Thangkas are a style of painting that originated in the regions of Nepal and Tibet around the 10th century to serve several different needs in Buddhism. Images of deities were used as teaching tools to tell the story of the life of the Buddha, or to describe events and stories of historical figures such as great teachers and saints, or illustrate myths associated with deities. Some of the paintings were also used as devotional images during initiation into specific Buddhist practices. Sometimes they were aids in a monks’ work to remember a complex visualization. Images of deities were often used as mediums through which one could offer prayers or make requests. Thangkas are religious art, and when used as such can be a tool to help bring one further onto the path towards enlightenment. Thangkas were used to inspire and uplift the viewer, like art created in every culture throughout the centuries.
They were painted so that they could be rolled up for storage and transportation, hence their name, as thankga” means “rolled scroll” in Tibetan. The word “thangka” has many spellings – Thankga , tangka tangkha , Paubha – depending on the time and person translating the word. Paintings were done with gouache – a coarser grind form of watercolor paint, mineral paints – rocks and gems ground and mixed with a medium, and gold. They were and are an amalgamation of several cultures, which illustrates where the art form came from, as Buddhism originated in India and then moved north into Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and the rest of asia. The paintings use the form of Nepalese deity structure , Indian Jewelry and clothing, and often Chinese landscape elements and floral motifs from classical Chinese painting styles.
I also paint Hindu deities in the traditional style of Indian miniature painting.
High quality giclee prints of my thangka paintings, printed on heavyweight archival watercolorist’s paper, with archival ink, may be purchased at Etsy.com