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Tibetan Street Art Essay

1376 words - 6 pages


This paper will be examining ways ideas of Tibetan Art are being changed through the use of street art/graffiti. To do so it will give a brief overview of: street art/graffiti, Tibetan Art and Western Religious Art, as much of Tibet Art is religious in nature. Using this information it will address the question of the paper and look at any similarities between the ways Tibetans have adopted street art/graffiti and Western street art/graffiti. It will also examine the reactions of the Chinese Communist authorities not only to Tibetan Art and street art/graffiti but Tibetan culture in general.

Graffiti is unsolicited markings on public or private property, the word ...view middle of the document...

A religious figure is in the middle of the picture. He is sitting with his legs crossed. The physical environment that this figure is associated with surrounds him. And outside that environment are protector deities who do exactly that, watch over the figure. At the top is the personification of nirvana, what ever that may look like. Blue was used, more sparingly, in later works. “The blue pigment was made from a costly imported mineral, lapis lazuli.”[5] Most traditional Tibetan Art is located inside temples, though recently Chinese Museums have begun displaying it and people (mainly tourists) have been able to purchase it.

The earliest Christian Art appeared in the catacombs under Rome, the tombs where early Christians were forced to hide to practice their religion due to persecution. During the Middle Ages most painters were Monks and Nuns, decorating written works of the Gospels, as well as painting the insides of churches. Most surviving paintings are religious. Painting during this period followed a strict set of guidelines. This changed under the Carolingians, and was completely removed during the time the Renaissance swept Europe. Today art is focused on individual interpretations of the world.

Street art/graffiti emerged in China in 1920s when it was used by Communists to fan the flames of Revolution. When they got into power, they cracked down on further street art/graffiti to water down any other flames of revolution. Most of Chinese art from the 1950's to the 1970's dealt with themes from the Communist revolution or from the daily lives of workers and peasants, due to the Communist idea that art should express the aims of (their) society. There is a section in Beijing the 798 Art Zone that ‘tolerates’ street art/graffiti, as long as it meets certain criteria, such as supporting the ruling party. In September 2007, seven 14-15 year olds were arrested in Amchok Bora, TAR for spray painting. “They paid for their candid expressions with hard labor, physical beatings and fines.”[6]

The Chinese say not only have they have saved Tibetan culture and brought all Tibetan people forward towards enlightenment and progress, but they have helped expand Tibetan culture. They use the argument that before they liberated Tibet, 95% of the population were serfs and slaves, and illiteracy was also at similar levels. They use several examples to illustrate their point such as the recent publication of the cultural history of the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe County of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gannan to mark its 300th Anniversary. “The Labrang Monastery…is one of the six leading monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism…and another centre of the Gelug sect”[7]. He Feng, president of Qinghai University for Nationalities points to “Life of King Gesar”, the world’s longest heroic poem as proof. He says that it used to be considered ‘vagrant’ but now enjoys key support from the Central Government and Qinghai University has set up an institution...

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