Embassy News /

Russian Centre of Science and Culture

Kamal Pokhari, Kathmandu


Buddhism in Russia

27 April 26 May 2012


To further strengthen the relations between, Russia and Nepal, and to share the closeness of cultural & religious traditions of our two countries, the selection of this topic Buddhism in Russia for an exhibition is not accidental. Buddhism is the most ancient world religion and became the dominant confession of a huge number of Nations, and it has been known in Russia for a long time. It is a vibrant and evolving spiritual tradition declared to be among the official religious confessions of Russia as far back as in 1741 during the rule of Empress Yelizaveta Petrovna.

The Tibetan form of Buddhism that first spread to Russia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the nomadic Mongol tribes of Oirats (present-day Kalmyks) and Buryats migrated to the lower reaches of the Volga and to the east of Lake Baikal and Tuva (a region in west of Lake Baikal and north of Mongolia). Although the Buryats, Kalmyks, and Tuvans all shared a common religion, within each group Buddhism evolved independently. The result was distinct national systems of monasteries (Buryat datsans, Kalmyk khuruls, and Tuvan khure) and separate national ecclesiastical structures.

Although during the Soviet era religions and spiritualism were not the field of focus but now the situation is different, Russia being a secular country all religions are open and of equal liberty. Since 1991 the first Buddhist books began to be published, as well as a number of Buddhist journals, including "Buddhism", "Nartang Bulletin" (renamed "Buddhism of Russia" in 1995), "Garuda," "Mir Kag'iu" (now "Buddhism.ru") and others. By 2003 approximately fifty Buddhist internet sites were functioning.

Today Buddhist culture is an important component in the revival of the ethnic values of Russias peoples, one of the main criteria of their self-identification. Buddhism in Russia is not limited to the traditionally Buddhist regions Buryatia, Kalmykia, and Tuva. The interest to Buddhism in contemporary Russia is no exclusion, it follows the global trend.

This exhibition features high-quality state-of-the-art technological reproductions of the 19th century Buddhist artworks, including those from the collection of Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor, 19th century photographs the Russian Museum of Ethnography and National Museum of the Buryat Republic, and National Museum of the Tuva Republic, and National Museum of the Kalmykia Republic, and the works of contemporary artists used in the decoration of Buddhist temples in Russia.

A Russian delegation from the All-Russia Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts consists of Professors, scholars of Russian Academy of Sciences led by Curator of the Exhibition Ms. Irina Kolopova and Dr. Natalia Zhukovskaya, Professor of Russian Academy of Sciences is arriving to Nepal on April 21, 2012 to present the exhibition.

This kind of exhibition was already presented in India and Bhutan in 2011, and now we are organizing it in Nepal, the birth place of Lord Gautam Buddha. The Exhibition is amidst the Visit Lumbini Year 2012. However this kind of exhibition is the first time in the history of Russia-Nepal relations.

The exhibition will be of great interest, as it opens little known pages of religious life of the country that shares with Nepal decades of firm friendship and multifaceted cooperation. The exhibition is a kind of the Festival of Russian Culture in Nepal. The Russian Centre of Science and Culture is happy to introduce Russian Buddhist heritage and contemporary life of this ancient religion to Nepalese people. This exhibition will enhance the knowledge of Nepalese people about Russias rich cultural heritage, thus it will further boost humanitarian and spiritual relations between Russia and Nepal.

A little about the All-Russia Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts

July 21, 1981, marked the opening of the All-Russia Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts in Moscow. Its purpose is to further encourage the study, propaganda and development of these arts. The decorative-applied and folk arts of the Russia and beyond its confines.

The Museum's collections comprise about 40.000 pieces - unique specimens of wood carving, painting on wood, weaving, pottery, embroidery, lace, painted lacquer work from Palekh, Fedoskino, Mstiora and Kholui, and many exhibits representing other folk crafts. There are also articles produced by the modern artcraft industry; these are based on the traditional - and often improved - forms and techniques of folk art.

The rich funds of the Museum enable it to give visitors a full idea of the development of the decorative-applied and folk arts from the late seventeenth century to our own day.

Russian Museum of Ethnography

The Russian Museum of Ethnography is the largest museum of the world representing the traditional culture of the peoples of Russia and adjacent countries of Europe and Asia. The Museum has been functioning for more than a hundred years. It is located in the center of St. Petersburg, in the Square of Arts, housed in the building designed to display ethnographical collections by V.F.Svinyin, the Architect of the Russian Imperial Court, and foreign colleagues justifiably call it the ethnographic Hermitage. The Museums fund of exhibits counts more than half a million ethnographic artifacts reflecting traditional culture of 158 ethnic groups of Russia and adjacent countries.

Yelena Zonkhoyeva, a member of the Union of Russian Artists, the author of 10 solo and the participant of about a 100 all-Union, all-Russia and foreign exhibitions. The works by this artist are in the collection of the State Hermitage, the Russian Museum of Ethnography, and other museums and private collections both in Russia, and abroad.

The beauty of her artworks, joyful, life asserting colors, the feeling of admiration and love for the world and traditional Buddhist culture, - all this attracts the spectator, conquering his heart, communicating eternal truths and spiritual values of Buddhism through modern art.

Exhibition organizers

Russian Centre of Science and Culture, Kathmandu, Nepal

Lumbini Buddhist University, Nepal

Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

All-Russian Decorative Art Museum

Russian Museum of Ethnography

With the support of

Embassy of Russian Federation in Nepal, Kathmandu

Nepal Tourism Board, Kathmandu

Venue: Russian Centre of Science and Culture, Kathmandu

Open to public from 27th April to 26th May 2012 from 10 a.m. 5 p.m.

Exhibition curator

Irina Klopova