Home Features Thangka depicts life and teachings of Buddha
August 14, 2019

Thangka depicts life and teachings of Buddha

  • Urgen Tamang

Thangka means a Tibetan Buddhist painting done on cotton or silk applique. The thangka paintings usually depict the Buddhist deities, scenes or mandala.

The themes related to history, culture, social life are generally depicted in a painting. Thangka painting can be done in various sizes and kept rolled up until asked to display.

Most of the Thangka paintings show the life and teachings of Buddha accompanied by other smaller figures of deities and wheel of Life. Thangkas started coming into forms alongside the wall paintings in the Tibetan monasteries.

Thangka painting was introduced in Nepal in the 14th century which profusely influenced the Tibetan art of painting Thangka. The poses of Shiva and Shakti are demonstrated in the conventional form of art including a display of deities like Mahakala, Manjushri, and Lokeshwara.

Newari Thangkas or Paubhas are the part and parcel of Kathmandu valley since the 13th century.


The original Thangka paintings are finished with gold. So, they are priced high. It is said that using minerals in the painting give life to the painting.

It usually takes a long duration to complete a thangka. The eyes are done at last as they are believed to be the way to the soul.  Once the eyes are finished in the paintings, the objects are transformed from an object to being alive.

Each of the thangka paintings is made to pass through a long ceremony of chanting various mantras relating to the deities or gods depicted in the thangka. The more one pleases the deity or god depicted in the thangka, the more powerful the thangka will be.

A normal thangka of a very smaller size may cost you hardly 500 rupees. But the value of traditional thangka may depend upon its use of gold and length of thangka also.  Sometimes the thangka may be priceless due to the significance of deity and gods depicted in the art. So, such thangkas may cost from 1000 dollars to 15000 dollars too. Not only Buddhist people but non-Buddhist people are also the lovers of thangka paintings.

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