They carry the seed syllable Hung - symbol of Padmasambhava and Yeshé Tsogyel. On Friday night Ngak'chang Rinpoche explained how the tulip bulb brushes are manipulated in order to create both very fine and very thick lines in a single brush stroke, as you can see in the sweeping curves of the Hung on the t-shirt:
Well, we had a select crowd at the talk. As far as I am aware this is the first time Ngak'chang Rinpoche has ever given a public talk on Tibetan Calligraphy. It was delightful to learn on the evening that one of the attendees who had come to Aro Ling via the online Membership programme was being accepted as an Apprentice. Another had been coming to Aro Ling for a year and asking about calligraphy. It did mean the evening was pretty Apprentice-heavy in terms of numbers, and I'm kicking myself a bit when looking back about the audience mix. As Yanni pointed out, people who want to learn about calligraphy aren't necessarily the same people who might be inclined to buy them as part of a charity fund raiser - worth bearing in mind for the future - but nonetheless the talk was great and there were loads of questions.
Also, Rinpoche has actually found a way to raise the funds for Drala Jong.
He explained that the last time he attempted to use calligraphies for fund raising was in about 1989, when Chhi'med Rig'dzin Rinpoche was visiting Britain, and had terrible toothache. The dental work required was going to cost £400, but Ngak'chang Rinpoche didn't have the money to give him. Instead he came up with the idea that he might draw calligraphy circles for Chhi'med Rig'dzin Rinpoche might write interesting things on, which could then be sold. In the end they sold for £800 (£1,700 in today's money) - covering the expenses and also a donation to Chhi'med Rig'dzin Rinpoche. At the end of it, Ngak'chang Rinpoche was able to keep just one of those calligraphies, for his toils. Rinpoche would be loathe to lose that work, but has said that for a good cause (the best of Nyingma causes) he would part with it. For £500,000. So, if you would like to own the last surviving piece of cooperative calligraphic art by Ngak'chang Rinpoche and his root teacher Chhi'med Rig'dzin Rinpoche, bids start at half a million pounds. . .
. . . or if that isn't quite what you and your bank manager had in mind, why not buy a t-shirt (above).