Wednesday 7 December 2011

Creating the Mani mantra

The Mani mantra is featured in this five minute video, that demonstrates the calligraphic order in a brushed Uchen script, Tashi also gives a short explanation of the purifying nature of each of the six syllables:

oṃ ma ṇi pad me hūṃ 

Created on 5th December 2011
Chinese ink on block water-colour paper 46x61 cm.
© Tashi Mannox

Friday 2 December 2011


A detail of the "Beautiful Bodhicitta"

A person who has Bodhicitta (awakened mind) aspires to become enlightened for the benefit all beings, for their ultimate happiness and liberation. When a person reaches that level of unconditional love, compassion and understanding, he or she can then be called a Bodhisattva.

"Beautiful Bodhicitta"  2009.
 © Tashi Mannox 

Calligraphy in Chinese ink, Japanese mineral paint, on a wash of pure saffron depicting a landscape of the sun and clouds over mountains and foot-hills, river and the sea.
The Tibetan Drutsa script translates.....

“As a river to the sea, 
as the sea to the clouds,
as clouds to the land,
So does Bodhicitta beautify this world.”

A praise of Bodhicitta from “This Jewel Lamp” composed by Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen in Varanasi, India.

"Bodhicitta" in the ancient Wartu Sanskrit.
 © Tashi Mannox 2011

Sunday 27 November 2011

rest unshakably.....

"Rest Unshakably" Chinese ink and silver leaf on mount board.
50x51 cm Tashi Mannox 2008.

The translation for swastika in Tibetan is "unchanging well-being" or "rest unshakably" a popular emblem in Tibetan iconography used to mark stability as well as a symbol of good luck.

An art piece previously not published as part of Tashi's Black on Black series, This particular piece is created using the words yungdrung གཡུང་དྲུང་ repeated four times to arrange as a mandala of unchanging well-being. These Tibetan letters gilded in silver leaf to give an etched effect standing proud on the blackened textured board, as the below image details demonstrate.

Detail showing the artists seals and date.
In the bottom right corner accompanying two of the artists personal seals are the words "the mandala of unchanging well-being" ༄། གཡུང་དྲུང་འཁྱིལ་བ། that is only caught in certain light or angle that painting is viewed.
The artists signature appears untypical and lavish across the bottom width of the canvas size, painted in a free brushed expression that is actually a remanent from an earlier discarded art piece, re-used to an attractive effect and multi layering and texture to the over-all piece. Other words that translate as "the great gesture" "Mahamudra" are hidden and pushed to the background by the illuminated silver lettering.

During the 17 years of being a monk, Tashi Mannox spent four in a cloistered retreat, The photo below was taken in 1988 at the begining of the retreat, that shows Tashi seated in his 'meditation box'. This limited  space of about a meter square doubled as his bed, as it is required to sleep up-right to maximize time spent in meditation during the retreat. Chalked below the box was a swastika as protection and a symbol of stability and well-being. As Tashi commented "though it took some months of getting used to, the meditation box became a place to 'rest unshakably' with only one's mind as a distraction".

To read more about the symbology and relevance of the swastika, there is an earlier post on the subject here.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Tibetan Graphic Design

A design on the word 'phur in the Tibetan Uchen script,
That translates as 'rub' or  'to fly'. 

Native Chinese and London educated 顾翔 Xiang Gu is a photographer and Graphic designer, that has the rare ability to join technology and design of east and west. His talent is clearly demonstrated in his fresh and innovative creations.

The above Graphic design by Xiang Gu is based on the word འཕུར་ 'phur in the Tibetan Uchen script. This is a word that has a number of meanings, such as 'rub' and 'scratch', but by the Art Deco appearance of the lettering, it seems that Xiang Gu has focused on the translation of phur as 'to fly'.

Below is another of his creations that shows the Tibetan alphabet in a neon like 'Tron' style font, though the letter design does not always follow the logical rules of the Uchen script, it is never-the-less a curious and modern take on the Tibetan alphabet.  

More of Xiang Gu's work can be seen on his slick website and blog.

