Known for its complex iconography, bright colors and striking depictions of Buddhist deities, tantric art is both mystifying and alluring.

The sacred artworks of the Tibetan tantric tradition feature systems of imagery meant to represent both the Buddhist teachings and the cosmos as a whole. Traditionally, tantric art is not only an expression of the dharma, but also an aid in spiritual practice and a vehicle for awakening. 

So what exactly is tantric art, and how is it used in ritual and meditation? As modern practitioners, how can we understand and engage with tantric artworks? 

On July 28, Jeff Watt, a leading scholar of Himalayan art and founding curator of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, joins Tricycle for a virtual event exploring the sacred art of the tantric tradition. In conversation with Tricycle’s editor-in-chief James Shaheen, he will consider the history, iconography and ritual use of tantric art, and will offer an analysis and interpretation of several key works. 

This hour-long Zoom event is free for Tricycle premium subscribers and $10 for general admission. Subscribe to Premium or upgrade your existing subscription for free access.


Jeff Watt

Jeff Watt, one of the leading scholars of Himalayan art, acquired his prodigious knowledge of Buddhist, Bon and Hindu iconography from a longtime study of Buddhism and Tantra. As a teenager, he studied with Dezhung Rinpoche and Sakya Trizin, dropping out of school at 17 to take monastic vows from the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. For the next 11 years, Watt trained intensively in India, Canada and the U.S., with teachers such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, and Sakya Jetsun Chimey.

He is the Director and Chief Curator of Himalayan Art Resources, a website and ‘virtual museum’ featuring upwards of 100,000 images with detailed descriptions. He was the founding Curator and leading scholar, from 1999 to 2007, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, which houses one of the largest collections of Himalayan and Tibetan art in North America.

James Shaheen Headshot

James Shaheen

James Shaheen, Tricycle’s Editor-in-Chief, began his Buddhist practice in the mid-1990s, studying with teachers from a number of Buddhist traditions. He is particularly interested in Buddhism’s growth in the West and its applicability to Western politics, culture, and everyday life. He has been with Tricycle for nearly 25 years.


  • Date: July 28, 2022
  • Time: 4-5pm EST
  • Format: Live virtual webinar on Zoom
  • Price: Donation-based