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Li Huanmin

Standing Director of Chinese Artists' Association, President of Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts

Rich in its own traditional culture, the Tibetan ethnic group in China has achieved greatness in all art fields, forming a cultural treasure house well known at home and abroad. Tibetan paintings, such as cliff paintings, lamasery murals, tangkas and Buddhist scripture woodcuts constitute an important part of the Tibetan cultural treasure house.

In the 1950s tremendous changes took place in Tibetan society when the serf system was abolished and Tibet began to develop towards modern socialism, whereas its traditional culture was duly respected and further developed, with painting arts flourish with each passing day. The new era saw the birth of new painters. The Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts established a national minority class to enroll talented students from areas inhabited by national minorities. The Academy gives the students scientific training, helps them acquire a good command of the basic skills of sketching, dissecting, perspective and coloring, and acquaints them with knowledge of Chinese and foreign arts, so as to expand their realms of aesthetics and other aspects in the hope of making them painters of a new generation who are able to keep pace with the era. Nyi-ma Tsering is one of the excellent graduates from the national minority class.

Nyima Tsering grew up in Dege County in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, an ancient cultural city surrounded by snow-covered mountains. The young Nyima Tsering was deeply impressed by the imposing Dege Scripture Printing Academy, the colorful mural paintings and the solemn but vivid bronze and clay sculptures in the area, which formed a good foundation for him to develop along the road of ethnical arts. He was admitted into the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 1958 and returned to his home town in 1962 after graduation with the hope of making use of what he had learned during the past five years to depict the people of Tibet. He did make quite a number of paintings but they were hardly accepted by the Tibetan people due to their Han style. Even his Han teacher has pointed out:" it is absolutely necessary to learn scientific knowledge of fine arts in the interior regions. But as Tibetan painters, you must follow your own ethnical painters. No Han painters can ever replace you, neither the lama painters from the lamaseries. You must pursue a road never before taken."

Nyima Tsering and his academy schoolmates bravely undertook this important historical task. They re-studied Tibetan culture, visited lamaseries, merged themselves among the people, analyzed and copied murals and tangkas and made research into the composition, color, line and shape of painting. Eventually they created three new Tibetan paintings--King Gesar, Tat Derek, and Zhu De Meeting Gedag Living Buddha. The appearance of these three strongly ethnical paintings indicated that Tibetan paintings had entered a new stage. The three works were well received by the Tibetan people and lamas. A million prints could not meet the demand of the people. Chinese and foreign experts spoke highly of the three works, of which King Gesar was exhibited at the 1982 autumn salon in France and won the first prize for excellent works and a high-quality work prize awarded jointly by the Ministry of Culture, the State Nationalities Affairs Commission of the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Artists' Association. Since then Nyima Tsering and his colleagues have created a large number of new tangkas, which have been exhibited time and again in China and other countries, widely attracting attention of cultural circles at home and abroad.

Through long-term practice Nyima Tsering understands deeply that if he wants to make Tibetan painting better known to the outside world, he must, first and foremost, painstakingly study the ethnic group's culture and history and Buddhist classical scriptures, master the esthetical psychology of the Tibetan people shaped over its long history, probe Tibetans' spiritual connotations through their accumulated culture and actual life, absorb from these tremendous origins the strong points of alien arts and adopt new art languages. Therefore, he went deep into the snow mountains again, taking the lama artists in the lamaseries, artisans and craftsmen as his teachers, making friends with Tibetan scholars and, like a pilgrim, wandering for many years among the grottoes at Dunhuang and all the lamaseries. He copied and created a large number of works and wrote many good theses, such as The History of Tibetan Tangkas and Their Artistic Characteristics and Tibetan Murals in the Dunhuang Treasure House. Meanwhile, he studied once again the history of both Chinese and foreign fine arts. He shuttled between the ancient Tibetan culture and other cultures, trying to find out the integrating point between the two. The works created in this period, such as Chumo Sending a Crane to Deliver a Letter, Snowy Rigion, and Life, reflect a change from Tibetan scenery and customs to philosophic paintings. He maintains that Tibet's geographical isolation, screened off by the surrounding mountains, has cultivated the ethnic group's upright, brave, bold, firm and tenacious character and given the people a strong consciousness of life --a lofty worship of life and a fearlessness of death. His deep understanding of the social life and natural landscapes of this mysterious land has been reflected in his works The Boundary of Heaven and Years. Instead of simply imitating the external form of Tibetan painting, these works now naturally display the ethnic group's character and style. They are the results of long study of the inner life of the Tibetans and his bringing into play his own role in the ethnic group's art language.

