Cheap Thrills

TIBET IN TUCSON: The Tucson Museum of Art and the Arizona Friends of Tibet kick off a week-long celebration of the mystical Asian highland with the unveiling of Seven Years in Tibet, displaying the historic photographs of famed Austrian explorer Heinrich Harrer.

It was in the midst of World War II that Harrer and a companion found themselves prisoners in an Indian camp. But the pair soon undertook a daring escape over the Himalayas and into Tibet, eventually journeying to the capital, Lhasa.

Still considered the "forbidden kingdom," the country banned foreigners, and Tibetans were strictly forbidden from giving them food or shelter. But the present Dalai Lama--a teenager at the time--took the frostbitten travelers under his tutelage and permitted them to stay. Harrer subsequently became the leader's informal tutor, and was allowed to photograph traditional ceremonies rarely glimpsed by Westerners.

The resulting 3,000 images eventually comprised the most elaborate archival history of Tibetan culture, a way of life threatened with extinction following the 1950 invasion by China. Harrer eventually compiled many of the photos into a book, Seven Years in Tibet. Later translated into more than 48 languages, it's sold more than three million copies to date. Many of the images were also published in Life and National Geographic magazines, including one of the Dalai Lama fleeing his homeland on horseback over treacherous Himalayan footpaths.

Harrer's topic continues to draw controversy, with a movie of his life planned by Columbia Pictures. Disney is meanwhile producing a biographical film of the Dalai Lama, and China--which considers Tibet a part of its domain--threatened to ban the entertainment company from its shores if the project wasn't abandoned.

Into this maelstrom enters the TMA exhibit, which will coincide with workshops and performances throughout the week exploring various aspects of Tibetan culture.

The display opens with a reception at 5 p.m. Friday, January 17, in the TMA courtyard, accompanied by the sound of Tibetan horns. Drepung Loseling lamas will simultaneously begin construction of a Medicine Buddha sand mandala.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, January 18, the museum will host a discussion titled Tibetan-Medicine Buddha Sand Mandala: Significance and Philosophy.

Children's workshops will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, January 21 and 22, at the TMA. They'll include sandpainting, carpet weaving, painting demonstrations and a special performance of Sacred Music, Sacred Dance by the Drepung Loseling monks.

The monks will also perform at 8 p.m. Friday, January 24, in the UA Centennial Hall. Tickets range from $9 to $23, and are available at the Centennial Hall box office and Dillard's. For information, call 621-3341.

The week closes at 1 p.m. Saturday, January 25, at the TMA with a Medicine Buddha Sand Mandala Dissolution and Ecumenical World Peace Prayer service.

Seven Years in Tibet runs through March 9 at the TMA, 140 S. Main Ave. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 624-2333. TW

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