What is Thangka?

Thangka is a non-legacy work of art in our Tibetan culture. Why can Thangka be widely spread and recognized? Because she is a religious and perfect work of art. Thangka is a unique form of traditional Tibetan painting art in China. Her name is based on the English translation of Tibetan. Thangka is a flat and vast space, and Tibetans in the Tang Dynasty called this vast place a grass garden. For example, there is a famous Sangke grassland near Labrang Temple in Gannan, Gansu province, which Tibetans call Sangketang. It means to color white space, because Thangka mainly paints Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, Tibetans interpret Thangka as a flat Buddha, representing the vastness of Buddha and boundless wisdom of Buddhism. This is the literal meaning of Thangka, while Tibetans are nomads, so they can't go to the temple to worship Buddha while grazing. They take out Thangka and pay homage to the Buddha statue in the picture scroll. 

Thanks also has an alias named Walking Temple among Tibetans. You can understand the significance of a temple to practitioners by listening to this name.

It is recorded in the book Buddha statue of Sakyamuni, Crystal Mirror that bTsan Po and Khri Srong bTsan of the 32nd generation of Tubo painted a statue of the auspicious goddess dpal-ldan-lha-mo with their nosebleeds. Chubawan was seen by Guo Zhuxi for a long time, and this painting was placed in the Buddha statue as a hidden content. However, the word Thangka does not appear in this story, so there are not many records about the painting and materials, which can be regarded as a Thangka legend. According to the Tibetan classic dba 'bzhed in 12th century AD, the mulberry leaf temple, the first Tibetan Buddhist temple established in Shannan, Tibet in the 8th century AD, has 79 existing Buddha statues, 14 ministerial portraits, 36 gates, and large silk Thangka. Thirdly, this is the earliest record of Thangka. Now we can see that Thangka's works were painted in 836 AD. Now, the Buddhist paintings of Dunhuang Sutra Cave and the Medicine Buddha are in the British Museum. The composition color of this work is very similar to that of Thangka today. As a Tibetan portrait with mysterious color and historical witness, he has a stronger sense of human value. Her heavy historical background doomed him to be different from other Tibetan literary plays, but this is only one of the reasons why Thangka was widely circulated. Another reason is that his pictures are beautiful, though the beauty is obvious.

In fact, Thangka itself is very particular about its production technology, and the technology is very complicated. It takes a lot of effort to draw lines and gold. A good painting usually takes months or even years, so each Thangka embodies the blood and sweat of the painter. Before painting Thangka, the painter chooses to bathe in festivals, burn incense and pray for blessings, recite sutras and prepare ingredients. What materials have been prepared? We say that Thangka is a unique painting art in Tibetan culture. Naturally, it is necessary to use materials different from ordinary paintings. All the materials used in Thangka come from natural mineral treasures of nature and are coated with plant powder, thus drawing a bright and colorful world of Buddha. Precious mineral gems such as gold, silver, pearl agate, coral, turquoise, malachite and cinnabar, as well as animals and plants such as saffron, rhubarb and blue ingot, are all pigments used in Thangka paintings. The raw materials are more precious, so Thangka is more expensive. What's more, Thangka carries a sense of history, which makes it attached with the attribute of cultural relics. However, these certificates are bound to have a high value orientation. Whether ancient or contemporary, the birth of a pair of hand-painted Thangka is not so simple, so its value is also affected by the small production quantity. In addition, the only feature that distinguishes Thangka from other Tibetan languages is its rich regional customs and unique aesthetic values.

Thangka painting itself is also a kind of practice method. Therefore, when we meditate on Thangka, we should not only feel the prosperity, the gorgeous colors and delicate brushwork of Thangka pictures, but also pay attention to its connotation. What kind of pigment can be used to make the picture vivid and beautiful, and at the same time, it can keep the picture long? Faced with this question, how did the ancients make a choice and read Thangka? The history of experiencing culture. That's what we are attached to Thangka for. We should always believe that what our predecessors left us is not only material wealth, but also more valuable spiritual wisdom! 

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