Stanford Libraries acquire rare volume of Tibetan murals

September 24, 2018
D. Vanessa Kam
Image from Thomas Laird's Murals of Tibet.  Köln: Taschen, 2018.

The Stanford Libraries have recently acquired a copy of Thomas Laird's Murals of Tibet, published by TASCHEN Books.  This rare 498- paged item, measuring 19.7 x     27.6 inches and featuring a number of life-size reproductions of Tibetan Buddhist murals, is one of only a thousand copies produced.

Murals of Tibet is a monumental work.  It was produced by the photographer Thomas Laird, who has been working in the Himalayas since the 1970s.  For the past ten years he has been working to create life-size images of Tibetan Buddhist wall mural paintings, which have been displayed in galleries and private collections across the world.  Murals of Tibet features images from the monasteries of Drathang, Gongkar Chode, Jokhang, Shalu, the Lukhang Temple, Jonang, Samye, Gyantse Palkor, the Potala Palace, Sakya, Drepung, and Nechung.  These images are organized in a sequence that approximates the route that pilgrims might have taken when going on pilgrimage to these important sites of Tibetan Buddhist learning and practice.  Captured using multi-image capture techniques, the paintings are reproduced in extremely high quality using five colors of ink, including gold.  Many of the images are displayed at multiple sizes, so that the book shows entire murals as well as close-up details of specific parts.  The volume is accompanied by a 528 page scholarly companion volume including contributions from Buddhologists such as Robert Thurman, Heather Stoddard, and Jacob Winkler.  It is displayed on a custom stand designed by the architect and designer Shigeru Ban, using accessible materials that Ban is known for: cardboard and wood.

Murals of Tibet is available for viewing at the Bowes Art & Architecture Library.  To access it, place a request for viewing with the Bowes Library staff at the circulation/reference desk. 

- Joshua Capitanio, Eastern Religions Subject Specialist, East Asia Library

- D. Vanessa Kam, Art and Architecture Subject Specialist, Bowes Art & Architecture Library

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