Search Archive

A part of the THUS mandate is to collect diverse examples of Tibetan sacred, fine, and folk arts, with the hope to ultimately repatriate them to a National Museum in a culturally free Tibet. To this end, the Repatriation Collection was started in 1992. This growing collection is comprised tangkas, bronzes, ritual objects, and folk art. Generous collectors who are deeply concerned about the ultimate disposition of the cultural heritage of the Tibetan people have and continue to thoughtfully give representative examples of the vast and sophisticated repertoire of Tibetan arts. These works were created in Tibet over the last thirteen hundred years.

Since the Chinese communist occupation of Tibet beginning in 1949, the majority of these art works and Buddhist manuscripts were destroyed, particularly during the Cultural Revolution. Surviving art objects have slowly found their way to museums, individual collections and the art market, and an emerging understanding of their aesthetic beauty and symbolic meaning has firmly established the world class quality and distinctive excellence of the Tibetan artistic tradition.

“The aesthetics of Tibetan Buddhist art is based upon revealing the Buddhist understanding of the way things truly are.  Because of this, Tibetan art, expressed primarily by deities and their setting, possess an intensity, a power and a reality that appear more penetrating, more beautiful and greater than ordinary ….Utmost care is taken in the precise depiction of these emanations of wisdom and compassion – they break the veil of “illusion” and offer a complete, instantaneous vision of the radiant beauty and power of pure reality.”

Objects donated to the Repatriation Collection are carefully documented and conserved and selections of the Collection are on display at the cultural center in New York City, and are available for circulation in national and international exhibitions.

We are grateful to all of the generous donors who have supported our efforts to preserve this precious visual asset belonging to Tibet’s cultural heritage.

The Archive was initiated in 1992 with the gift of the photographic collection and journal writings of missionary Marion Grant Griebenow, Sr. A substantial grant from the Henry R. Luce Foundation was awarded to restore the core of the Old Tibet Archive with some 3,000 images from Tibet (1928-1949). The collection includes a vast number of slides and images, many of which have been beautifully hand tinted. The Archive has continued to develop thanks to funding to identify and obtain other photographic collections in private holdings and museums throughout the world; subsequently selected works by photographers Hugh Richardson, Fosco Maraini, David MacDonald, and J.R. Weir has been integrated, making the Archive an even richer resource. Another acquisition consists of an important selection of photographs from the Tokan Tada collection from the Toyo Bunko Library, in Tokyo, Japan, which were taken in Central Tibet, Amdo & Sikkim, ca. 1920’s and a selection of images from the R. Steele Collection.

View Galleries

Repatriation Fine Art & Artifacts