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about an Exhibition:  of Rare Thankas from Leh Digital Images

            In the cool weeks of February IGNCA played host to rare thankas, so rare that they are out of Leh for the first time.  Thankas are Buddhist paintings, made by Lamas and worshipped by all Buddhists.  Thankas are also permanently hung in the corridors of monasteries or sometimes carried by devotees in religious processions.  The work thanks in Tibetan means anything that is rolled up.  The other name rasbris or rasrimo, rather uncommon, which means, 'cotton' or rasbris which signifies design on cotton, the emphasis being on the material used.  The world of thanks provides clue to the ritualistic, social, historical, iconographic, philosophic and astrological beliefs of the people of Tibet.

            Thankas are colourful paintings made on coarse linen cloth.  The thick cloth-canvas is prepared with a mixture of glue and lime and is polished with shell.  The base thus prepared is made ready for painting.  The outlines of the figures are first traced in charcoal and strengthened with Chinese black or red ink.  The Lamas who are already familiar with the book description of Buddha and other deities draw the outline in a paper first, in accordance with precise prescribed measurements.  Once this line drawing is approved it is copies on the cloth.  The drawing starts from the head and moves downward.  It takes about 6-7 years of training to be able to paint thankas.  And in the initial years, junior lamas work under the supervision of experts.  The back of the painting, contains invocatory mantras, the Buddhist religious formula and sometimes stupa design and auspicious handprints of a lama.  After the completion of the thanka, pranapratistha (consecration ceremony) is performed.  Then the thanks becomes fit for worship.  Some of the thankas on display at the exhibition had become dark and dull because of constant burning of lamps and incense in front of them the thankas are the manifestations of the religious tenets and teachings.  They depict the esoteric symbols of Vajrayan.  Mantrayam, Kalacakrayana.  Buddha, Bodhisattvas and several other deities.

Reviews by Kumar Sanjay Jha, Kala Darsana

about an Exhibition:  of Rare Thankas from Leh Digital Images


Articles by Kumar Sanjay Jha

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