Exhibition: Of the 34 registered Tashi Gomangs in the country, 29 are showcased at the Royal Textile Academy (RTA) in an exhibition titled ‘Tashi Gomang: A National Treasure of Bhutan’. that opened on November 5.
Under the royal patronage of Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, Dr Thierry Mathou and Tshering Tashi formed the Tashi Gomang Project to record, conserve and revive the Tashi Gomang and its Lam Manip tradition to ensure its continuity.
Through the project, the 29 Tashi Gomangs were conserved and restored by the Central Monastic Body, Department of Culture, Thangka Restoration and Conservation Centre and the skilled Bhutanese craftsmen of Department of National Properties for six months before they were returned to their respective places.
According to a press release from RTA, Tashi Gomang literally means stupa of auspicious multi-door. In the Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist tradition, a Tashi Gomang is the third of the eight stupas that represents the eight important events in the life of Lord Buddha.
“The third stupa of turning the wheel of dharma is also known as Tashi Gomang stupa or stupa of many doorways, the steps are adorned with many doorways symbolising the opening of the doors of the dharma. This stupa commemorates Lord Buddha’s first teaching at the Deer Park in Sarnath, India,” the press release stated.
Although there are no written records of the Tashi Gomang and the tradition of Lam Manips, who accompany the sacred Tashi Gomang singing spiritual devotion and realisation to their listeners, there are several oral stories relating to the origin and tradition of the Tashi Gomang.
“Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother was deeply concerned that this unique 379-year-old tradition, now on the verge of extinction, if lost, would be an immense loss, not only for the Kingdom’s rich intangible cultural and spiritual heritage but for the future generations of Bhutanese as well,” the press release stated.
Two surviving Lam Manips, Manip Kunzang Tenzing, 72, and Manip Kinley, 84, were present during the exhibition.
Manip Kunzang Tenzing from Trongsa said efforts and initiatives such as these are crucial to preserve this age-old tradition.
“I’m thankful to Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother for undertaking such measures to preserve and revive the Tashi Gomang, which are on the verge of disappearance. We are fortunate and people should now understand the significance and importance of such tradition,” Manip Kunzang Tenzing said.
During the exhibition, the Tashi Gomang built by Zow Balip and blessed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and placed in the utse or the main tower of the Punakha dzong is the main attraction of the exhibition.
RTA in collaboration with the Tashi Gomang Project, Central Monastic Body, Department of Culture and the Thangka Restoration and Conservation Centre is organising the exhibition.
Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, members of the Royal Family, senior government officials, members of the Central Monastic Body and guests were present during the opening of the exhibition. Tsugla Lopen Samten Dorji inaugurated the exhibition.
The exhibition will be open for three months.