The Tibet Museum located in the quaint town of Gruyères in Switzerland is a hidden gem. The town known for its delectable cheese, stunning landscapes and fairy tale vibes is home to this unique museum which forms for an engaging visit. Situated within the old town, the Tibet museum is a distinctive attraction considering the fact that Switzerland is primarily a Christian country with a majority of the population being either Roman Catholic or Protestant.
Founded by the Alain Bordier Foundation, the Tibet museum was opened in 2009. A passionate collector, Alain Bordier has personally curated the collection at the museum which is the result of his hard work from the last 25-30 years. Having visited India several times, Bordier visited Ladakh (also called Little Tibet) during the 1980s which proved to be a turning point in his life. Propelled by an inner force, he developed a keen interest for Buddhist art and philosophy and immersed himself in researching on the subject starting with Buddhist sculptures and paintings.
With Buddhism having a profound influence on his life he undertook several expeditions to Tibet visiting temples and monasteries. Almost all the objects collected by him have a ritualistic significance and have been made in Tibet and the surrounding countries including India and Nepal.
The exhibits in the museum include paintings, sculptures, drawings, religious and ritualistic instruments dating from the 6th to the 18th century. While many of them belong to Tibet, some of them are from other Himalayan regions like India, Nepal and Burma. The statues on display are made from varying materials like brass, copper and wood. Some of them also have silver inlaid work. The exquisite wooden statue of ‘Mahasri Tara’ with a blissful expression and hands depicted in the position of ‘Dharmachakra mudra‘ is a picture of serenity. The painting on the intricately carved wood is both ornate and stunning. The other statues of the eighth Karmapa, the Mahakala (or the Great Black One) and Vajrayogini are noteworthy and insightful.
The collection of objects includes daggers, prayer bells, conch shells, lamps and prayer beads. There are Gawu boxes too apart from the Vajra (Dorje) which is arguably the most important symbol in Tibetan Buddhism. It is symbolic of innate strength akin to a diamond and the power of enlightenment like the impact of the thunderbolt.