Introduction by Irina Machitski
In recent years, the "Tretyakov Gallery" magazine has prepared and published several special issues within the framework of our "On the Crossroads of Cultures" project, a focus initiated and actively promoted by the GRANY Foundation. These issues were dedicated to cultural and artistic contacts between countries and peoples as well as between museums and artists. Such examples have included: "USA-Russia" (two issues), "Italy-Russia", "Norway-Russia" and "Switzerland-Russia".
In autumn 2014, another potential "On the Crossroads of Cultures" subject appeared, this time coming from the East: the Buddhist culture and traditions that reach beyond geographic borders. For centuries, Buddhist tradition has existed and thrived in Russia. Among the ethnic peoples that live on the territory of Russia, it is mainly the Buryats, Kalmyks and Tuvans that have traditionally followed and practiced Buddhism, as well as promoted the cultural heritage of this truly universal doctrine. Buddhism received official recognition as a religion in the Russian Empire in the early 17th century, when Kalmyks professing Buddhism joined the diverse peoples of that state. Over the last 25 post-Soviet years, interest and study of Buddhist tradition has grown, spreading across all Russia, including the country's main cities and regions.
Today, there is a clear trend to preserve and develop religious traditions. This trend gained significant momentum in Orthodox Russia, and the same applies to Buddhist Russia. Our country is now often visited by the leading Buddhist masters, among them Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche. In a recent interview for the "Tretyakov Gallery" magazine, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche spoke about an initiative called "The 108 Masters of Dzogchen Lineage Thangkas Project", which he first envisioned 30 years ago as a way to preserve and pass on the essential teachings of Buddhist tradition. Orgyen Tobgyal has recently embarked on making this vision a reality. It is now our great honour to present his project to our readers.
Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche's 108 Masters of Dzogchen Lineage Thangkas Project is dedicated to authentically preserving for us, and for future generations, the teachings of the Dzogchen lineage as a part of wider human history as well as Buddhist tradition. Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche's initiative will make it possible for people to visualize - through painted images called thangkas - the 108 masters who represent the spiritual Dzogchen lineage. The project will commission artists to create 108 separate thangkas; guided by the project founder Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, the artists will work in accordance with traditional canons developed over the centuries.
The resulting 108 thangkas are destined to make a vital contribution to world cultural heritage. We have a unique opportunity to join this project in its initial stages.
The Tretyakov Gallery publication takes a great interest in 108 Masters of Dzogchen Lineage Thangkas Project because the project's mission is to preserve and develop the centuries-old painting tradition of one of the most ancient world religions.
President of the GRANY Foundation
Publisher of the "Tretyakov Gallery" magazine