A month-long special exhibition on the culture, religion, life and political system of Tibetans living in exile was inaugurated in Taipei yesterday. The exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the flight of the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of his followers into exile in India.
“In 1959, more than 80,000 Tibetan farmers and cattle drivers — most with no knowledge of living outside Tibet or in a modernized place — fled into exile in India with the Dalai Lama to escape the Chinese occupation,” Dawa Tsering, chairman of the Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, told a news conference.
The foundation is the organizer of the exhibition at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall in Taipei.
After moving from one of the coldest places in the world to one of the hottest, the Tibetans had to not only quickly adapt to their new environment, but also had to start a new life from nothing, Dawa said.
Although some people had been farmers all their lives, “they had to learn about new crops and plants they had never seen before,” he said.
“Through more than 400 photographs and more than 20 documentaries — most being shown for the first time in Taiwan — we will present to visitors how Tibetan culture and religion are preserved in exile, how they live their life in exile and how Tibetan history is seen through a Tibetan perspective,” Dawa said.
Besides pictures, visitors can also see many rare objects, such as coins, banknotes and stamps issued by the Tibetan government before the Chinese occupation, as well as traditional Tibetan handicrafts, such as thangka paintings and a display of sand mandalas.
The sand mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of a mandala made from colored sand. A sand mandala is destroyed once it has been completed in a ceremony that symbolizes the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life.
The exhibition will be open until July 30, and more information can be found on the Internet at www.tibet.org.tw/50.