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Being Human in a Buddhist WorldAn Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet$
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Janet Gyatso

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164962

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164962.001.0001

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Reading Paintings, Painting the Medical, Medicalizing the State

Reading Paintings, Painting the Medical, Medicalizing the State

(p.23) 1 Reading Paintings, Painting the Medical, Medicalizing the State
Being Human in a Buddhist World

Janet Gyatso

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines a set of seventy-nine medical paintings the creation of which was directed by Desi Sangyé Gyatso, the regent of the Fifth Dalai Lama. A copy of the painting set made under the auspices of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama in the early twentieth century reliably mirrors the artistic and representational styles with which the paintings were executed, and serves well as a basis for cultural and historical reflections. The chapter considers how Desi's medical paintings depict everyday life in Tibet as well as anatomy, religion, material medica and the practice of medicine; how they decenter Buddhist imagery; and how that all conveys broad cultural messages about the reach of the state. It also explores how Buddhist and other religious figures are portrayed in the paintings.

Keywords:   medical paintings, Desi Sangyé Gyatso, everyday life, Tibet, anatomy, religion, material medica, medicine, imagery, Buddhism

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