Tibetan Thangka Painting by a Japanese painter Yoji Nishi

Japanese version⇒


Art as a tool

Superbly painted in rich colors and exquisite details, from the long tradition of Himalayan region, the "Thangka painting" depicts the blissful worlds of Tibetan Buddhism. The world of the peaceful deities with the gaze of compassion and a gentle smile, or the wrathful deities with ferocious expression who spread their multiple arms amidst a mass of primordial wisdom fire. Thangka painting is not just an ornamental art as a decoration but a tool to convey deep iconographic information to assist the meditation of Buddhist practitioners.


Karma Gardri Style

Under the influence of ancient India, Nepal and China, many prominent artists in the history of Tibet have developed unique traditions of Tibetan Thangka painting. "Karma Gardri style" or "Encampment style" is one of these traditions developed in eastern Tibet in the 16th century. This style efficiently uses the contrast between pastel transparent background and the deities in rich strong colors. Together with another contrast, "space" and "detail", the traditional Thangkas of Karma Gardri style creates magnificent meditative images.


Technique and Materials

Creation of the smooth and fine canvas which doesn't prevent the precise brush stroke, tiny depiction of the deities according to the Ancient Buddhist texts with the suitable landscape and offerings for the peaceful, wrathful and semi-wrathful deities. To paint these celestial images, the colors used in the traditional Thangka painting come from many different natural sources. Mild and warm colors of earth, translucent and pure dyestuff, deep and luminous colors from semi-precious minerals and pure gold.


Thangka Painter

Besides the actual painting technique, Thangka painters are required to have a certain level of knowledge about Buddhist teachings as the details of the deities such as the proportions, stance, colors, facial expressions and attributes and so forth are compiled in the Buddhist texts. A Thangka painter depicts the deities strictly following the texts descriptions and creates the celestial world using his experience and imagination wherever he found his freedom is allowed to bring sublimity as best he can.