Bhutan: The Cloud Kingdom

A sort of heaven on Earth tucked away in the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan has been revered as home to gods and Bhutanese mortals. Buddhist since the Seventh Century, the culture reveres all life, so the natural splendor of this Asian nation is well-preserved. Until the late 20th Century, the country was closed to outsiders, and even now, in order to maintain its natural environment, tourism is strictly limited (according to the Bhutan Tourism Corp., only 18,000 tourists were permitted in 2006). So if you aren¹t one of the lucky ones who can visit the kingdom of heaven before you die, you can always visit "Bhutan: The Cloud Kingdom." In addition to paintings, clothing, jewelry, prayer flags, and other cultural objects, the exhibit provides 60 photographs that document the land, dwellings, people, and culture of this country nestled between Tibet and India. Informative placards accompany the exhibit and let visitors know, for instance, about the symbolism within a flag with a dragon (honors the country's nickname, "Land of the Thunder Dragon" on a two-toned background (yellow honors the country's secular authority; orange honors Buddhism) or the waterproof qualities and multiple uses of colorful, woven bamboo bowls. The exhibit's five paintings, all gouache on paper, are spiritual in nature, depicting the Thunder Dragon, deities, parables, and important cultural symbols, while the objects reveal both the practical lives of the Bhutanese and their aesthetics. (Through July 31 at the Society of the Four Arts, Children's Art Gallery, 2 Four Arts Plz., Palm Beach. Call 561-655-7227.)
 
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