Amazingly Beautiful Monasteries
- Hanging Monastery - Perched precariously halfway up a cliff some 75 meters (246 feet) above the ground, this Monastery is one of the most remarkable sights in China. Consisting of a complex of 40 rooms linked together by mid-air corridors and walkways, it appears to be glued to the side of a sheer precipice. The Monastery was built in the 5th century and has there for 1500 years.
- Yumbulagang - According to legend, Yumbulagang was the first building in Tibet and the palace of the first Tibetan king Nyatri Tsenpo. Its name means “Palace of Mother and Son” in Tibetan. Under the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama, the palace became a monastery of the Gelugpa school.
- Ganden Monastery - One of the ‘great three’ university monasteries of Tibet, located at the top of Wangbur Mountain. The other two are Sera and Drepung Monasteries. In 1959 the monastery was completely destroyed by the Red Guards and the mummified body of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Monastery, was burned. Reconstruction of the Monastery has been continuing since the 1980s.
- Key Gompa - A thousand year old Tibetan Buddhist monastery located on top of a hill in the Spiti Valley. The monastery has been attacked many times during its long history by Mongol and other armies and was also ravaged by fire and earthquakes. The successive trails of destruction have caused the monastery to look like a fort, where temples are built on top of one another.
- Thikse Monastery - A Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Yellow Hat sect. The monastery is located in the Indus valley in India. It is a 12-story complex. One of the main points of interest is the Maitreya Temple which is installed to commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to the Thikse monastery in 1970.
- Taung Kalat - This Buddhist monastery is one of the most breathtaking sites in Burma. To reach the monastery, visitors must climb the 777 steps to the summit. One can see the ancient city of Bagan and the massive solitary conical peak of Mount Popa, the volcano that actually caused the creation.
- Taktsang Dzong - Situated on the edge of a 900 meter (3,000 feet) cliff, the Monastery is an impressive sight, and is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. It is about 2-3 hour, uphill hike from the parking lot to the monastery. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress and Taktsang was consecrated to tame the Tiger demon.
Clever Graphic Art Travel Posters
These simplistic and fun graphic art travel posters, both real and imagined, are the work of a talented artist who goes by the moniker of Jazzberry Blue. He states “I am a self taught, travelling artist currently based in Toronto.” These are just a few of his collection titled “travel.” Other collections of his work include: originals, abstract, surreal, yoga, animals, stairways and landscapes. Even the gif that greats you on his homepage is awesome, complete with sound effects!
Vajra Water Knife
- Date: ca. 15th century
- Culture: Tibet
- Medium: Iron damascened with gold and silver
- Dimensions: H. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); W. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm)
- Classification: Metalwork
- Credit Line: Lent by Anthony d’Offay
- Rights and Reproduction: Photograph © Rossi & Rossi
A wavelike steel blade emitting from a makara (sea monster) and a wave-form hilt earned this blade the title Vajra Water Knife (Tibetan: dorjey chutri).
The makara has an elephant’s trunk and tusks, which are bizarrely paired with the jaws of a crocodile and the flowing mane of a lioness. The traditional Indian makara of antiquity has an aquatic tail, which here, filtered through the Tibetan imagination, has become a great foaming wave.
A variant of the traditional flaying knife (Tibetan: triguk), this blade is a masterpiece of gold and silver workmanship. The contrasting metals damascened into the iron surface create a ritual utensil of threatening beauty.
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Wall of Sutras, Stupas, and the Oldest Printed Book in the World
A Sutra is a type of literary composition in Buddhism. Sutras are outlined according to Five-fold Profound Meanings: Explaining the Name, Describing the Substance, Clarifying the Principle, Discussing the Function, and Determining the Teaching Mark. The Five-fold Meanings are called “five-fold” because they unfold, layer after layer. The golden scroll, pictured above, is the frontpiece of the earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, dated 868 AD.
The Wall of Sutras is an ongoing project of carving Buddhist sutras into rocks, and stacking them into a wall. This is a custom that started in Tibet a long time ago. Making copies of any Buddhist text or mantra, or Buddha’s speech, is said to be a very virtuous act that creates merit and also blessings. Carving into stone has a special quality of being stable, lasting, and deep. The Sutras are all carved into the rocks by hand, then stacked one by one into the wall, which is located right next to the 108 Stupas.
Stupas are mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship.
Tibetan art carved into human skull.