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Himalayas and Central Asia

The Oriental Museum’s Himalayan and Central Asian collections are dominated by the Tibetan collection, which in its turn is heavily focussed on Buddhist religious material. Buddhism was introduced into the area in the 7th or 8th Century CE, from where it spread into Mongolia and other central Asian areas.

The Oriental Museum’s collection includes an outstanding collection of thangkas. These painted or embroidered hangings are used in both temples and domestic settings as a teaching tool, source of visual and mental inspiration, particularly for meditation, and also in ritual contexts. The collection also includes other ritual implements, weapons, seals, furniture, musical instruments, prayer wheels, talismans in various materials, textiles, cloisonné, reliquaries, ritual and domestic vessels in various materials, and woodblock prints.

Complementing this is an important collection of Gandharan sculpture reflecting the meeting of South Asian philosophy and religion with Hellenistic artistic traditions along the Silk Route in the early centuries of the Common Era.

Other material from this region in the collections includes metal work and weapons from Afghanistan, Buddhist material from Nepal and jewellery from Bhutan.

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