The Helinä Rautavaara Museum shows thangka paintings by contemporary Tibetan artist and monk Geshe Mönlam Wangyal. The paintings portray the great masters and teachings of the ancient Bön tradition, a pre-Buddhist spiritual and cultural tradition of Tibet and the Himalayan borderlands. Almost half of the 80 paintings in the exhibition are being shown publicly for the first time. Also on display are objects from Tibet which are part of the Helinä Rautavaaara Museum collection.
The details and symbolism of the paintings portraying the world of historical masters, the so-called Mahasiddhas, convey to the viewer the key teachings of the Bön tradition. The series of paintings also contains rare works portraying female masters. The word thangka has two meanings: ‘scroll’ and ‘recorded knowledge’, which describes the form and meaning of the paintings well.
Geshe Mönlam Wangyal is a seventh-generation thangka painter. The skills and techniques of the tradition as well as the manufacture and use of traditional colours are passed on from generation to generation over years of study.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a mandala painting course will be taught by Geshe Mönlam and his assistant. The course gives an introduction to thangka painting techniques, the use of traditional organic and mineral pigments, and on how to interpret the symbolic imagery.
The exhibition is realised by a working group. The group leader and producer is Professor Anne Brunila, while the exhibition was curated by Mika Hannula.