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British Museum to exhibit Tibetan objects made of human remains/ENG

2020. február 27./Phayul.com/TibetPress

eredeti cikk

By Choekyi Lhamo



DHARAMSHALA, Feb 26: British Museum in London will hold an exhibition “Tantra: Enlightenment to Revolution” from Apr 23 to Jul 26 where Tibetan objects made of human remains will be on display, reports The Guardian. These objects which have been characterised with the idea of “witchcraft or necromancy” will be showcased with the hope of finally being represented in “their true light”.

The objects include a drum made from the tops of two skulls (damaru); a trumpet made from a hollowed-out thighbone (kangling); a ritual cup made from a skull (kapala) and an apron of a carved human bone (rus gyan). These instruments are used to invoke divine spirits to feast on your own body, which is a way of surrendering your ego. Tibetan Tantric practitioners often willingly donated their skulls and bones to a lama or monasteries in order to gain spiritual merit after their death.

In Tantric Buddhist practice, these objects show that “life is conceived as a preparation for death.” Imma Ramos, the curator of the exhibition on Tantra, said, “There is nothing nihilistic about that. It is very much celebrating life. It is a much more positive, holistic attitude to death which is very different to the west where there is a very negative mindset around mortality.” She hopes that by displaying such objects it will help demystify them.

The museum has worked with Tibetans through consultations and workshops to prepare for the display where the exhibition will also include audio interviews. Thupten Kelsang, an Oxford student who has helped gather information for the museum, expressed his delight for the display, “These are esoteric objects, very specialised objects and can sometimes be taken out of context. I’m happy that with this exhibition Tibetans are finally coming forward and talking and sharing their opinions and life histories and experiences.”

Ayesha Fuentes, A PhD student at SOAS studying the use of human remains in Tibetan tantra, hopes that this will change the language used to describe such practices, “That language of devil worship and necromancy and sorcery …it originated from colonial scholarship and was disseminated all through the anglophone world. In the States, where I’m from, museum records everywhere will still bring up that language.”

The museum has more than 6,000 examples of human remains including Egyptian mummies and Lindow Man (who dates from the mid-first century). The Tibetan human remains will be part of an exhibition exploring and exploding myths about Tantra which has usually been equated in the west with sex and yoga.

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