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Tangka,which means painting scroll,takes its themes mainly from the statues of Buddha.In addition to color paintings,there are also embroidered ones with a relief effect.The most important is the pearl tangka,where numerous pearls are pieced together into a portrait of exquisite workmanship.
Tangka are has along history.According to one account.“Tibetan King Songtsan Gambo painted a portrait of the White Lhamo”,showing the existence of tangka painting more than 1,000 years ago.
In the beginning,they were drawn on walls in the form of murals.With the gradual spread of Buddhism,painting scrolls were created to facilitate their carriage.In addition to Buddha statues,there are also statues of Zongkapa founder of the Gelug Sect,as well as eminent monks of various other Tibetan Buddhist sects,the Dalai Lama,and the Panchen Lama.
Many tangka paintings were created in accordance with stories of Sakaymuni,the Six-Way Samara,Tibetan astronomy and medicine.At first,they were worshiped in Buddhist monasteries,gradually gaining wider acceptance by Tibetan Buddhist disciples,until finally becoming a painting art popular with Tibetans in general.
The evolution of the tangka art went through stages:
● The first stage saw the rise of the art in the period prior to the 10th century.In the Sagyanam Monastery,archaeologists discovered tangka paintings of that period still intact.
● The second stage was development of the art around the 13th century,reaching its heyday after the 16th century.By the mid-18th century,it had reached maturity.
What is often seen is the kind of tangka measuring one meter long and 60-70-cm wide.They are collected by monasteries and ordinary people as well as overseas Tibetologists and artists.What are rarely seen are the giant and mini-tangka painting.
When creating a painting,a tangka master stretches a piece of which cloth on a wooden frame.It is coated with glue and dried.Water is sprinkled over it,and the surface ground smooth.The material is then latticed for painting according to the Sutra on Figure Creating.Sketches are draw before color is applied.When a piece of yellow silk lining is added,the tangka painting is basically complete.When it is hung on the monastery wall,lamas will recite Buddhist scriptures,and the back of the painting will be hand printed by the lama.
In a nutshell,tangka art is a Tibetan national treasure arts,as well as part of the Chinese nation’s culture heritage.
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