Black and White manjushree,green tara and white tara thangka in newari style Thangka (Brocadeless Thangka)

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Newari art is characterised by a keen aesthetic and expression of spiritual sensibility. In the language of the Kathmandu Valley artisans, the painting (thangka) that you see on this page is a paubha. It depicts the trio of Khadiravani or Green Tara, Bodhisattva Manjushri, and Seetatara or White Tara.

Executed on fabric-based canvas woven out of cotton, it is a monotone composition. Numerous shades and tints of charcoal, ranging from deep, dark greys to silvery whites, distinguish the various aspects of the composition. The naked complexion of the deities, the gold and diamonds of their shringar, and the lotuses they are standing one, are on the paler end of the spectrum. The heavenly stretches of the background and composite landscape in the foreground are, however, executed with dark, richly layered brushstrokes.

Directly above Manjushri’s crown is the Newari-style Kirtimukham. Mythical creatures of serpentine form creep up betwixt the haloes of the Buddhist deities.

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Item Code: RTN062
Gouache and acrylic colors on Cotton Canvas
Dimensions 49 inch Height X 39  inch Width
Weight: 400 gm
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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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