Thangka painting is a unique art from the Himalayan region of Tibet,Nepal, China and Kashmir

In Nepal there are Tibetan style and Newari style paintings, with some having a Hindu theme, some Buddhist and others regional styles and themes. There is even a Christian thangka called, ‘The Life of Jesus.’ Thangkas, or thankas, are an original art form that dates back to the 7th century AD known for their intriquete paint strokes so detailed one painting can take several months to complete.

Thangka painting is just one of the many cottage industry types in Nepal and pays much better than many professions when the person does not speak English. It serves today to keep men in the rural villages in Nepal as most either go to Kathmandu or abroad to find work. Often, the artist will take the item to Kathmandu after it’s completed.

 

Even while the artist is painting the mood of the thangka permeates the room. Such tranquility is felt even by the tourist who wants to study this art form for a short time. The details are so concise, so precise, yet each thangka reflects the individual style and detail of the artist.

Thangkas serve as an object of devotion for many Buddhist and Hindu devotees, and a special focus of meditation and prayer. The energy and tranquility a hand painted thangka provides to a room is incredible.

Times are changing and the fast paced world is catching up to people in the Himalayas and this ancient, spiritual tradition is becoming more and more rare. It’s ever so important to keep this tradition alive, to preserve this pure spirituality.

Many of the thangka painting themes reflect epic stories from the ancient, sacred scriptures with the gods in such vivid color they almost come alive. The stories captured in just one thangka can take an hour or more to recount.

The Sunapati Thanka Painting School in Changunarayan Village is one such establishment. Although registered as a school with most of the students being taught on a schalarship, this school does not solicit funding from the outside for its normal dealings. It is enough to do things in this time-honored tradition of work-study apprenticeships and devotion.

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