The Golden Valley – The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet

The Golden Valley – The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet

The book is a chronicle of the geopolitical history and the art of the Golden Valley. Tracing the tumultuous history of the valley from the 7th century to the present day, a history sometimes triumphant but often atrociously tragic, provides the backdrop for the many influences on the evolution of its art, whether from enlightened Buddhist teachers or murderous invading armies.

Richly photographed, the book not only features the art itself – from exquisite centuries-old wall hangings to ingeniously designed furniture, all produced by dedicated monks – but also explains in unprecedented detail the symbolism and philosophy incorporated into these pieces, their stunning decorations serving a dual purpose as teaching devices.

The book introduces the reader to daily life at the monasteries. It delves into the everyday routines of the monks and nearby villagers, and the continued practice, even under today’s repressive conditions, of such ancient and profound rituals as the chanting of special mantras, sutras and pujas. These and other rites are explained in great detail, right down to the deep significance of the simple act of spinning a prayer wheel.

It also contains a chapter on Tibetan Buddhist symbols that goes into the genesis of the symbols and how they have changed over the centuries. One example is the section on the Eight Auspicious symbols, where we proved the originating translated scripture text: in that one sees that there are nine symbols listed, yet the text states there are eight symbols. We delve into the different aspects of the symbols and their mutations over the centuries. It is concisely written and includes several symbols not listed in any other source, including Robert Beer’s Encyclopedia of Tibetan Buddhist symbols. It is also the only book I have seen where the illustrations are in color and are from the actual art of Tibet, and not a recent artist’s line drawing.

Taken together, the art showcased in this book is meant to guide the reader into the culture, mind and faith of the artists and their communities, and tell their previously untold story.