Tron has become a font style for the classic electronic game; based on the 1982 Tron Disney film about a programmer who gets stuck into his computer and it's electronic world.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Bamboo pen

Tibetan artist strives to sustain traditional calligraphy
LHASA, TIBET, Nov 1st 2011 Xinhua Chinese news paper reports -- 
Kalnor is among the few people who still practise traditional Tibetan calligraphy with a bamboo stick on a wooden board.
The 50-cm long, 25-cm wide birch board, known as "jangshing" in Tibetan, was an essential stationery item for Kalnor and his peers when they first learned to write.
"We had to practise on the jangshing for at least two years before we could write on paper," said Kalnor, 31.
The jangshings for beginners were often marked with four lines, and the number of lines was reduced as the students' writing improved, until only one line was left to mark the location of the text.
According to Kalnor, the ancient writing material was economical and green, as old jangshings could be used anew after being washed in the river and dried again.
Image showing the traditional birch wood board called a jangshing.
As a child, Kalnor used bamboo sticks for a pen. The makeshift ink almost always came from the kitchen -- charred barley or soya sauce.
"When we wrote on the jangshing, we sat on the floor with legs crossed and wrote every stroke with patience," Kalnor said. "It was not just a practice of calligraphy -- it was also a process of extreme concentration and meditation."
The jangshing is dusted with chalk through which the letters are practiced
with a bamboo pen dipped in water.
A master of fine arts, Kalnor is now an art teacher at a secondary school in Duilong Deqing County on the outskirts of Lhasa. "Children who learned to write with the jangshing concentrate easily on everything they do."
The past two decades of modernization, however, have led to the traditional writing boards being replaced by well-printed exercise books and computers. Few children still use the jangshing even in the remote herding areas.
Beginning in 2008, Kalnor traveled across Tibet searching for jangshings and expanding his private collection of the traditional writing pad that will soon fade from the public memory.
"It would be a pity if we lose this part of Tibetan culture," said Kalnor at his gallery on Barkor, a famous commercial street in the heart of Lhasa.
Kalnor has proudly put his favorite jangshing collections on display at the gallery, including one inherited from his father. The jangshings were shown alongside his modern Tibetan paintings on handmade papers and works of butterfly and Tara -- a female Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism.
Phubu Tsering, a visitor to the gallery, said he still remembered how he learned to write the Tibetan alphabet on a jangshing when he was 6.
"My mother made me some ink by adding water to barley flour that was fried dark. Sometimes she added sugar to make the liquid thicker, and I used to suck my 'pen' to taste its sweetness," said Phubu Tsering, 46.
For many Tibetans, jangshing and traditional Tibetan calligraphy are an important part of their collective memory.
"Many things of the good old days will be replaced by new things, and it might not be practical to keep jangshing, but this writing tool certainly played a major role in Tibetan education, so we should at least carry forward the essence of the traditional culture it represents," Kalnor said.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Threads of Awakening

Manjushri appliquéd in fine silks by Leslie Rinchen Wongmo.

In regard to the beautiful creation above, Leslie Rinchen Wongmo, master of Traditional Thangka appliqué quotes:

"Manjushri is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ wisdom. His flaming double-edged sword cuts through layers of misconception to discriminate clearly between the independent way things deceptively appear to exist and the interdependent way in with they actually arise. Resting on a lotus in his left hand is the text of the Perfection of Wisdom sutra, considered to be the Buddha’s most profound teaching on the ultimate nature of reality."

The Manjushri mantra om a ra pa tsa na dhi
in the High Uchen script with heading character.
Tashi Mannox 2011

Leslie recently posted a blog about her personal seal design she originally commissioned Tashi to create and tells the story of how she chanced on meeting Tashi, how he created her seal design that ten years on become the logo for her new website 'threads of awakening' showing her beautiful appliqué masterpieces. 

Leslie's personal seal meaning
Rinchen precious in the
Horyig seal script.

If you are interested in commissioning your own bespoke seal that can also be used as a logo, all that you need to know about seal design and how to order is clearly explained on the page link here:


Monday 10 October 2011

holy trends

Tashi Mannox October 2011

An expressive calligraphy of the word 'moustache' in Tibetan Drutsa script.

The 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso 土登嘉措
1876 - 1933.
His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama sporting a rather dapper mustache; the fashionable look of a gentleman in the 19th century.

