By Catherine Bootland
Lama Rigzin came all the way from his monastery in Tibet to say “Tashi Deleg” — a special Tibetan greeting — to the SLLA group when he came to give a lecture on Traditional Tibetan Art and Early Contemporary Script Styles.
Professor Karen Littleton was also present to translate but Lama Rigzin delivered his lecture in English with great effect and humour. He has a huge knowledge of Tibetan religious art and scripts and has spent many years studying religious painting travelling to many monasteries. In particular, he talked of studying with his teacher Sonam Nyima in Tibet between 2009-2012.
We saw pictures of his hugely impressive wall paintings around the Namo Buddha Temple in Nepal. He explained that natural stone minerals were used to make the pigments for the wall paintings and in another project he painted with gold and silver on paper. His lifelong dedication and commitment to his work shone out as he carefully explained how in the Tibetan alphabet of 30 consonants and four vowels the calligraphic Sanskrit styles developed.
There were over a hundred script styles to learn and they each had unusual names like ‘Hanging Bird’ and ‘String of Pearls’. We saw how the traditional pens were made from bamboo, cut and dried above a fire and then the nib cut specially to suit the chosen script. More information is available in his book and at the Kagyu Samye Dzong, The Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre in Bermondsey.
To close the evening, Lama Rigzin announced a period of silent meditation for us all with his bell, a moving reminder of how beneficial it is to be in the right frame of mind to make calligraphy.