An antique Tibetan medical text and accompanying works of art, which went on display at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University on Saturday, May 9, were almost blocked from being sent here by Buddhist clergy in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the traditionally Buddhist region of Buryatia in Russia.
The intervention of a cadre of Moscow attorneys and an export classification of the medical text as scientific instead of as a work of art enabled the objects to be sent to the U.S. last week, Mary Daley, a spokesperson for the Pleasantville, N.Y.-based Pro-Cultural Inc. told GlobalFax in a telephone interview.
Pro-Cultural Inc. is a non-profit organization established by Anna Sousa to create greater awareness of endangered cultures. Ms. Sousa is the former director of Tibet House, which was opened in New York City with the support of the actor Richard Gere and Robert Thurman, the chairman of Columbia University’s department of religion.
Ms. Sousa signed a contract with Buryatia authorities several months ago allowing the text and paintings to be displayed in Atlanta and five other cities in the U.S. When the text and paintings were to be moved from a Buddhist temple in Buryatia, Buddhist clergy tried to block their departure because they feared that the works would never be returned.
The book, known as The Blue Beryl or the Atlas of Tibetan Medicine, are 19th century copies of a 17th century volume destroyed in 1959 following China’s takeover of Tibet.
Buryatia is the center of Buddhism in Russia and borders on Mongolia in southern Siberia. About one-fourth of its population are Buddhists and official representatives of the Tibetan Dalai-Lama are located in Ulan-Ude.
According to Ms. Daley, additional security arrangements were made with the assistance of the Moscow attorneys and the works were released for export.
The exhibit entitled Buddhist Art of Healing: Tibetan Medical Paintings from Buryatia, will be on view at the Michael C. Carlos Museum until July 12.
For more information, call Joy Bell, the museum’s publicity coordinator, at (404) 727-4291.