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TIBET: MOUNTAINS AND VALLEYS, CASTLES AND TENTS is organized by The Newark Museum to showcase its great historical and archival treasures of Tibetan culture, considered the finest in the Western Hemisphere. For the first time, these objects are being shown outside the Museum.
The high remote plateau of Tibet sits squarely in the center of Asia, surrounded by the largest mountains in the world, the vast Taklamakan desert and the grasslands of Mongolia. Fierce Tibetan warriors first emerged in historical records in the 7th century as they fought for control of the lucrative trade routes across Central Asia. In the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tibetan empire stretched from western China to the oasis cities of Khotan and Kashgar and from the Himalayas to the Kunlun mountains. Although this empire collapsed in the mid 9th century, the legacy of a proud warrior elite living in fortified castles and lavish traveling tents amidst the formidable mountains and lush valleys of the plateau remained part of the Tibetan culture into the first half of the 20th century.
Beginning with an overview of Tibetan geography and history, MOUNTAINS AND VALLEYS, CASTLES AND TENTS shows the influence of extreme altitudes and barren terrain upon Tibetan economics, religion and artistic expression. Though physically isolated from much of the world by high deserts and mountains, Tibet has always been a commercially active area, crisscrossed by trade routes. The Tibetan people also have a spiritual connection to the high and rugged land, and early creation myths consider the plateau a sacred, spiritually potent area. The physical land of Tibet—deserts, mountain ranges, lakes and rivers—is powerfully depicted in photographs from the Museum’s collection, many taken in the early 1900s by Dr. Albert L. Shelton, The Newark Museum’s first source of Tibetan art, on his journeys through Tibet.
MOUNTAINS AND VALLEYS,
CASTLES AND TENTS explores two traditional ways of life and
their profound impact upon Tibetan society. The first addresses the
lifestyle of the aristocracy, utilizing lavishly decorated daily objects
and ceremonial ornaments to illustrate the political power and social
standing of the noble families of Tibet. The second part of the exhibition
examines the personal belongings and tools of nomadic traders, farmers
and herders of eastern and northeastern Tibet.
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