A “Thangka,” also known as “Tangka”, “Thanka” or “Tanka” is a silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting but consists of a picture panel which is painted or embroidered over which a textile is mounted and then over which is laid a cover, usually silk. Generally, thangkas last a very long time and retain much of their lustre, but because of their delicate nature, they have to be kept in dry places where moisture won’t affect the quality of the silk. It is sometimes called a scroll-painting.
These thangkas served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas. One subject is The Wheel of Life, which is a visual representation of the Abhidharma teachings (Art of Enlightenment).
Recently in Kathmandu an exhibition of 70 m x 50 m thangka was organised by the Nepal Council for Preservation of Buddhist Religion (NCPBR) in association with Mandala 21st Century, Japan. It has been created by the joint effort of Surya Bahadur Thakali, Chairman of NCPBR and Yasutada Katagiri, President of Mandala 21st Century, a Japanese citizen.
“The dream of creating the largest ever thangka was conceived in 1994 and with the effort of more than 10,000 volunteers from over 16 countries in a span of eight years, this masterpiece was put together. We feel proud of completing this big campaign and sharing the philosophies of the Buddha among all the people in the world.” Surya Bahadur Thakali explained about the Thangka.
The thangka depicts Buddha’s life story summarised in the 12 deeds that he performed from his birth to his life’s end. It weighs 1,900 kg and was completed by joining 81 pieces, each piece 20 feet in length and 18 feet in breadth with help of zippers.
At the exhibition, the thangka looked like a huge pool — you couldn’t really see clearly from one end of it to the other and only when you climbed to the top of the stadium that the thangka could be seen in its full form which was breathtaking in its exquisite detail, which is the main characteristic of a thangka.
Please look at the amazing creation