Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan Buddhist Deity)

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Avalokiteshvara, also called Padmani, is a well-known Bodhisattva who is said to embody the compassion of the Buddha. He is known as Chenrezig in Tibet, where he is considered one of the major Bodhisattvas, or a person on the path to Enlightenment. Avalokiteshvara is special to Tibetans as he is said to have returned to his ways as a bodhisattva even after attaining Buddhahood because of the desire to help more people attain enlightenment. In this regard, Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of selfless compassion of all Buddhas.

This thangka depicts Avalokiteshvara with a thousand arms with eyes on the palms, and iconography widely used in Tibet. Zoom in on each hand and the tiny eyes on the palms can easily be seen. He also has eleven heads, each depicted with varying colors in this painting. A Buddhist narrative sees Avalokiteshvara as deeply moved and vowed to free all sentient beings from the samsara (cycle of life). After the struggle and bearing this humungous burden of saving many beings, his head split into eleven pieces. When Amitabha saw this, he picks up the pieces and blessed Avalokiteshvara with eleven heads so the latter can hear and see more suffering. When he did see and hear, he tried to reach out to all but found his two arms shattered again into pieces. Amitabha comes again and gave him a thousand limbs to deal with the sufferings of the people. On his other hand are Buddhist symbols like lotus for purity, bow and arrow for overcoming temptation, a vase for longevity or wealth, prayer beads, and a conch for the sound of the universe. The lotus on his hands is also what sets him apart form other Bodhisattvas symbolizing that all beings can gain enlightenment and get out of the murky environment. On hand is in a mudra of supreme giving, while two are pressed near his chest, palms together, with a wish-granting jewel. He is dressed like a Bodhisattva in a way that his garments are princely, all his heads wear a crown, and is decked in jewels to signal his presence in the material world. At the very top of his crown is a small figure of Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light.

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Item Code: TY70
Tibetan Thangka Painting
Dimensions ted Surface 11 inch X 13.5 inch
Size with Brocade 21 inch X 34 inch
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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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