<em>Thangka</em> (painting on textile) depicting Saraha and other Mahasiddhas, Tibet, 18th century, Tantra: Enlightenment to Revolution, British Museum, 24 September 2020 - 24 January 2021 | Courtesy of British Museum
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Multiple-armed statues, paintings like gardens in bloom, rare prints and ritual gold pieces shining through the ages - at the British Museum, the ancient and revolutionary philosophy of the Tantra is revealed through precious objects from India and Nepal, Tibet and Japan. Originating on the Indian sub-continent, the Tantra raced through East and West, transforming thought and undergoing numerous metamorphosis itself. At the heart of this ancient philosophy is the power of female energy, capable of subverting both ancient and modern societies - from the ascent of the feminine divinity in the India of the Middle Ages to the counterculture of the Sixties, from India’s struggle for independence to feminist philosophy and contemporary artistic practices. This exhibition at the British Museum allows us to follow the evolution of the Tantra over the centuries and discover the influence it had on key religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as its influence on political and sexual norms across the globe. Extraordinary objects show how traditional elements of the Tantra can be found in almost all Asian cultures, then landing in a historic void - that of its study in the West, where the Tantra was lauded and embraced enthusiastically but, often, without any regard for its most authentic meanings.
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