Bodies in Balance

The Art of Tibetan Medicine

Edited by Theresia Hofer

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  • $74.95 hardcover (9780295993591) Add to Cart
  • Published: 2014
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / Tibet; Art History / Asian Art
  • Bibliographic information: 360 pp., 250 illus., 120 color, 10 x 12 in.
  • Published with: Rubin Museum of Art
  • Contents

2015 Best Art Book Accolade, ICAS Book Prize in the Humanities Category

Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine is the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary exploration of the triangular relationship among the Tibetan art and science of healing (Sowa Rigpa), Buddhism, and arts and crafts. This book is dedicated to the history, theory, and practice of Tibetan medicine, a unique and complex system of understanding body and mind, treating illness, and fostering health and well-being. Sowa Rigpa has been influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Greco-Arab medical traditions but is distinct from them. Developed within the context of Buddhism, Tibetan medicine was adapted over centuries to different health needs and climates across the region encompassing the Tibetan Plateau, the Himalayas, and Mongolia. Its focus on a holistic approach to health has influenced Western medical thinking about the prevention, diagnoses, and treatment of illness.

Generously illustrated with more than 200 images, Bodies in Balance includes essays on contemporary practice, pharmacology and compounding medicines, astrology and divination, history and foundational treatises. The volume brings to life the theory and practice of this ancient healing art.
Theresia Hofer, an anthropologist, is the curator of the Bodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine exhibition and author of The Inheritance of Change: Transmission and Practice of Tibetan Medicine in Ngamring. Contributors include Pasang Yontan Arya, Sienna R. Craig, Gyurme Dorje, Yang Ga, Frances Garrett, Barbara Gerke, Janet Gyatso, Theresia Hofer, Knud Larsen, Katharina Sabernig, Martin Saxer, Geoffrey Samuel, Inger Vasstveit, and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim.

"We get an even larger understanding of [Tibetan medicine] - including a discussion of contemporary Tibetan pharmacology, the history of Tibetan surgery and the global influence of Tibetan healing - in the imposing exhibition catalog, edited by Ms. Hofer."
-Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

"A beautifully produced exhibition catalogue . . . containing 12 richly illustrated chapters by scholars working on diverse dimensions of sowa rigpa's textual, visual, scientific, religious, and cultural meanings, this will surely become a definitive resource for teaching and scholarship on the theme. . . . Bodies in Balance takes the already sophisticated representational art and science of Tibetan medicine into new and exciting territory."
-Sara Shneiderman, Museum Anthropology

"It is not hyperbole to describe this collection itself as a work of art. This large and colorful volume might make for a novel and fresh approach to teaching as part of an in-depth investigation of Tibetan medicine. . . . [Bodies in Balance] serves as a detailed introduction to Tibetan medicine and simultaneously probes the complex debates embedded in the interdisciplinary study of Tibetan medicine."
-Sara Lewis, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

"This beautifully designed, richly illustrated, scholarly, and compelling exhibition catalogue is a must-read for all those who want to get to know in detail and appreciate the art of Tibetan medicine. . . . An outstanding companion to what has probably been the most important exhibition to date on the art and practice of Tibetan medicine."
-Mona Schrempf, Journal of Asian Studies

"The thirteen contributors are researchers (and some practitioners) of international repute who have all, without exception, produced articles of high quality that succeed in achieving the fine balance between scholarly rigor and accessibility to a non-specialist audience. . . . A good deal of careful thought has clearly gone into the content and structure of the book in order to guide the diligent reader through the labyrinths of this extraordinarily diverse and complex field. . . . A work that is, by any standards, a magnificent achievement."
-Charles Ramble, Arts Asiatiques