Buddhist Art in Gruyères

 

A HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM

 

Assembled with immense care and respect by Alain Bordier, this beautiful collection presents over 300 Himalayan works of art dating from the 6th to the 18th century. The sculptures, paintings and ritual objects come from Tibet, Nepal, Kashmir, northern India and Burma. They represent gods, deities and objects used for meditation and which express externally the inner qualities that are the devotion and understanding of the very essence of the mind.

Mr. Bordier's most cherished desire has always been to share his fascination with as many people as possible and especially to preserve and keep together these miraculously preserved objects. An immersion into the beauty of art and the discovery of these exquisite objects is attained peacefully within this historic place of religion and its former chapel. 

For Buddhism, sight, hearing, memory and touch are the four sources of liberation; to contemplate these objects within one glance, may it be but an instant, is almost certainly the promise of an inner transformation. The beauty shown by the different pieces exhibited will surely contribute to the inner gratification of the visitors, beyond their culture, affiliations and beliefs.

 

The Tibetan Museum resides within the ancient chapel of Saint Joseph

 

A HISTORY OF THE SITE

 

The Tibetan Museum has found its abode within the ancient chapel of Saint Joseph, the chapel of the old Château Saint Germain in Gruyere, which, from the  end of the 19th century, served as an institute for deaf and dumb children, run by Catholic nuns. They wished to offer these children an access to communication, and, by extension, an opening  to the world and to others.

In 1920, when the nuns left Gruyères, the ministry and the chapel were bought by a private family and the chapel now serves as a storage hall and sometimes a playroom for the village children.

The religious symbolism of the chapel is very important. In addition to the Christ, Mary and Joseph, one finds on a stained glass window Saint Pancrace, considered a healer and protector of flocks. On one of the walls of the chapel, a fresco depicts St. Francis of Assisi talking to the birds, just like his Tibetan contemporary, Milarepa, who also looked lovingly and compassionately on his winged brothers, as well as all living things. On another painting, Christ heals a deaf-mute by saying to him:

"Ouvre-toi! (Ephphetha) "

By installing the Tibet Museum in this chapel, the Alain Bordier Foundation chose to perpetuate the opening vocation of this site. It thus offers the public access to the art and philosophy of Himalayan Buddhism and reopens, in the spirit of respect and openness, the doors of a religiously historical monument.  

This is a place of awakening and enrichment capable of bringing together two worlds that may seem so different, but which, nevertheless, began from the same humanity.