The Journey

Samye Monastery

  • 33
  • Tibet
  • 19th century
  • Pigment and gold on cloth
  • H. 20 1/2 x W. 15 1/4 in. (51.4 x 38.7 cm)
  • Newark Museum, Albert L. Shelton Collection, Purchase 1920, 20.271A–C
  • Samye Monastery
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The Samye monastery complex in central Tibet was founded in 799 by King Trisong Detsen and the great teacher Padmasambhava, and is Tibet's oldest Buddhist teaching monastery. As seen in this painting, Samye's distinctive architecture—the unusual shapes of the buildings and their positions relative to each other—compose a mandala, a diagram of sacred space. More specifically, Samye mirrors a Mount Meru mandala of the center of the world and surrounding continents. Pilgrims visiting Samye walk through a microcosm of the greater universe, circumambulating the "sun" and "moon" and "continents" in temple form.

PHOTO CREDIT: Richard Goodbody, Newark Museum


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