ARTWORK AT TABO MONASTERY

Wi-nyu-min and retinue. main Temple, Old Entry Hall, west wall. (C.Jahoda, 2000).
A thousand years ago Tabo served as a meeting place between two cultures, Indian and Tibetan. This is graphically illustrated in the art work in the various temples .

The wall paintings in the entry hall and fragments from the original wall paintings in the ambulatory (the circumambulation walk-way) demonstrate that when Yeshe O'd and his two sons founded the monastery in 996 the artistic culture had a provincial, regional character with influences deriving from India and Central Asia. Particularly unexpected is the presence of iconographic themes deriving from non-buddhist traditions, most importantly the protectress Wi-nyu-myin.

A totally new aesthetic is introduced in the 11th century.

(Probably) Lama Jangchub, Renovation Inscription. Photo: J.Poncar 2001
The assembly hall (du khang), ambulatory (kor lam) and perhaps cella (dri tsang khang) as they exist today, with only areas of damage and restoration, contain a single unified iconographic program. Both the sophistication of the underlying philosophical conception and the clarity of its expression in visual terms, testify to the presence of a unique and gifted personality, or personalities. Not only was there a will to create a symbolically coherent ritual space but also the means to gather artists and materials of the highest quality. The Main Temple appears to represent the entire Vajradhatu Mandala.

This temple is not only one of the most stunning artistic achievements of its time, but it also documents the ideology of this remarkable royal dynasty.

Comparing the different representation of historical personages, we see how the change in the style and composition of the images reflects social and political changes.

Left to right Gita, Vajradharma, Vajratiksna. Main Temple, corner of north and west wall.Photo: J.Poncar 2001
The ambitious renovation of this royal monastery was completed in the same year that Atisha arrived in Western Tibet. The Bengali monk was in West Tibet from 1042-1045.

A SPECIAL APPEAL FOR THE SERKONG SCHOOL

We created the Serkong School in order to help support poorer students, by providing free room and board. The school presently has 310 students, but the old school building is need of renovation. The growing student population also needs an additional dormitory (hostel) building, and funding for these efforts is urgently needed.
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PERMIT REQUIREMENTS TO VISIT SPITI

Indian nationals do not require a permit. Foreign tourists are advised to apply at the DC office (District Collectorate office) at Shimla or Rekong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, for a permit to visit Tabo from Kinnaur side.
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