Phurba Namgay painted this Four Friends for the Small Packages show at Cumberland Gallery in Nashville which starts December 1st and goes through the 24th. Each of the four 6 x 4" pieces in the show illustrate Bhutanese folktales. Images of the four friends are all over Bhutan and remind us to live harmoniously. The elephant, monkey, rabbit and bird help each other pick the berries from the tree and it's come to represent the spirit of cooperation that makes life easier and more harmonious. If these animals can work together anybody should be able to. Most often in depictions of the Four Friends the bird sits on the rabbit who sits on the monkey who sits on the elephants back, and the bird is reaching for a piece of fruit on the tree. Namgay said he wanted to unstack them and give a more democratic distribution of labor. So he did.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Marriage has been about self discovery. Namgay and I have some similar and some different beliefs, but because we're married going on 12 years, and because we plan to stay married, happily if we can manage, we've sort of meshed what we believe. Each of us knows what's important to the other. When we take big trips-- like to the US from Bhutan-- we go to Dechencholing, as do most people living in the Thimphu Valley, and get a blessing. Namgay consults a tsip, or astrologer, who tells him things like the most auspicious direction and time to begin the journey. Sometimes we have to back out of the house in the middle of the night so that we start out a long trip facing the right direction. There might be something to all this. Belief is not as important as doing it because he believes it's important.
It makes me a little sad that stories of women going to foreign places and finding love are cliche. It's been done to death. I don't really have an opinion about other books and other people's lives, but for me marrying into another culture made me better. It automatically made me a citizen of the world, and made me take the focus off myself. Sometimes I feel like I glaze over the difficult parts of our intercultural marriage; it takes an enormous amount of work and a superhuman capacity to love and forgive. And not just your spouse. And then you have to love more. And laugh. I think about all these things and wonder if my friend Aldra, whose husband is Scottish, has her own culture clash and citizen of the world dynamic. I wonder if she eats haggis.