This book focuses on the Ashmolean Museum's important collection of Buddhist metal sculptures and other works of religious art from the Himalayan regions of Tibet and Nepal.
Mainly these works date from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, before the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. But many of the finest examples in the collection belong to the earlier, formative periods of Himalayan art, c.700-1400 AD. They include superb and graceful images of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and other Buddhist deities, conveying a powerful sense of spirituality. Besides religious images in bronze, silver, stone or wood, there is also a wide range of decorative metalwork, including a rare early silver vase decorated with phoenixes and a variety of brass protective amulets (tokcha) worn by devout Tibetans over the centuries.
These richly diverse works of early Himalayan art are fully catalogued and illustrated, in many cases for the first time, in this book by Amy Heller. They are also set within their historical and cultural context in her introductory essay, "Tracing the development of early Himalayan sculpture".
Early Himalayan Art, Amy Heller, Ashmolean, Paperback, 2008, 174 Pages, $24.95
Amy Heller is a Tibetologist and art historian. Born in New York, after graduation from Barnard College of Columbia University, she lived in Paris where she completed her studies in Tibetan history and Philology at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (La Sorbonne) and Institut National de Langues et Civilisations Orientales. Since 1986 she is affiliated with the Paris Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique ( Tibetan studies unit 8155). Visiting Professor at the Centre for Tibetan Studies, Sichuan University, Chengdu, 2007-2012, her previous books include Tibetan Art, Tracing the Development of Art and Spirituality in Tibet, (1999, Jaca Book), and Early Himalayan Art (2008, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). She was VIsiting Professor at La Sapienza, Roma, 2006 and 2008. Author of numerous articles on art, rituals and history of Tibet and the Himalayas, she has collaborated on exhibitions for Musée Guimet, Art Institute of Chicago, Abegg Foundation (Switzerland), the Tibetan Collection of The Newark Museum, and Museum for Ethnography of Zurich University. In parallel to her research, she travels extensively in Tibet and the Himalayas where she has worked on conservation projects. Under the auspices of the Swiss government, she supervised the roof conservation project of the ancient Ramoche Temple in Lhasa.