The art of Thanka painting is very old and was practiced as early as 3rd century B.C. in Nepal and Tibet. The word \”Thangka\” is believed to have come from the Tibetan word \”thang yig\” meaning a written record. These scared painting known as Pauvha in Nepali and Newari and Thangka in Tibetan are paraphernalia of Buddhist and Hindus experience God jotting them down in form of art in the canvas. These paintings generally represent Buddhist and Hindu Gods, Goddesses, meditating Buddha and His life cycle, wheel of Life, Mandala, Bhairab, Manjushree, Green Tara etc.
Thangka painting is a uniquely Tibetan tradition that evolved between the 7th and 12th centuries in Tibet. Painted on canvas and mounted in silk brocade, a thangka is more than just a work of art. It is an object of devotion, an aid to spiritual practice, and a source of blessings. Thangka painting is strictly governed by iconographic rules. From the canvas preparation and drawing of the subject, through to mixing and applying colors, decorating with gold, and mounting the finished work in brocade, the creation of a thangka painting involves skill and care at each stage and displays meticulous detail and exquisite artisanship.
Thangkas are believed to create positive influences in their surroundings. Its brilliant colors and forms awaken the mind and energize consciousness; its images stimulate capacities for visualization and nourish the heart. It is said that just the act of looking at a thangka is in itself a good deed. By meditating on such objects, one can train and gain an understanding of certain types of awareness that the specific image portrays. Another reason for commissioning a thangka painting may be to bring about good health, prosperity or long life.
There are six basic steps followed in thangka painting-
1. Stretching the canvas on a wooden frame
2. Preparing the painting surface
3. Creating the design or composition by sketching and tracing
4. Laying down the initial coats of paint
5. The principal application of paints of color pigments, silver and gold dust
6. Adding the finishing touches.