Friday, May 8, 2009

More Vintage Books & Sacred Arts of Bhutan

The Asian Art Museum is right next to the SF main library. So when we were on our way to the Bhutanese exhibit on Wednesday, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the library's annual book sale. Everything was a $1, so I scooped up 10-12 vintage books and lugged them to the coat check at the museum.

Here are a few pages from the first book I picked up, Master Guide to Physical Perfection.

Caption reads: "A Back Exercise and Test of Strength. This picture is introduced to show what power can be built in a man of seventy-one by eating natural foods daily and systematically exercising. The author can support 180 lbs. on his abdomen with his head on one chair, heels on another. Try it!"

Here plow is called an abdominal exercise.

"Lie on the back with the arms stretched beside the body. Throw the legs over the head till the toes touch the bed, at the same time holding arms firmly to bed. Repeat this five to fifteen times."

Look at her outfit. Copyright, 1929:

The Bhutanese exhibit was fantastic on so many different levels. This is the first time these sacred arts have left Bhutan. The curator lived in Bhutan for three years to trek up the stairs of many monasteries to inventory Bhutan's arts. The agreement was to allow these arts to leave the country in exchange for help conserving the arts in decay. These arts are not meant for visual pleasure. They are aids to enlightenment. Part of the reason the government agreed to share their arts is that they believe that just by viewing these sacred items you will receive blessings. They thought only good could come from sharing their blessings with the world.

Did I feel the blessings? I felt my feet throughout this exhibit. Whenever I can so deeply inhabit my body, I count that as a blessing.

The exhibit traveled to Honolulu first, New York second, and is now in San Francisco through Sunday, May 10. After that it will travel to Paris and a few other European cities and then return to Bhutan.

Bhutan is a fascinating place. Here's a 10-15 minute film about Bhutan, Lost in Democracy. Jeff and I saw this film Current TV several months ago. It's well worth viewing.

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