Threads of Awakening

Threads of Awakening

An American Woman’s Journey into Tibet’s Sacred Textile Art

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo


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What if you set out to travel the world and got sidetracked in a Himalayan sewing workshop? What if that sidetrack turned out to be your life’s path—your way home?

Part art book, part memoir, part spiritual travelogue, Threads of Awakening is a delightful and inspiring blend of adventure and introspection. Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo shares her experience as a California woman traveling to the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India to manage an economic development fund, only to wind up sewing pictures of Buddha instead. Through her remarkable journey, she discovered that a path is made by walking it—and that some of the best paths are made by walking off course. 

For more than 500 years, Tibetans have been creating sacred images from pieces of silk. Much rarer than paintings and sculptures, these stitched fabric thangkas are among Tibet's finest artworks. Leslie studied this little-known textile art with two of its brightest living masters and let herself discover where curiosity and devotion can lead. In this book, she reveals the unique stitches of an ancient needlework tradition, introduces the Buddhist deities it depicts, and shares insights into the compassion, interdependence, and possibility they embody. 

Includes 49 full-color photos and a foreword by the Dalai Lama.


Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo:
Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo is a textile artist, teacher, and author. Curiosity carried her from California to India, where she became one of few non-Tibetans to master the Buddhist art of silk appliqué thangka. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally and featured in magazines such as Spirituality & Health, FiberArts, and Fiber Art Now and in the documentary, Creating Buddhas: The Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas. To share the gift of Tibetan appliqué with stitchers around the globe, she created the Stitching Buddhas virtual apprentice program, an online, hands-on course that bridges East and West, traditional and contemporary. After two decades abroad, Leslie returned to her native Southern California, where she now lives with three cats and enough fabric to last several lifetimes.