Traditional Painters from Tibet and India Work to Transform New Temple

June 24, 2008

Author: Ron Seely

Source: The Buddhist Channel/Wisconsin State Journal,6688,0,0,1,0

Though they seem not much different from the other workers who are finishing the new temple at the Deer Park Buddhist Center, the three men working in the quiet of the temple’s basement have traveled from halfway around the world to lend their unique skills to the completion of this special place.

They are artists from Tibet and India, painters trained in the traditions of Buddhist artwork with its brilliant colors, charismatic deities and layered meanings.

The painters have lived on the grounds of the temple for months, devoting long days to their work and transforming the imposing temple into a showplace of Tibetan artistry.

Their hours have stretched into the evenings during these recent weeks as they race to finish before a much-anticipated visit of the Dalai Lama in July.

The Dalai Lama will visit Madison on July 19-24. He is scheduled to conduct a series of teachings as well as give a public lecture, set for July 19 at the Dane County Coliseum. But for the Deer Park Buddhist community, perhaps the most significant moment of the visit will be when the Dalai Lama conducts a special ceremony to dedicate the new temple.

This will be the Dalai Lama’s second visit to the temple, construction of which has been overseen by an old friend, Geshe Lhundub Sopa, director and abbot of Deer Park since its founding in 1979. The first visit was last year and, though the structure was complete, the temple was bare of the brilliant ornamentation, carvings and paintings that now bring it alive.

A good part of that artwork has been created in the intervening months by the three visiting artisans — Tenzin Choephel from Lhasa, Tibet; Tashi Dorjee from Dharamsala, India; and Lodoe Choedar, a Buddhist monk from Tsang, Tibet. All have been trained since their youth in traditional painting techniques.