Articles About Tibetan Thangka Painting - index:

An Introduction to Tibetan Thangka Painting

What is a Thangka?

Female Deities In Tibetan Buddhism

Green Tara and the Twenty-one Taras

The Mandala And Its Symbolism

Wrathful Deities of the Tibetan Buddhist Pantheon

The Wheel Of Life

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What is a Thangka?

- The word "Thangka", referring to a traditional Tibetan buddhist painting, means literally a "recorded message" because it contains a wealth of symbolism relating to the buddhist path. The images are seen as living manifestations of deities and spiritual energies and they can therefore transmit the consciousness of a deity directly through forms and colours, as well as their symbolic content. Through inner Tantric practice associated with certain deities, inner energies can be awakened, balanced and integrated in the practitioner. Thangkas are often commissioned and/or gifted for the purpose of asking for spiritual help and protection for oneself or others.

The canvas is prepared in a special way to allow the painting to be rolled like a scroll without damage to the painted surface, making it easier to transport safely. Pure gold is often used to decorate the paintings and is commonly regarded as an offering to the deity. The pure gold can be polished to create a magical effect on the finished artwork.

The Thangka paintings can be framed in different ways:

1. Traditional silk brocade material, in red, yellow and blue (representing a rainbow) is sewn to a standard pattern in proportion to the size of the painting. There is often a yellow silk cover for the Thangka and occasionally a "door", which is a square of material sewn to the lower panel of the brocade frame, and there are two red ribbons which hang down each side of the painting to convey the blessing of the deity. Sticks are sewn into the top and bottom edges for strength and the lower stick often has decorative metal weights (called "Thang-Tok") at each end to hold the Thangka flat when it is displayed.
2. A simpler version of the brocade frame may consist of a single piece of coloured or decorative material sewn around the painting and has sticks sewn in at the top and bottom (with decorative weights) to form a scroll as above.
3. Wooden frames (with or without glass) are also used, which look especially good with the Mandala paintings.

by Peter "Zotec" Newman, Cumbria, England ©2002-2009

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All articles © Zotec 2002-2009