Empires of Faith

Installing ‘Imagining the Divine’ #8: 12th October

Jaś Elsner and Stefanie Lenk are blogging from behind the scenes during the installation of the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions, opening on October 19th. 

Jaś Elsner, 12/10/17, installation day 9

Tucking in the Tangka

We are putting up the last object in the introductory section of the show – a beautiful 15th-century tangka made in Tibet and on long-term loan from the Bodleian Library (did someone once think it was a book?!) to the Ashmolean Museum. These things are fragile – painted in tempera on silk, made to be rolled and transported, then hung in temples or temporary shrines. This one shows the seated Buddha touching the ground and holding a begging bowl, surrounded by Tantric deities and Buddhist sages. A splash of colour.

They hang it carefully, carefully examining whether there is a risk of the object’s weight tearing the 550-year-old cloth. The team decide we need to support the wooden pole of the bottom. Then the thing can rest snug for the course of the show. They lift the object gently and put in the supports.

All that is needed now is putting on the frame and screwing it in… A great piece hanging next to a Greek icon of about the same date.