The art of the Himalayas are represented by two high-quality collections that have the additional appeal of having been built up locally.
The first is that of the Belgian, Léon Verbert, who worked in China and undertook numerous journeys. He amassed 600 or so Tibetan, Mongolian and Chinese items, 385 of which were acquired by the Belgian State in 1956. They include gilded bronze and wooden figures, Buddhist ritual objects and especially roll paintings (known as ‘thang-ka’), and date from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. By and large, they originate from the provinces of Amdo and Kham in Eastern Tibet.
The second is that put together by Colonel Mc Donald, who worked in India and in the 1930s donated his collection of Nepalese bronze sculptures and ritual objects to the RMAH.
In 1956, the RMAH acquired 200 Tibetan ‘thang-ka’ or roll paintings as a legacy from Léon Verbert, an avid traveller with a particular fascination for art and culture, who worked in China from 1907 to 1935. Two rare items are the ‘thang-ka’ with gold hand- and footprints, on which are depicted the first Dalai Lama and the first king of Tibet, as well as representations of the Potala and other important monasteries of the Gelugpa Order.
There is also a complete series of twelve from the eighteenth century, which show the most important deeds and events from the life of Buddha.