Prayer Beads, China, Qing dynasty, 18th century peach pit and pink coral, Rubin Museum of Art, 2013.
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Created from precious and semi-precious stones, ivory, wood, seeds, and bone, the prayer beads explored in the Rubin Museum of Art exhibition “Count Your Blessings: The Art of Prayer Beads in Asia,” exemplify the aesthetic and material diversity and devotional importance of these objects from across Buddhist Asia. On view through 24 March, 2014, with nearly 80 featured sets of prayer beads -predominately from private collection, from Bhutan, Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan, and Burma.
The exhibition delves into the histories and varied uses of prayer beads, emphasizing how their arrangement, complexity, materiality, and visual attributes reference their symbolic meaning, practical use, or status. The show addresses the importance of the structure and number of beads in a set to their function in religious practice. And includes a few select examples of prayer beads from the Christian, Islamic, and Hindu traditions to help orient audiences and provide parallels with more familiar objects of similar purpose, such as rosaries. Count Your Blessings provides us with an opportunity to explore shared cultural approaches to the use of prayer beads in personal devotional practices, chanting, recitation of mantras, and of signs of status, and to highlight their enduring significance from centuries ago to present.
Create your own strand of sacred prayer beads in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of Geshe Lobsang Ngodup and bead experts from Chelsea neighbors Beads of Paradise NYC. Participants will learn the symbolism and proper use of their own strand of 108 beads and will have the opportunity to have their new mala blessed by Lama Ngodup.
Wednesday August 7th, 2013 @ 7:00 PM Includes a gallery pre-tour of Count Your Blessings at 6:15 p.m.
Rubin Museum of Art is recognized as the premier museum of Himalayan art in the Western world. The museum seeks to present and preserve a collection that reflects the vitality, complexity, and historical significance of Himalayan art, and to further both the popular appreciation of and scholarly commitment to it. The museum’s collection of more than 2,000 works of art includes some of the finest examples of Himalayan paintings, sculptures, textiles, ritual objects, and prints spanning the 2nd to the 20th century.
Geshe Lobsang Ngodup received his Master’s Degree in Buddhist Studies from the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (a private monastery of HH the Dalai Lama) in Dharamsala, India, and received his Geshe Degree (a PhD in Buddhist Philosophy) from Sera Jey Monastic University, Bylakuppe, India. He is also a graduate of Yeshiva University, New York, where he received a Master of Social Work. He has been teaching Buddhism and meditation since 1989 in the United States and India. He has worked with a number of social services in New York over the past seventeen years. He is currently the Director of Sera Jey Buddhist Culture Center in New York.
Beads of Paradise NYC, founded in the 1980s in the East Village as a purveyor of African beads, has been bringing art and antiquities from all over the world to New York City for three decades. Now located in the historic Flatiron district, their diverse selection now includes South and South East Asian Art as well as vintage beads and ethnographic jewelry from multiple continents, prayer beads and Buddhist and Hindu religious artifacts, as well as their own line of contemporary semiprecious-stone jewelry and repair services.