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The Literature of Tibet


Twelve flags embossed with Tibetan text on the lawn in front of Neilson Library represent part of Tibetan Literary Arts, an exhibition that opened on May 9 in conjunction with the campus visit of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

The exhibition aims to introduce Tibetan literature to the Smith community, with an emphasis on early poetry. It is displayed in three other locations in addition to the Nielson Lawn: the Morgan Gallery inside the entrance to Neilson Library; the Mair Reference Room; and the Hillyer Art Library.

Tibetan Literary Arts was curated by Marit Cranmer, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Rhode Island.

“This exhibition is a modest attempt to introduce a few of the treasures within the vast and extraordinary field of Tibetan literature,” said Cranmer in the exhibition catalog. “Tibet’s written tradition has a rich history full of complexity that is only recently becoming know in the West. And its poetry, valuing as it does wisdom and intrinsic awareness, stands with the great world poetry of the human spirit.”

The 12 flags on Neilson Lawn are positioned inside two eternity knows, one of the eight auspicious Tibetan religious symbols, Cranmer explains, and accompanied by a Tibetan blessing carved in stone for the occasion by a member of the local Tibetan community.

Tibetan Literary Arts consists of about 80 objects on display spanning hundreds of years, including excerpts and poems from 300 B.C. to those written in the 19th century. A free exhibition guide will be available in Neilson and Hillyer libraries. The exhibition catalog will be available for sale in the library administrative offices.


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