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What is Thangka?
A "Thangka, Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, famous scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil or acrylic painting. Rather, it consists of a picture panel which is painted or embroidered, over which a textile is mounted, and then over which is laid a cover, usually silk. Generally, thankgas last a very long time and retain much of their lustre, but because of their delicate nature, they have to be kept in dry places where moisture won't affect the quality of the silk. It is sometimes called a scroll-painting.
Originally, thangka painting became popular among traveling monks because the scroll paintings were easily rolled and transported from monastery to monastery. These thangka served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas. One popular subject is The Wheel of Life, which is a visual representation of the Abhidharma teachings (Art of Enlightenment).
To Buddhists these Tibetan religious paintings offer a beautiful manifestation of the divine, being both visually and mentally stimulating.
Thangka, when created properly, perform several different functions. Images of deities can be used as teaching tools when depicting the life (or lives) of the Buddha, describing historical events concerning important Lamas, or retelling myths associated with other deities. Devotional images act as the centerpiece during a ritual or ceremony and are often used as mediums through which one can offer prayers or make requests. Overall, and perhaps most importantly, religious art is used as a meditation tool to help bring one further down the path to enlightenment. The Buddhist Vajrayana practitioner uses a thanga image of their yidam, or meditation deity, as a guide, by visualizing “themselves as being that deity, thereby internalizing the Buddha qualities (Lipton, Ragnubs).”

Importance of Thangka
Thangka has been getting popular ever since the Buddhism rooted in Tibet and the tradition of depicting Thangkas have been prevalent around in the area where Buddhism spread. It was about 10th century meanwhile Tantric Buddhism was gradually being developed in Tibet. The tradition of Thangka Painting was just outset in Tibet and now is not confined only within Tibet and Tibetan community but those who adopted the Tibetan Buddhism learnt this art so as Tamangs Sherpas, Thakalis Yolmos, Manangeys and Newars are the instances.

Most of the Thangka viewers simply think that Thangka is an art of the Buddhist monks other else nothing but the Buddhism scholar of higher intellectuality reveres it with entire homage considering mystic power of Lamaistic deities. In accordance with religious culture, the Thangka to be kept at the worship room sanctifies with holy water muttering use to bow his/her head before it at the time of worship specialty in the morning time.
Almost people never consider the Thangka as an object of decoration. By worship of Tara (Dolma) goddess results lucrative for the business and as well as the wrathful diety Dharmapala protect from the hazardous.

Thangka Painting making steps.
A Thangka painting can be complete in six different steps. The beginning starts from preparation of the Painting Surface. A piece of cotton cloth of slightly open weave is stitched on to a narrow wooden frame along all its four sides. This lightly framed cotton is then tightly stretched over a larger wooden frame or stretcher with a stout thread by a system of crisscross lacing. After setting up the cloth in the frame it is treated from both the front and back with a thin layer of gesso, which is made up of glue and zinc oxide. The canvas is then burnished on both sides with a stone or conch shell to produce a smooth and lustrous surface. The next step of the painting is drawing. A right drawing on the tightly stretched cotton a central perpendicular, two diagonals, a horizontal and four outer borders. Now with charcoal or graphite the rough drawing of the deity in full accordance with the canonical proportions is delineated before sketching different parts of the composition. Third step is Application of Color. Color is more than a visual proposition in Sacred Buddhist Painting. The five basic colors white, yellow, red, black and green have different symbolic meanings. Black symbolizes killing and anger, white denotes rest and repose, yellow stands for restraint and nourishment, red is indicative of subjugation while green is the known hue of exorcising practices. Once 3rd step is complete than 4th step of painting start from Shading and Color Gradations. After laying the initial coats of flat color the painter proceeds to apply thin coats of dyes diluted in water. Shading in Tibetan Thangkas is always done to add effects of volume and dimension to the form be it a human figure, an anthropomorphic image of some deity or clouds, water, flames, rocks, flowers, curtains, seats, etc. Cast shadows and highlights are unknown aspects of the pictorial imagery of the Thangka. Out lining is the 5th step of a Thangka Painting. In an essentially linear pictorial expression like the Thangka, the art of outlining plays a significant role. The last step of this art is finishing detail where facial features are finished and the eyes of the deities are painted. For this 'eye opening' an elaborate consecration ritual on an auspicious full moon day is fixed and only after the vivification ritual does the painter complete the eyes in swift sure strokes.


Sub-Categories Under Thangkas

Thangka Paintings

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Thangka Border/Silk Lining

Antique Looks Thangkas

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