Rainbows Appear: Tibetan Poems of Shakbar

By Shabkar, Matthieu Ricard, Jigme Doushe
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Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdröl (1781—1851) was a Tibetan yogi who spent many years in solitary meditation—after which he devoted the rest of his life to teaching, traveling throughout the Tibet region, gaining renown for the powerful teachings he freely gave to everyone he encountered. His autobiography, from which these poems are taken, is a Tibetan classic. Jigme Doushe has given Shabkar’s songs a fresh and original calligraphic interpretation, mixing traditional versions of Tibetan forms with contemporary innovations. Rhythmic, elegant, and rich with Buddhist symbolism, his calligraphy is an homage to the splendor of a disappearing culture. Calligraphy (from the Greek for “beautiful writing”) is an art where word and image meet, where the artist strives to give visual expression to the meaning of words in a way that transcends the text while remaining completely faithful to it. It is a discipline that has been invested with spiritual significance wherever it has arisen—and it has arisen throughout the world in every age, in virtually every language, culture, and religion. The Shambhala Calligraphy series is a collection of books devoted to contemporary expressions of this “art of the word,” featuring contemporary calligraphers’ striking new interpretations of texts that have been traditional subjects for calligraphic interpretation. Whether in Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or Chinese pictographs, the characters, words, and sentences are brought to life anew here in a choreography of mind, hand, and heart by which letter and spirit fuse in a single stroke.