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iXiGOers Jun 27 2013

How are Thangka Paintings made and where can they be bought from?

Reema Bhalla Jun 27 2013
3 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Hand-painted on silk or cotton fabric using bright colours, Thangka is a form of Tibetan artwork that depicts various facets of Buddhism such as the Wheel of Life, Mandala, Tibetan Buddhist deities, Tibetan calendar, astronomy, etc. It is very popular in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.

The word Thangka originates from the Tibetan word ‘thang yig’ which means a written record. True to its name, it is rich in information about the spiritual practice of Buddhists and the Tibetan world view. Thangkas aren’t just used as wall decorations. They also hold significant religious value for the Lamas and are regarded as objects of devotion and aids to spiritual practise.

Thangka art is believed to have originated in Nepal in the 11th century CE when Buddhists and Hindus began to illustrate deities and Buddhist narratives. Earlier works reflect a strong Tibetan and Chinese influence in the paintings.

Apart from paintings, Thangkas are also made by weaving with multi coloured silk threads. Each process is very intricate. In case of painting, the white cloth is first mounted on a frame and water-based colloid chalk is applied to it. A thorough polish with talc, when dried, makes the canvas ready for brush strokes. The silk-woven Thangka has a warp of brocade and jacquard weaving with coloured silk threads as the weft. Embossed embroidery is a method that uses appliqué wherein human figures and designs are cut out of coloured satin cloth and glued onto the canvas. Tapestry Thangka is woven with the method of complete warps and broken wefts — the warp serves as the base and the weft appears only where the picture or design needs it. The ‘hollowed out’ work produces a three dimensional effect.

Some Thangkas are also decorated with pearls and precious stones are attached to the fabric with gold thread The intricate workmanship required for creating a Thangka comes from years of rigorous practice. One needs to learn to sketch using precise grids, master techniques of grinding and applying the mineral colours and pure gold used in the paintings, learn religious texts and scriptures that form an integral part of Thangka creations.

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