Tibetan Monks Return to Telfair Museum




Popular art event includes creation of exquisite sand painting exhibition, sacred music and chants, meditation lecture and more

Savannah GA…The Tibetan Buddhist monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery return to the Jepson Center September 13-18 to create an exquisite sand mandala painting as part of a weeklong residency. Programs related to the monks’ residency include a variety of activities for all ages. Their previous visits to Savannah attracted hundreds of interested onlookers and participants.

The monks undertake a spiritual art form which involves painstakingly placing millions of grains of sands on a flat platform over the course of the week. With a 25-year history of tours as part of the Mystical Arts of Tibet productions, the monks have created mandala sand paintings in hundreds of museums, art centers and colleges and universities in the United States and Europe.

“We are incredibly honored to again have the Tibetan Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery visit here and share their uplifting and unique art and music,” said Lisa Grove, Director and CEO of Telfair Museums Grove, “The community has truly embraced their ancient art and ritual; so much so their tour is viewed as one of Savannah’s most popular arts events.”

On Tuesday, September 13, the mandala sand painting begins with an opening ceremony, during which the lamas consecrate the site through chanting, music and mantra recitation, and draw the outline of the mandala. On the following days, they will lay down the colored sands, this year creating the Akshobya Mandala, also known as the “Unshakable Victor” for conflict resolution and peace.

Visitors may watch the monks at work during normal museum hours in the Jepson Center Atrium Wednesday through Saturday. On Sunday, September 18th,the mandala will be destroyed as a metaphor for the impermanence of life. The sands are placed in an urn, with half distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony. The remainder will be carried to the Savannah River and dispersed to the ocean for planetary healing.

Funding for this program is provided by the City of Savannah’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Full Schedule:

Tuesday, September 13, 5-7 p.m. Opening ceremony: the monks begin with a ceremony and chants, after which they draw the mandala. Admission is free.

September 14-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mandala sand painting: visitors may watch the monks create the mandala sand painting in the museum atrium during normal daytime museum hours, other than lunchtime. Admission is free.

Thursday, September 15, 6 p.m. Lecture: “Meditation: A Tool for Conscious Living” by the Tibetan Monks of Drepung Loseling

For the first time at the Jepson Center, the monks will present a lecture on meditation as an important technique for quieting the mind and establishing an inner basis of clarity and well-being. Meditation is designed to relax and better understand the processes that make up people’s lives. The monks will discuss meditative techniques aimed at strengthening important inner qualities and eliminating inner negativities and habitual patterns. Admission is free.

Saturday, September 17, 1-4 p.m. Free Family Day: Hands on activities include community sand painting sessions at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in which children may participate in the creation of a sand painting using the tools of the monks. Admission is free.

Sunday, September 18, 2-3 p.m. Closing ceremony: Chants, destruction of the mandala and procession to the river. In a moving closing event with polyphonic chants and music, the monks ritually destroy the mandala. Afterward, sand is distributed to the audience. At 3p.m. the public is invited to join the monks for a procession to the Savannah River to release the mandala to the ocean to spread healing throughout the world. Admission for members is free; non-members pay $5.