Saturday Sep 30, 2023
Saturday Sep 30, 2023

Visual story of ancient Thangka Paintings

2022 Feb 18, 14:41, Kathmandu
Life of the Buddha The main events of the Buddha's life are well known. He was born Siddhartha Gautama of the Shaka clan. He is said to have had a miraculous birth, precocious childhood, and a princely upbringing. He married and had a son. Photo: Bidyash Dangol/NepalNews

A thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton with silk appliqué, usually representing a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. When not in use, thangkas are usually preserved unframed and rolled up, mounted on a textile backing in the style of Chinese scroll paintings, with a front silk cover.

Thangkas can survive a long time if properly cared for, but due to their fragile nature, they must be stored in dry areas where moisture will not impair the silk's quality. The majority of thangkas were created for personal meditation or to teach monastic students. They frequently contain intricate compositions with a large number of very few figures.

In asymmetrical composition, a central god is frequently surrounded by several identifiable figures. Narrative scenes are rare, but they do appear. Thangka is used for a variety of purposes. When illustrating the life (or lives) of the Buddha, describing historical events involving major Lamas, or retelling mythology linked with other deities, images of deities can be employed as teaching tools.

Devotional images serve as the focal point of a ritual or celebration, and they are frequently utilized to give prayers or make requests. Overall, and probably most crucially, religious art is employed as a tool for meditation to assist one progress along the path to enlightenment. By envisioning "themselves as being that deity, so internalizing the Buddha attributes," the Buddhist Vajrayana practitioner uses a thanka image of their yidam, or meditation deity, as a guide. Tangkas are hanging on or near altars, as well as in monks' and other devotees' apartments and offices.

Tibetan thangka Vajrapani
Tibetan thangka Vajrapani
Om Mandala Thangka Painting
Om Mandala Thangka Painting
Sunil Shahi owner of Thanka Painting shop
Sunil Shahi owner of Thanka Painting shop

Sunil Shahi, who is the owner of the thangka painting shop, said they have been selling thangka for 40 years in their previous place but due to COVID-19, they had to leave that shop and have re-opened in Basantapur. He even mentions that many of the thangka paintings are plated with gold.

Kalachakra mandala coated with gold
Kalachakra mandala coated with gold


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