Where the Dalai Lama resides, Tibet is obviously a very religious and holy land. As such, their buddhist artwork has always been in association with their faith, beliefs and rituals—from rock art and rugs to dolls and jewelry. Even the best of Tibetan architecture is best seen through their magnificent temples.
Tibetan rock art dates as far back as 3000 years ago and serves as the main historical documentation of ancient Tibet. Rock art—carvings or paints on stone surfaces—portrayed their way of life pre-Buddhism. Most of them show Tibetans hunting for food of such elaboration that even in these silhouette figures, one could effectively point out that the hunters were mounted on beasts, poising their arrows on the target (usually identified as yaks).
The earliest depiction of Buddhism showed a man resembling a mahasiddha (yogi) painted with ochre dye.
Rugs are a Tibetan specialty, traced as far as a thousand years ago. By then rugs weren't considered a serious art form until foreigners came across a house decked fully in these colorful sheets in the early 1900s. They were astonished at the exquisite works and exclaimed them to be "very beautiful."
After a few decades, the rug industry went under serious decline only to rise back up in the ‘70s. Now this seemingly simple task is considered a huge part of the Tibetan culture.
The rugs are made from sheep's wood called "changpel." Tibetan rugs are strictly, well, Tibetan, with an unusual process representing the uniqueness of these people. The Tibetans weave the rugs in a peculiar way, by hand with a complicated twist. Technology has altered the form a little but the intricacy remains.
These rugs are normally very colorful with intricate embroidery inspired by Chinese patterns. They're used for flooring, as makeshift curtains, and as sleeping bags.
The Tibetans were quite crafty with bronze, copper, tin and iron. Statues of their deities were meticulously molded from metal and stone. Mohras, handy representations of Lord Shiva, were (and are) very popular with Tibetans. These metal works are used during Tibetan festivals in reverence to the deities.
Temples exemplified Tibetan architecture and proved their command of metal and aesthetic. Most of these fantastic constructions are in the holy place of Himachal where the Lakshmi Narayan, Baijnath and Masrur Temples.
These sacred sanctuaries are so strongly influenced by the Buddhist tradition that Tibet may be the only country where religious paintings wallpaper the interior.
Tibetan jewelry is an extension of their mastery of metal. Large and round, made of beads and gold and silver, their jewelry repertoire ranges from necklaces, bracelets, anklets, hair décor and rings. In these items they carry portable "holy vestments." Amulets are a common Tibetan accessory to ward off evil and to bring forth the good spirit. Pendants are also deity-inspired and adorned with turquoise, corals and pearls.