Works by Nyima Tsering involve a great variety of art forms. He painted New Year pictures like Chumo Sending a Crane to Deliver a Letter, storybook pictures like King Gesar and large mural paintings like the Tenth Bainqen and Princess Wencheng Entering Tibet for Marriage. He created not only traditional paintings such as Milarepa, folk paintings such as Bathing, but also paintings with strong sense of modern times such as Polar Region Dream. He has been trying to catch the ethnic characteristics in various art forms. Through these colorful and intriguing works, one can easily see the depth of his understanding of the Tibetan heroic epic King Gesar, his intimate knowledge of the murals at Dunhuang and Buddhist art, his ability to combine artistic skills with modern fine arts and the art inspiration and intelligence typical of Nyima Tsering himself.

The late tenth Bainqen spoke highly of Nyima Tsering's achievements in art, granted him the title of "Bainqen Master Painter" and personally appointed him senior research fellow of traditional Tibetan Buddhist paintings of the China Tibetan-Language Higher Academy of Buddhism and issued him the highest honorary certificate. Nyima Tsering's name is listed in Who's Who in the World, published by the British Cambridge International Notable-Persons Biographical Center. Nyima Tsering is a member of the Chinese Artists' Association and a council member of the Sichuan Artists' Association.

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英文 中文 图片


1) Skt. Avalokitesvara with a Thousand Arms
Skt. Avalokitesvara with a Thousand Arms is also known as the Goddess of Mercy. She was worshipped by Songzan Gambo, the Tubo king in the 7th century, and later by the Esoteric Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

2) Master Padmasalbhava
Padmasalbhava, also known as Master Black Gold, founded in the 8th century the Ningma (Red) Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. He mainly practised Esoteric doctrine and is an important historical figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

3) Milarepa
Milarepa was one of the founders of the Bkah-bragyud Sect (White Lily Society).
His Songs of Realization was handed down to later generations. This painting shows him and his disciples practising Buddhism in remote mountains.

4) Military King Gesar
Biography of King Gesar, a world-renowned Tibetan heroic epic and the longest extant epic yet known in the world, describes the splendid achievements of King Gesar. The military King Gesar looks big and powerful, adept at martial arts. Legend has it that he subdued various demons and ghosts and defeated all enemies, becoming the greatest of heroes in the heart of the Tibetan people.

5) Literary King Gesar
The literary King Gesar, the embodiment of wisdom as king of the Tibetan people.

6) Bathing
Every July, Tibetans bathe in the crystal-clear water of melted snow from the high peaks. Legend has it that this divine, cosmic water not only washed away the body's filth, but also purifies the soul.

7) Heroic Young Gesar (four pieces)
Gesar, son of a heavenly god, was reincarnated as a poor child. After enduring many hardships and much suffering, he subdued demons and ghosts, saved the people from the abyss of misery and became a famous young hero known as the mighty Lion King.

8) New Life for Ancient Craftsmanship
Tibetans love meticulously made ornaments. Ancient craftsmanship handed down from older generations has taken a new lease on life and is thriving.

9) Chumo Sending a Crane to Deliver a Letter
When King Gesar went on an expedition, King Hor took the opportunity to attack his kingdom. Queen Chumo sent a crane with a letter to King Gesar informing him of the emergency situation. King Gesar immediately returned and defeated the enemy forces.

10) Ancestor of the Tibetan People
A legend says that the ancestor of the Tibetan people was a monkey enlightened by Skt. Avalokitesvara. Later the monkey was married to a female cave demon, the embodiment of Tara, who gave birth to six baby monkeys with the characteristics of heaven, Asura, man, animal, hungry ghost and hell from whom evolved the mankind of the snowy region.

11) Auspicious Source
The snow-covered Geladandong, where the Yangtze River originates, is considered the cradle of the great mother river at the heart of the Tibetan people.

12) Daughter of a Doe
A famous Tibetan opera tells this story: One day when an old hermit was meditating, bird droppings fell on his while cloak.
The old man went to a spring to wash the cloak. When the dirty water flowed downstream, a beautiful doe drank it. Later the doe gave birth to a pretty girl, Gzugskyi Nyima.

13) Gzugskyi Nyima (two pieces)
As soon as Gzugskyi Nyima came into the world, happiness walked toward her, so did evil.
After going through all kinds of calamities, Gzugskyi Nyima came to understand the philosophy of divorcing the multitude from human suffering and cherished great love for the world.

