Four Calligraphies from the 1973 Seminary

Many of Trungpa Rinpoche's students have original CTR calligraphies framed and displayed in their homes. Rinpoche often called for paper, ink and brush to mark birthdays or weddings, or to commemorate important events. Here is Abbie Halpern's story about four such works by the prolific Chögyam Trungpa. Do you own an original calligraphy by Rinpoche? Send us a photo and tell us the story of how it came to be.

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The four calligraphies shown below were executed on November 23, 1973 during the first Vajradhatu seminary, just two days before the first Vajrayana teachings that Rinpoche gave in North America. Abbie Halpern and her partner were married during the program. On the eve of their wedding, Rinpoche invited the couple and their parents, who were visiting from New York, to dinner at his private residence. These calligraphies were executed during the evening. Here is Abbie’s account.

The dinner conversation was dynamic, cheerful and friendly and at some point moved on to Tibetan iconography. My father was a professional cartoonist and an ardent lover of all forms of artistic expression. When he learned that Rinpoche was an artist, he said, “I would love to see some of your work.” In response, Rinpoche quietly sent my fiancé out to search for calligraphy materials. He came back an hour later with Japanese sumi, stone, brushes and high quality watercolor paper.

After dinner we gathered in the living room and Rinpoche proceeded to execute these calligraphies, leaning over the coffee table. No one spoke, and no one asked him the meaning of these pieces. I remember every stroke, and his smile.

When he finished, Rinpoched put down his brush and offered the calligraphies as a gift to my father, who was very much delighted. He took the calligraphies home to New York, where they would undergo a strange journey. First they were stolen, then they were retrieved, and eventually they were passing on to me. Fortunately, they were still in good shape when I received them in 1978 and they have been well cared for since. I consider them to be important relics from a potent moment in the proclamation of dharma in the West, and a delightful glimpse into Rinpoche’s mind.

This abstract calligraphy was used in the cover of TRUE PERCEPTION, THE PATH OF DHARMA ART BY CHOGYAM TRUNGPA. Original calligraphy by Chogyam Trungpa, © 2020 by Diana J. Mukpo. Used here by arrangement with Diana J. Mukpo. All rights reserved.

 

HO. Original calligraphy by Chogyam Trungpa, © 2020 by Diana J. Mukpo. Used here by arrangement with Diana J. Mukpo. All rights reserved.

 

Original calligraphy by Chogyam Trungpa, © 2020 by Diana J. Mukpo. Used here by arrangement with Diana J. Mukpo. All rights reserved.

 

Original calligraphy by Chogyam Trungpa, © 2020 by Diana J. Mukpo. Used here by arrangement with Diana J. Mukpo. All rights reserved.
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