Bodies in Balance and Biographies of Objects: The Art of Tibetan Medicine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


This essay is the edited and printed version of the keynote lecture I delivered on the occasion of the opening of the 'Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine' exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (15 March – 8 September 2014). This innovative exhibition explored the origins, history and practice of Tibetan medicine through its manifold representations in medical paintings, books, manuscripts, medicines and medical instruments dating from the 9th century to the present day, with a particular emphasis on the triangular relationship of medicine, Buddhism and the visual arts. It was presented in ten sections spread over two floors, covering the topics of the Medicine Buddha, the Four Tantras, the Medicine Protectors, Transmission, Foundations of Tibetan medicine, Diagnosis, Treatment, Pharmacology, External Therapies, and Medicine and Astrology. The objects and exhibition texts were complemented by an academic publication, a comprehensive events programme and a multi-media installation, which continues to be accessible online and that takes visitors on a virtual tour to 17 locations around the globe where Tibetan medicine is practiced today. While I worked as the exhibition curator (with the assistance of Elena Pakhoutova) and as editor of the Bodies in Balance publication I had the privilege to be based at the University of Oslo. Here I first met Per Kvaerne and benefitted from his wide-ranging knowledge and expertise in all things Tibetan and enjoyed his instantly forthcoming support and interest in the 'Bodies in Balance' project. During my time here I have also benefitted from the Tibetan studies programme and its many activities, ranging from a seminar series to the fruitful exchanges with Tibetan students and researchers who come to Norway thanks to the Norway- Tibet Network of University Collaboration. These are all initiatives that Per had helped establish in the first place and that have contributed to Oslo being such a wonderful place for the study of Tibet. With thanks and heartfelt respect.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Bhakti to Bon – Festschrift for Per Kvaerne
EditorsHanna Havnevik, Charles Ramble
Place of PublicationOslo
PublisherNovus Forlag
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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