Thangka paintings

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Thangka Paintings are the finest painted pictures of Lord Buddha available on the earth. These paintings, traditionally executed on cloth, originated in Bihar in India. Thangka paintings are not only used in decoration -- they are also a medium to explain Buddha’s ideals. It is believed that looking at the Thangka art itself is worship.

History of Thangka Paintings

There is evidence that there were two famous rulers Utayana and Bimbisara who lived here.

Utatyana and Bimbisara were close friends. And they were in habit of exchanging the gifts from one another. Once in return of a gift from Utayana, Bimbisara thought of giving a painting of Buddha on cloth to Utayana. Bimbisara took consent from Buddha to have his portrait. And he sent artists to the Buddha to have his portrait. The artists started the painting the image of Buddha, they found a wonder of his beauties and they rendered themselves unable to paint his portrait. Buddha blessed an artist to have his clear picture in water and his likeness can be painted from reflection of his image in the water.

Artist followed the Buddha and this was the resultant paintings emerged after this wonderful episode. He was highly impressed and after completion of morning prayers and meditation, he found himself on the path of Buddha. This is said to be the origin of these paintings. Therefore, these paintings are known as water image of a saint.

There is another story relates origin of other painting called ray’s image of the saint. This story is based upon on Mahanama king of Kapilavastu. There was a maidservant in the palace, named Rohita with queen Mahanama. One day queen told Rohita to handover a jewel to Mahanama at far distance. While Rohita was on the way to handover the jewel to the king, a girl attacked her and Rohita was killed. She had utmost faith in the lord Buddha. She took re-birth as princess of Sri Lanka’s King. As a child she heard Buddha’s preaching. She followed the teaching of Buddha’s. One day, she got an image of lord Buddha with ‘rays of light’ in a letter sent by Lord Buddha. These images are known as ray’s image of a sage.

Tibetan paintings are derived from the principal artistic school in western and central India. These paintings are as old as 7th and 8th centuries. The artistic school was influenced throughout Central and Eastern part of India, part of Nepal and Tibet. Later this art spread in China and Central Asia.

After 10th century there was zoom in this art and artists from Kashmir led to Tibet for painting. For a long period Tibetan painting remain dominated in Nepal. Later Chinese influence in 18th century was felt and it was further explored to different countries. There were main three popular styles of Tibetan paintings developed and practiced at all over places. These are Menri, Mensar and Karma Gadri. These three styles influenced the Tibetan art and played an important part in developing of these Tibetan beautiful painting.

How Thangka Paintings Are Used

Thangka paintings are not only used in decoration but also as spiritual objects and are a medium to explain Buddha’s ideals. A practitioner can meditate on these art works. These painting are the objects of worship. It is believed that looking at the Thangka art itself is worship.

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when i I would love to understand Thangka motifs and what they really mean. Very often, one sees circular motifs running through a painting -- do they represent the Circle of Life? ... Read more inside