The 13th Dalai Lama predicted the 1959 Chinese invasion of Tibetan and announced that he would die early, in order that his incarnation successor, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, would be old enough to act as a leader of the Tibetan people at the time of the invasion. He died a few months later in Lhasa, December 1933.

A long life prayer for the 14th Dalai Lama, born 6th July 1935.
Tibetan Petsug Calligraphy - Tashi Mannox 2011.


Sunday 2 October 2011

Laughing in the face of.......

Tashi as a monk on the roof of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet, 1996.

An explanation of the five skull paintings series called
Laughing in the Face of Death,  
To live and die without regret.      
During 2006 into 2007 Tashi Mannox focused on creating a set of five iconographic masterpieces that are steeped in Tibetan Buddhist wisdoms. Each piece took two to three months of meticulous application, using modern and traditional techniques of Thanka painting.  

In Tibetan iconography the skull is symbolic of impermanence, as Tibetans in general have a more positive attitude to death because of their Buddhist faith, the skull is often depicted as if laughing. Tashi's five skull paintings show happy almost manic grinning skulls, each of these expresses a different emotion, from a wrathful to a more peaceful expression.
The series of paintings migrate from one to the next through different mood stages, symbolizing the transition from death to re-birth, known as the bardo in Tibetan that translated as ‘between stage’.
Each of the different moods can also be depicted as the transformation of the five ‘mind poisons’ into the ‘five wisdoms’, associated with the Five ‘Buddha families’.
This is a popular Tibetan Buddhist theme, that Tashi has illuminated to his own interpretation, draws from his training in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and iconography.

Tashi explains:

“A Buddhist practitioner, a Yogi or Yogini, strives to live without harming others and themselves, up to the point of death without any regrets, knowing that they have led a full and meaningful life, and thus able to look into the face of death confidently, laughing without fear. 
For such a practitioner the time of death is a great opportunity.  
But because generally as a non-practitioner we do not know ourselves, we are ignorant, and fear death, the ultimate unknown”.

Tashi’s intention is that for the viewer of the five paintings, there can be much to contemplate. From standing back and comparing each of the skulls with each other, perhaps noting their subtle change in facial expression, different use of colour and pattern, to moving up close to peer into their void like eternally dark eyes.

“Looking into the faces of the skulls in the series is somewhat like looking at oneself, a suggestion of ones inner self and emotions, rather like looking into a mirror of the soul: it may not be an entirely comfortable experience, but there is a familiarity, which is honest and beautiful at the same time”. 

This brings up the point of the general Western attitude to death and emotions, which is somewhat morbid, hidden and generally swept under the carpet. Facing images of death maybe somewhat challenging, but with courage of heart, one can laugh in the face of death and the emotional trappings, overcoming ones fears and transforming a negative into a positive.

The five painting are displayed in a specific order as numbered and explained below:

1. ‘Laughing in the face of Anger’

The first of the five skull series is black in colour, angry and more wrathful.
The mood of this piece is one of loss, which hovers ghostly in space. The remedy is to tame hatred, converting to loving-kindness is the first of the five wisdoms.

2. ‘Laughing in the face of Attachment’

Next is red in colour, of passion and attachment, avarice is all consuming like a fire that burns up with devastating destruction. The antidote of grasping is generosity, a great wisdom to practice.

3. ‘Laughing in the face of Pride’

Golden yellow is the colour of riches of the earth and the adornment of the self. The mood of this piece is pride, elaborate and princely. Pride converts to humility and respect as a wisdom.

4. ‘Laughing in the face of Jealousy’

Green is the colour of energy and envy. This deluded and sneaky jealous emotion can be transformed into seeing all as the same, the wisdom of equanimity.

5. ‘Laughing in the face of Stupidity’

Lastly, blue is emptiness. Through taming one’s mind, one has the clear insight to find liberation from these emotions of ignorance. This is the freedom of wisdom, as vast and limitless as the blue sky. This symbolizes the bud of potential, to bloom with fruition, full and glorious.

The middle three skulls are crowned with the Sun and Moon motif, symbolising Wisdom and Compassion, the emblem of balance and harmony.


