This was the grand prize winning quilt at the show. I'm terribly sorry I don't have the quilters's name. She was an American. I have been a student of Tibet for many years, have traveled there twice and recognize all the costumes and, of course, the Dalai Lama in the center -- I am SO glad that at least in this quilt he can go home again. What a sadness that he has had to live in exile for almost sixty years! On the left is the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama's rightful home. It is a magnificent structure and, until the Eifel Tower was built, it was the tallest building in the world. When I studied the quilt I saw she had put in two versions of the Potala and I don't blame her. It's a building I stood and studied for a very long time, from different sides. Inside it is even more awesome, full of treasures (possibly some have been stolen but the maze of the nearly 1000 rooms is stunning.
It was a shame that this large quilt with the faces individually drawn by the quilter, was hung in a spot with insufficient light. I can't blame the many people who were standing in front of it in awe of the workmanship and not quite comprehending the many symbolic features of it. I wish I could have gotten a better photo. The flag in the center of the lower border is the Tibetan national flag. When the Chinese Army invaded in 1959 they were invading a sovereign state although they claimed it was part of China (as it had been at times in the past). Today the country and especially Lhasa, its capital, has been turned into a Chinese city and the actual Tibetans are treated as second class citizens, jailed for the least praise of the Dalai Lama, rarely given good jobs. The independent herders in the countryside have been collectivized and made to live in towns and give up their way of life. During the period of the greatest repression, the Red Guard destroyed literally hundreds of monasteries, (ancient books have been lost forever) and hundreds of thousand of Tibetans were murdered.
Today the Chinese rulers think the Dalai Lama wants to foment a revolution. He has asked for years simply that the people be free to worship (as they are not - they can be jailed for having pictures of him). He does not want to fight the Chinese, he simply wants the people to be treated as the full citizens in their homeland with religious freedom. But that is routinely denied. Last year there were over 100 self-immolations by desperate Tibetans making a statement about the extent of their repression. I am enormously happy to see that someone is making a statement in our art form (quilting) and showing the people in their native costumes. I hope this quilt has raised the undestanding and/or awareness of at least a few more people. I will add a couple of details from the quilt so you can see the work better.