS
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