Tibetan Scroll Wins Award

A calligrapher seeks to revive interest among exile Tibetans in an ancient art.
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Jamyang Dorjee holds certificate of recognition.
Jamyang Dorjee holds certificate of recognition.

A Tibetan calligraphy scroll has won recognition by the Miami-based World Records Academy as the world’s longest in any language.

The scroll, 163.2 meters (approximately 565 feet) long and containing 65,000 Tibetan characters, was completed in six months by master calligrapher Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar. Using four different written styles, the scroll contains prayers for the long life of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

“These are prayers written by 32 great spiritual masters,” Jamyang Dorjee said.

“I wanted the prayers written by all those great masters to be on one sheet of paper so that those masters could be united with His Holiness the Dalai Lama during these 50 years of struggle in Tibetan history.”

Jamyang Dorjee also prepared the scroll, which he finished in July, to “promote Tibetan calligraphy,” he said.

Born 56 years ago in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, Jamyang Dorjee “learned [calligraphy] the traditional way, using bamboo pens. Then I slowly developed my abilities.”

Jamyang Dorjee left Tibet with his family as a child following a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule, and continued his education in India. He later worked for the government of Sikkim, an Indian state and center of Tibetan culture, and then joined the India-based government in exile of the Dalai Lama.

Later still, he served as director of the exile community’s Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.

Wishes and prayers

Guests and staff view the scroll at the International Campaign for Tibet. Credit: RFA
Guests and staff view the scroll at the International Campaign for Tibet. Credit: RFA RFA

Speaking in August at the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, Tibet expert Greg Kruglak called Jamyang Dorjee’s scroll important for more than its length, “though when you see it rolled out, it’s unbelievably long.”

“What’s really important is the content,” said Kruglak, chairman of the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture. “These are prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

“And it reflects the wishes and the aspirations and the prayers of every Tibetan I’ve ever met, and many, many of the friends of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from the West and from all over the world who pray for his long life.”

“This is the manifestation of the care that we all have and that we all express,” Kruglak said.

Jamyang Dorjee said that interest in classical calligraphy has recently revived in Tibet, but called it a “dying art” outside the region, due partly to the widespread use of computers by young Tibetans in exile.

Tibetans raised in the West who have seen the form “find it very beautiful,” though, Jamyang Dorjee said.

“I hope now that more and more people are talking about it, and that it can be revived.”

Originally reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Written in English with additional reporting by Richard Finney.





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