Thangka is strictly iconographic, explicitly religious, overflowing with symbolism and allegory. Nothing is arbitrary, each image and every color in every composition is chosen carefully by the artist - Dharma Studio

ABOUT THANGKA ART

This art form originated in Nepal, and was brought to Tibet around the 7th
century. The traditions established early on have been upheld. Thangka is
strictly iconographic, explicitly religious, overflowing with symbolism and
allegory. Nothing is arbitrary, each image and every color in every composition
is chosen carefully by the artist. Each piece is created as a tool for meditation,
often portraying the life of the Buddha, influential lamas, deities and
bodhisattvas destined for enlightenment. All images and symbols exemplify
the essence of Buddha; traditional thangka art is an homage to Buddhist
culture, and the compositions are highly geometric and reverential. Bodies,
facial features, gestures, animals, nature and ritualistic paraphernalia are
all depicted on a grid of angles and intersecting lines, as is the empty space
between objects. Thankga art is an offering of sorts, a manifestation of
divinity created to stimulate the eye, the mind and the heart. Thangka can
be devotional and instructional tools, depicting legendary moments in the lives
of Buddha or other important Lamas, or in the retelling of myth in general.
Used during ceremony, these stories told on canvas can provide a focal point
through which prayers or requests may be made. The images portrayed in
thangka art are created as devotional aids to guide the viewer farther up the
path to enlightenment. Contemporary Thangka art highlights the distinctiveness
of Tibetan identity in exile, often reinterpreting traditional Buddhist
iconography, requesting a closer look at hardline Chinese policies which
stifle the freedom to express artistic creativity and to celebrate the religious
heritage of Tibet.