Tabo - Gods of Light

The Indo-Tibetan Masterpiece

Peter van Ham

Tabo - Gods of Light

Peter van Ham

Distributed for Hirmer Publishers

308 pages | 405 color plates | 11 x 11 | © 2014
Cloth $65.00 ISBN: 9783777423265 Published February 2015 For sale in Canada, Mexico, and the USA only
More than a thousand years old, the monastery complex of Tabo in the north-Indian region of the Himalayas is the oldest temple complex in the Tibetan cultural area to have been preserved in its original state. Its main temple, the Temple of the Enlightened Gods, is a unique expression of Tibetan culture and architecture, while its halls form a horizontal walkable mandala. In addition, the monastery holds a wealth of exquisitely preserved artworks, including sculptures and paintings.
For this book, the Archaeological Survey of India allowed Peter van Ham unprecedented access to this otherwise forbidden place. The result is a stunning visual account of the outstanding beauty and history contained within the monastery. A concise text accompanies the images, bringing in the latest research on the sanctuary of Tabo, making this volume an absolute must-have for art historians, travelers, and anyone else who has been captivated by the history and culture of Tibet.


By His Eminence, the Venerable Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche

Introducing the Sanctuary – Stories, Programs, Singularities

Surrounding the Sanctuary – Mountains, Deserts, Valleys

Founding the Sanctuary – Backgrounds, Reasons, Consequences

The Temple of the Enlightened Gods – Tsugla Khang

                The Entrance Hall – Gökhang

                The Assembly Hall – Dukhang

                The Apse

                The Tsugla Khang of Tabo: A Thematic Entity?

                Towards the reassessment of a unified iconography

The Protector’s Chamber – Gönkhang

The Golden Hall – Serkhang

Domtön’s Great Temple – Domtön Lhakhang Chenpo

The Cave Sanctuary – Bo Gömpa

Other Sanctuaries

Working on the Sanctuary – Thanks, Notes, Scriptures

Financial Support/Colophon

Review Quotes
New York Review of Books
“Peter van Ham, an authority on early Indo-Tibetan art, has now given us a splendid photographic record of the Tabo masterpieces—undoubtedly the finest pictures we have from this site.”
“The monastery complex of Tabo in the Himalayas of northern India dates back a thousand years and is remarkable as one of the oldest continually operating temple complexes in the Tibetan cultural region to retain original artwork. . . . With beautiful photography and detailed analysis, van Ham documents the complex in Tabo: Gods of Light giving new perspective on a treasured institution.”
“The photographs are . . . judiciously selected and printed, delighting and informing close viewing, as might be expected of an experienced art photographer with a great deal of experience working in South Asia. The excellent integration of rare historical photographs with contemporary ones, the careful illustration and organization of the narrative series, and the generous use of details significantly extend the published treatments of the site to date.  Not the last word on the site, but illustrations that engage and reveal.”
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