Tibetan arts and culture will come to the Wood River Valley for five days this summer, July 30-Aug. 3. People are invited to join the Drepung Loseling monks as they create mandala sand paintings at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum, their tour ending with a performance called “Sacred Music Sacred Dance.”

The Mystical Arts of Tibet is a world tour endorsed by the Dalai Lama, intended to promote world peace and healing through sharing Tibet’s performing and visual arts with modern audiences. The monk artists have been touring North and South America and Europe for the past 30 years, crossing the globe and sharing events that are part of a tradition that dates back 2,500 years.

The touring monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery are not full-time professional artists; they are monks taking time off from their life-long devotion to participate in sharing their artistry with the world. At the end of each tour, the monks return to Drepung Monastery to continue their contemplation and studies.

The Drepung Loseling Monastery was originally established in Tibet in 1416, but was rebuilt in Karnataka State, South India, following the Chinese Communist invasion of Tibet in 1959. Currently, there are more than 3,000 monks in the re-established Drepung Monastery, as many young spiritual aspirants fled Chinese-occupied Tibet and sought refuge.

In 1991, due to the success of The Mystical Arts of Tibet tours, the monks were invited to establish a seat in North America, resulting in the creation of Drepung Loseling Monastery Inc. in Atlanta, Ga. The nonprofit is dedicated to the study and preservation of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of wisdom and compassion, and offers academic and spiritual programs, as well as produces and coordinates The Mystical Arts of Tibet world tours.

The Mystical Arts of Tibet offers many programs, including educational/outreach programs, and a photography exhibition of Tibetan landscapes and daily life in Tibet. Two of the offered programs will take place at the Argyros Center in Ketchum: mandala sand paintings and the “Sacred Music Sacred Dance” performance.

The mandala sand painting begins with the monks drawing an outline of the mandala they will create on a wooden platform, followed by laying colored sands onto the surface with traditional metal funnels. This process typically occurs over a period of days or weeks, and is traditionally deconstructed shortly after completion, symbolizing the impermanence of life. The “Sacred Music Sacred Dance” performance is believed to generate energies conducive to world healing through the performance of ancient temple music and dance. The monks are particularly known for their multiphonic chanting, called zokkay.

The sand mandala will take place over a span of five days and is free to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Tickets for the “Sacred Music Sacred Dance” performance on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7:30 p.m. are $35-$60, and can be purchased online at theargyros.org, or by calling the Argyros box office at 208-726-7872.

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