Unique butter sculptures

Having built more than fifteen sand mandalas in Russia and in the countries of former Soviet Union, performed more than fifty big rituals and ceremonies if full accordance with 5 hundred years old tantric traditions of the monastery, Gyudmed is specially respect ed in our country. No wonder, that this very monastery have introduced Tibetan monastic tradition on the first international festival TIBET: traditions, art, philosophy.

For the first time outside the Tibetan community, the masters from Gyudmed monastery were specially invited to create two-meters-high sculptures from butter depicting Buddhist saints and deities, like those that their monastery had been always making in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Delicately made butter sculptures have been raised during the whole month by ten masters from Gyudmed, after that they were presented at the festival TIBET and consecrated during big colorful ceremony

For the first time a big sand mandala of Guhyasamaji, king of tantras, was built in Russia. Such mandala is annually raised in Gyudmed and is accompanied with complicated days-long rituals.

Invitation of Gyudmed monastery to the festival TIBET is explained with the special position it has in the Tibetan community. Gyudmed is the tantric monastery which, unlike sutric monasteries Ganden, Drepung and Sera, has 5 hundred years old unbroken succession lineage of tantric practices. It gives a special power to each ritual performed by its monks. Though tantra in also learned in other monasteries, only Gyudmed and Gyuto are the real keepers of all tantric teachings of Lama Tsonkapa, who personally transmitted them to the founder of Gyudmed monastery Jetsun Sherab Senge.

Tibetan butter sculpture

Gyudmed monks have won the international recognition with their perfect skills in tantric arts, which, along with their famous throat chanting, are the parts of ceremonies and rituals.

Butter sculpture takes a special place among them, for this is the art, which hardly can be met outside the Land of Snows, and for the last years-the Tibetan communities in exile.

This quite unusual form of spiritual arts appeared in Tibet, in the cold country, inhabited by the nomadic tribes. Tibetans with their yak and sheep herds of many thousands, since early ages offered to Buddhas everything they got from their domestic animals. The first butter from each dri (female yak), as the most precious one), was traditionally offered to the Buddhist monasteries. In their turn the monks offered it to the enlightened beings, but before they shaped the butter into exquisite form, colored it in different colors and created the images of the great Buddhist masters, deities and Dharma protectors, as well as mandalas and the plots from sacred texts.

Artistic methods and skills of creating butter sculptures were transmitted from teacher to student, and this art evidently has 3 hundred years history. Traditionally butter sculptures were made for Losar, Tibetan New Year. But lamas started their work long before this holiday - butter sculpture, like any other real work of art, demands many hours of work and incredible concentration. Gyudmed lamas, who create butter sculptures nowadays to the New Year celebrations in Dharmsala, are working during a month starting from daybreak hours till complete darkness with a very short break for lunch.

They have to complete the sculptures till the 15th day of the first month. According to the Tibetan calendar this month is considered to be auspicious, because at this time Buddha defeated the enemies of his doctrine. The 15th day of this month, the full moon, is the most auspicious and favorable for the spiritual practice. Exactly on this day there is a great holiday of offering the butter sculptures (Chonga Chopa), which has always been celebrated in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.

Large-scale exhibition of big butter sculptures like those that the monks annually presented in Lhasa during the celebration of Tibetan New Year Losar, for the first time has been presented in Russia and in the whole world, ever outside the Tibetan community.

Festival Tibet-2004, all events


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