Tsongkhapa - A Great Tibetan Buddhist Scholar Monk and Reformer of Tibetan Buddhism

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Tsongkhapa’s name means Man from Onion Valley (Tsongkha). He was a renowned spiritual teacher in Tibetan Buddhism and is the founder of one of the dominant sects in the tradition, the Gelug school. He was well versed in the teachings of all Tibetan Buddhist schools and also received lineages from some of the major schools, too. However, he drew major inspiration from the Kadampa school, especially of Atisa. His main teachings include the union of Sutra and Tantra, as well the emphasis on the morality of discipline (Vinaya).

Tsongkhapa was born in 1357. He is usually portrayed wearing a pointed hat as seen in this thangka. He is showin in a sitting position atop a lotus throne. The lotus throne is full of pink blooms which is also the color of lotus reserved for the highest of deities. He is wearing three monk’s robes in blue, green, and orange. On his hands are lotus stems each flower is raised at the level of his ears. The lotus on his right side also carries the flaming sword of Manjushri, symbolic to cutting down ignorance and duality. The flame signifies the tool to ward off darkness caused by such duality. Meanwhile, to his left is another lotus which carries a scared scripture, the Perfect of Wisdom with 8,000 lines, as a sign of enlightenment wisdom. There are also offerings for the deity near the bottom of the thangka. The mountain ranges represent the Himalayas, too.

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Item Code: TX75
Tibetan Thangka Painting
Dimensions Size of Painted Surface 15.0 inch X 21.0 inch
Size with Brocade 24.0 inch X 37.0 inch
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100% Made in India
100% Made in India
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How are Thangkas made?

A Thangka is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist painting that usually depicts a Buddhist Deity (Buddha or Bodhisattva), a scene, or a mandala. These paintings are considered important paraphernalia in Buddhist rituals. They are used to teach the life of the Buddha, various lamas, and Bodhisattvas to the monastic students, and are also useful in visualizing the deity while meditating. One of the most important subjects of thangkas is the Bhavacakra (the wheel of life) which depicts the Art of Enlightenment. It is believed that Thangka paintings were developed over the centuries from the murals, of which only a few can be seen in the Ajanta caves in India and the Mogao caves in Gansu Province, Tibet.

Thangkas are painted on cotton or silk applique and are usually small in size. The artist of these paintings is highly trained and has a proper understanding of Buddhist philosophy, knowledge, and background to create a realistic and bona fide painting.
The process of making a thangka begins with stitching a loosely woven cotton fabric onto a wooden frame. Traditionally, the canvas was prepared by coating it with gesso, chalk, and base pigment. Image
After this, the outline of the form of the deity is sketched with a pencil or charcoal onto the canvas using iconographic grids. The drawing process is followed in accordance with strict guidelines laid out in Buddhist scriptures. The systematic grid helps the artist to make a geometrical and professional painting. When the drawing of the figures is finalized and adjusted, it is then outlined with black ink. Image
Earlier, a special paint of different colors was made by mixing powdered forms of organic (vegetable) and mineral pigments in a water-soluble adhesive. Nowadays, artists use acrylic paints instead. The colors are now applied to the sketch using the wet and dry brush techniques. One of the characteristic features of a thangka is the use of vibrant colors such as red, blue, black, green, yellow, etc. Image
In the final step, pure gold is coated over some parts of the thangka to increase its beauty. Due to this beautification, thangkas are much more expensive and also stand out from other ordinary paintings. Image
Thangka paintings are generally kept unrolled when not on display on the wall. They also come with a frame, a silken cover in front, and a textile backing to protect the painting from getting damaged. Because Thangkas are delicate in nature, they are recommended to be kept in places with no excess moisture and where there is not much exposure to sunlight. This makes them last a long time without their colors fading away. Painting a thangka is an elaborate and complex process and requires excellent skills. A skilled artist can take up to 6 months to complete a detailed thangka painting. In earlier times, thangka painters were lamas that spent many years on Buddhist studies before they painted.
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