The "laughing in the face of Death" series is now available as excellent quality limited edition prints.
The reproductions are premium-quality giclée printed, on mould-made papers (the finest and oldest paper-making technique) of 310-315 g/m². The papers; Velin and Aquarelle 100% rag, are of museum conservation standard, ensures stability and UV colorfast ink longevity of more than 120 years.

Each image is carefully colour matched and in sharpness to the original artwork. The prints are hand signed with the edition number and stamped with the artists’ personal ‘water tiger’ seal.
Where gold and silver leaf have been used on originally artworks, the prints are carefully hand gilded to produce an authentic real gold and silver finish, otherwise not achieved to such a bright luster by printed reproduction alone.
Please note that not all of the smaller sized prints are possible to gild due to their petit finesse.

Prints can be ordered in a choice of three sizes, individually or as the set of five:

1. Large size prints of approximately 67x50 cm, this is near to the actual size of the original artworks.
2. Half size at 50x36.5 cm
3. Smaller size of approximately 40x29.7 cm. 

Saturday 1 October 2011

Skull paintings premières in London.

An early study for the 'Laughing in the Face of Death"
series, 2006.

For the first time in the Capital, the complimentary surroundings of the Jivamukti Yoga Centre in West London showcases a collection of Tashi Mannox's limited edition art prints. Featuring the iconic five skull paintings called the "Laughing in the face of Death"series, as below.

The exhibition opens on Sunday 16th October 2011 when at 6.45pm Tashi gives a short talk and  meditation. For more details click here. and here.

This event also coincides and runs as part of the Himalayan Film & Cultural Festival in London. The festival runs from 13-31st October that celebrates rich and varied cultures of the world's mightiest mountain range with film, music, art and photography. Follow the link here for more information.

Tashi leading a meditation retreat on Holy Island 1993.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

World Calligraphy

A detail from "The Heart of Emptiness" Tashi Mannox 2008.

The calligraphy traditions of the world are many, each with their own unique style and beauty. Historically calligraphy has documented the greatest knowledge and wisdoms of the world, preserved and treasured as illuminated manuscripts. 
In more resent times the calligraphy styles have developed into fonts, easily published; they have become powerful tools of communication in propaganda and prayers distributed as: 
"May peace prevail on Earth"

Learn Calligraphy of the world by Margaret Shepherd.

Margaret Shepherd a well-known calligraphy artist and prolific author of dozens of books on calligraphy and how to write masterfully. 
She has recently published another called "Learn World Calligraphy": an amply illustrated book that presents African, Arabic, Chinese, Ethiopic, Greek, Hebrew, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Russian, Thai and Tibetan calligraphy.
The above art piece called "The Heart of Emptiness" is among others of Tashi's works that are illustrated within the Tibetan Calligraphy section of the book.

The ‘written’ script represents a language, and a language represents thought. Therefore, one must be able to write a script that is understandable to all, that the meaning of the word is best honored as a beautiful art form called calligraphy. This is the integrity of the written language and the preservation of the knowledge that it upholds. Tashi Mannox 2011.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Print Exhibition

"Laughing in the face of stupidity"
ⓒ Tashi Mannox 2011

Herefordshire Art Week: 10-18 September 2011

h.Art is Herefordshire's Open Studios tenth event, giving you exclusive access to artists' studios, workshops and special exhibitions. This year there are 103 fantastic venues spread across the whole county and borders. It is the perfect opportunity to meet the makers in relaxed surroundings, learn about their techniques and inspiration and perhaps buy a print or an original artwork. 

For the first time Tashi Mannox exhibits in his home county Herefordshire. This will also be a première showing of his striking set of five "Laughing in the face of death" paintings as well as other first editions from his illuminated iconographic series, of which have been beautifully replicated as more affordable limited addition giclée prints. 

There is an opportunity to meet Tashi personally during the exhibition opening on Saturday 10th September, 7pm-9.30pm. 

To see details of this exhibition and other Herefordshire art events, please follow the link here.

If you are unable to visit the exhibition and would like to order limited addition prints, there is a wider range of prints in different sizes available via the Tashi Mannox website.

Hand gilding a print with genuine gold and silver leaf.