14) Song of Welcoming Spring
The Tibetan's forefathers welcomed spring by burning straw and weeds.

15) Dunhuang Impressions
The Dunhuang treasure house has Tibetan murals created in the Tubo Trisong Detson Period of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
This work was inspired by the Tibetan murals in Dunhuang.

16) Returning to Nature
In the modern world people hope to return to nature and live peacefully with animals.

17) Down from the High Mountains
A Tibetan living in the mountains walk into the market and modernization, with donkeys carrying pottery jars made with traditional craftsmanship.

18) Years
Scripture flags, yaks and ancient cypresses co-exist with the sun and the moon, representing years in the heart of the painter.

19) Life
An old woman planting a green sprout, symbol of life, on the lifeless reddish-brown spine of a mountain, standing for Tibetans' indomitable vitality despite a harsh natural environment.

20) A Distant Reminiscence
A love was killed by local customs. The young lovers rode to the deep, quiet mountains far from the people. The moonlight records their eternal love.

21) Musical Sounds on the Horizon
Immortal rocks and the faint image of Buddha turn the everlasting dreams of the Tibetan into musical sounds on the horizon.

22) Princess Wencheng Taking a Portrait of Skt. Sakyamuni to Tibet
Emperor Tai Zong of the Tang Dynasty (816-907) gave Princess Wencheng to Songzan Gambo, king of Tubo, in marrige. Princess Wencheng took with her to Tibet a life-size portrait of Skt. Sakyamuni at the age of twelve, determined to build a monastery for him. Songzan Gambo had the Jokhang Monastery built. After that Buddhism spread throughout the snowy plateau.

23) King Gesar Going on an Expedition Against King Hor
Heroic King Gesar fought the fierce and cruel King Hor and finally eliminated him.

24) Zongkaba Debating the Scriptures
Zongkapa (1357-1419), originally Losang Zhaba, was born in Huangzhong County, Qinghai. After learning the strong points of all schools and absorbing the essence of all Buddhist sects, he founded the Gelug Sect and built three big monasteries in Tibet. The predecessors of the Dalai Lama and Bainqen Lama were his disciples. The painting shows Zongkapa debating Buddhist scriptures with a master of another sect.

25) Immortal Bird
The auspicious immortal bird can see through everything with its sharp eyes and can clear away all obstacles with Buddhist dharma.

26) Pregnant with New Life
Surrounded by auspicious clouds, a new life is born.

27) Sitting in Meditation
An ascetic monk sitting in meditation in the remote mountains to ponder religious instructions and get rid of all mortal desire.

28) Wonderful Sound
The dharma conch sounds like Skt. Sakyamuni's preaching, auspicious and resonant in all directions.

29) Notes from Remote Antiquity
According to archaeological records, 40,000 to 50,000 years ago the ancestors of the Tibetan ethnic group began to live in the snowy region, leaving on the weathered rocks notes of their existence, struggle and propagation.

30) Subduing the Yak
The wise Tibetans subdued the powerful yak, known as the king of animals on the plateau, and tamed it into a helpmate.

31) Sinking and Floating
Yin and yang, sinking and floating, both belong to nature and samaras.

32) Drawing a Bow on a Cold Night
An intrepid man on the plateau, braving the cold night wind, practices martial arts.

33) Sacred Light
The Buddhist world: holy and pure light.

34) Light of Wisdom
Tubming Sangbuzhab was sent by King Songzan Gambo to a neighbouring country to study. After returning to Tibet, he created the new Tibetan language and translated a large number of Sanskrit classics, bringing the light of wisdom to Tibetans.

35) Zongkaba Travels and Studies
Zongkaba (1357-1419) was the founder of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. At the age of sixteen he started to travel all over Tibet to gain religious ideas and to study the classics. He took many famous masters as his teachers, and learned all others' strong points. He is an influential figure in the history of Tibet.

36) First Bath
Wise Trisong Detson, king of Tubo, was bathed by the sun and auspicious clouds after his birth, basking in the love of his mother.

37) Ruins Under the Moon
In time the once splendid ShangShung Kingdom disappeared mysteriously in the Himalayas, leaving behind nothing but ruined structures still emitting an ancient light under the cool moon.

38) Awareness
After six year's ascetic practice of Buddhism Skt. Sakyamuni became an immortal under a bodhi tree. All his disciples followed his example to practise Buddhism in remote mountains.

39) Love Song of the Sixth Dalai Camyang Gyaco
The Sixth Dalai Lama Camyang Gyaco wrote many poems and songs in his life. The painting shows how after Camyang Gyaco's lover went to the remote mountains to practise Buddhism, his heart followed her.

