Yesterday we had a very distinguished visitor in one of our laboratory spaces. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, met with some of the staff and toured the Sterling Memorial Library and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Karmapa was invited to give the Chubb Fellowship Lecture at Woolsey Hall. While showing the Karmapa our lab and discussing our work with South Asia collections, he told us that that he knew Ann Shaftel, the thangkas conservation specialist that Conservation & Exhibition Services worked with to assess the Beinecke’s collection of 70 or so Tibetan thangkas. Ann was a student of the Karmapa and she returned the favor by teaching him a little about inpainting – apparently he was a natural at this very careful and delicate conservation task to fill areas of loss in paintings.
Following the lab tour, everyone headed to the Beinecke to see a number of examples of thangkas and other South Asian artifacts from Yale’s library collections. It was rewarding and humbling to see our handiwork (special housings for the thangkas) displayed for His Holiness the Karmapa and members of his traveling group.
The event was in part organized by the Himalayan Studies Initiative and Professor Andrew Quintman, with whom library conservation staff have worked in the past on exhibitions and classes.