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The Tree of physiology is a Tibetan Thangka depicting human physiology and certain pathological transformations.



Tibetan medicine had developed a rather sophisticated knowledge of anatomy and physiology, which was acquired from their long-standing experience with human dissection. Tibetans out of necessity, had long ago adopted the practice of celestial burial (also Sky burial) because of Tibet's harsh terrain in most of the year and deficit of wood for cremation. This form of Sky burial, still practiced, begins with a ritual dissection of the deceased, and then followed by the feeding of the parts to Vultures on the hill tops. Both the location of the ritual dissection and the place of feeding is understood as the charnel ground. Over time, anatomical knowledge found its way into Ayurveda[1] and to a Iesser extent into China. As result, Tibet has become a home of the Buddhist medical centers Chogppori and Menchikhang (or Menhang),[2][3] between the twelfth to sixteenth century A.D., where monks came to study even from foreign countries.

Fisher donation

Emily Fisher, a trustee at The American Museum of Natural History, donated modern copies of a series of seventy-nine Tibetan Buddhist tangkas (religious paintings) that were commissioned in 1687 by the fifth Dalai Lama's regent, Sangye Gyamtso (1653-1705).[4] He had the paintings done to elucidate his commentary on the "Four Tantras" (Tib. Gyushi)[5] - eighth-century Tantric Buddhist texts that form the foundation of Tibetan medicine and cover physiology, pathology, diagnosis, and cure. With such depictions, the Tantric Buddhist system of healing[6] could, according to Sangye Gyamtso, be "perceived by everybody, from the scholar to the child, as dearly as one would see a myrobalan[7][8] (the foremost healing plant in the Tibetan tradition) held in the palm of one's hand."

Art history

The original set of these thangkas, which was kept in Lhasa, was destroyed by the Chinese military in 1959, but these recent copies, based on three surviving sets, was painted over the course of seven years by Nepalese atelier Romio Shrestha,[9] who followed religious and artistic conventions in copying the seventeenth-century originals. Shrestha's paintings on cloth, which are filled with astonishing renditions of a variety of physical conditions and illnesses, have been digitally photographed and incorporated into the Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology's image database.

Artist novo

Romio Shrestha is a master in the artistic traditions of Nepal and Tibet. He directs a school of artist-craftsmen in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, painting in the Newari style. Shresta's work is represented in The British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and Tibet House in New York City. His first book of paintings is entitled The Tibetan Art of Healing. Shresta lives in Kathmandu and in County Kerry, Ireland with his wive Sophie Shrestha and four daughters.[10] According to Romio Shrestha The Medicine Buddha is our complete spiritual apothecary. To discover the healing force within our being is to enter the paradise of the master of remedies. In other words this paradise lies within our own selves, only a conditioning of the mind is required to identify it and partake of its pleasures. Romio Shrestha further says: Our body has the capacity to cure itself of any ailment. Every plant, every herb, every remedy has its counterpart within the subtle essences of the human body.


  1. ^ The Roots of Ayurveda (Penguin Classics) by Various and Dominik Wujastyk (2003)
  2. ^ His Holiness the Dalai Lama: The Oral Biography by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober (2005) p.14
  3. ^ Tao & Dharma: Chinese Medicine & Ayurveda by Robert Svoboda and Arnie Lade (1995) p.89
  4. ^ Tibetan Medical Paintings: Illustrations to the Blue Beryl Treatise of Sangye Gyamtso (1653-1705 : Plates and Text) by Gyurme Dorje, Yuri Parfionovitch, and Fernand Meyer (1992)
  5. ^ The Quintessence Tantras of Tibetan Medicine by Barry Clark (1995)
  6. ^ Tibetan Book of Healing by Lobsang Rapgay (2005)
  7. ^ Eating And Healing: Traditional Food As Medicine (Crop Science) (Crop Science) by Andrea Pieroni and Lisa Leimer Price (2006) pp.346-7
  8. ^ Tao & Dharma: Chinese Medicine & Ayurveda by Robert Svoboda and Arnie Lade (1995) p.90
  9. ^ The Tibetan Art of Healing by lan Baker, Dalai Lama, Romio Shrestha, and Deepak Chopra (1997)
  10. ^ In Search of the Thunder Dragon by Sophie Shrestha and Romio Shrestha (2007)

See also



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