40) Snowy Region
The yak's back supported the plateau and the fierce-looking longhaired animal became an esteemed god. Ancestors overcame the darkness through competition of force, boldness and wisdom. Perhaps the twisted characters on the totem hide an epic covered by wind and snow.

41) Leading to Shambhala
Shambhala, an ideal paradise in the sea as well as a holy land for pilgrims.

42) The Final Holy Land
Gangrin Poche is regarded as the center axis of the sun, the moon, and the stars. In the heart of pilgrims it is the final holy land under the sun.

43) Boundary of Heaven
Tibetans have an incomparable, indomitable vitality. In the hard natural conditions on the "roof of the world" they live and raise new generations. On rocks with a life as long as heaven and earth they carved the Buddhist world and their ideals, an embodiment of happiness among misery, civilization among primitiveness and greatness among commonness. A lama in the picture is blowing the dharma conch to connect the road between man and god.

44) The Heights of Holy Land
Pious Tibetan women, following the footsteps of Buddha, worship the "sacred city" in the distance, letting their souls escape.

45) The Flock of Sheep Has Gone Away
In the deserted polar region a staunch life is resisting. A young shepherdess a flock of sheep that has gone far away.

46) Immortal Gangdise Mountains
The Gangdise Mountains are immortal in the eyes of the Tibetan people. They are gems of snow mountains, origins of rivers, spirit of all other mountains and the Hall of Ten Thousand Gods of the Orient. For thousands of years, innumerable pilgrims have been heading there.

47) Negotiating Peace
Sagya Pandit Gonggar Gyamcan held talks with Prince Gotan of the Yuan Dynasty on the question of unification at Liangzhou of Ganshu in mid-13th century.

48) Black and White World
In winter the "roof of the world" is covered with ice and snow. Sturdy, indomitable people and yaks express the meaning of life in the white world.

49) Heavenly Road
The path beneath the good luck trees is covered with footprints of pilgrims; the lofty scripture flag pole points the way to heaven.

50) Timely Rain
Men on the grasslands gallop in the rain to celebrate the promise of a good harvest.

51) In the Heart of the Grasslands
Modern civilization has penetrated the far reaches of the grasslands, changing the ancient life style.

52) Purity
White, pure snow and a girl from afar--the original purity of life.

53) Under Golden Autumn Moonlight
Autumn is the golden harvest season. Valiant riders celebrate their bumper harvest with a yak race under the autumn moonlight.

54) Returning at Nightfall
The mountains are faint at nightfall. The woman returns home in the twilight after a day's work along the small path with stone steps.

55) Gust of Wind
A gust of wind howls through the wild plateau. Men both struggle and coexist with nature.

56) Source of Buddhism
In the boundless, desolate land people who dream of entering paradise beg the auspicious bird, streaming holy light, to take their souls to the mystical heavenly kingdom beyond their reach.

57) Creation of the World
Mankind's creation of the world is always accompanied by a life struggle. In the darkness the Buddha's eye observes -- birth and death, the weak and the strong, sadness and happiness of the human world.

58) Polar Dream
Rocks carved with the images of Buddha are endowed with infinitude of time and space. The lofty Tibetan spirit exceeds the universe, where the sun, the moon and the stars co-exist.

59) Glad Tidings of the Tubo Dynasty
Under auspicious clouds the wise king Songzan Gambo was born, bringing unification and prosperity to the snowy land.

60) Harmony
On the pastures of the plateau, animals endowed with meekness by the Universe live in peace with men in the vast space of Nature.


61) Hunting
Herding and hunting were the means of existence to the ancestors of the snowy region. The skill is still being practised now.

62) Braving Wind and Snow
Frigid wind and snow cannot stop the "boats of the snowy region". Packing urgently needed materials to the mountains.

63) Nirvana
Nirvana, the realm without birth, death or transmigration, is the ideal of Buddhism.

64) Returning in Triumph
Welcoming brave fighters returning in triumph with happy songs.

65) King Gesar Subduing the Demon
Heroic King Gesar, good at martial arts and extraordinarily wise, finally subdued the demon after many hardships.

66) Tomorrow's Sun
The Tibetan ancestors, generation after generation, got through their hard life thanks to Buddha's blessing. The new generation is studying science and culture to welcome the splendid sun and the progress of their people.

67) Splendid Ruins
The Guge Dynasty (10-17th century) was a period of splendour and property. Its remnant walls, ruined pagodas and beautiful murals are still very appealing.