Origin of Thanka


        In Buddhist practice the art of painting is regarded as one of the important constituents of the five great subjects of the learning. Every practitioners of the Bodhisattva path should learn five subjects: Philosophy, Art, Grammar, Logic and medicine. The discipline of art has many branches, namely painting, sculpture, carving, engraving and so forth. Buddhist painting may have begun in the life time of the Buddha. While some scholars maintain the view that it took shape a couple of centuries later, there are some textual materials that suggest that the paintings of the Buddhist themes began during the Buddha’s lifetime. But according to some scholars, after a couple of centuries later of Buddha’s death, when people had started to go to pilgrimage, they need to carry a statue along with them for puja, which was a hestic task to do, so people started to paint the Buddha and other deities in the cotton canvas which was more reliable and easy to carry anywhere. Thankas are essential items of the Buddhist family and anyone who follows the Buddha’s enlightened way or the path. Thankas are also used for the visual aid for the concentration purpose. Thankas are reliable, durable religious paintings showing the way to Buddhahod and the enlightened path. These figures are typically seated or standing on lotus thrones, holding or surrounded by their characteristics embelem vajra, bell, conch shell, alms bowl, ritual swords, dagger, trident, bow and arrow. The landscape itself represents one of the heavenly populated by puff clouds “like white curd”, mountains, trees, valleys and other vegetation, lakes, monasteries, pagodas, birds, fish, lakes, animals, auspicious items and disciplines in a prayerful attitudes. Buddhas and Budhisattvas, as well as lineage masters have halos and often often body nimbuses, whereas fierce protector deities such as Mahakala of kalapura are surrounded by a circle of flames. Some thankas features mandalas or circular sacred spaces occupied by the main deity in the centre, protection deities in the four directions, and often a host of other essential beings outside the inner circle of the geometric construct. A mandala is a Cosmos gram, an idealized map of the larger universe. It is a tool of integration. It a device for focusing the mind in meditation. The Tibetan word “thanka” means rolled up, which refers to the fact that the art is painted on the flexible material cotton or silk that can easily be rolled up for easy transport. Their purpose is not to decorate empty walls but to serve as aids to ritual worship and meditative visualization, which is at the heart of the Tibetan Buddhist spirituality. The finished painting is usually but not always placed in a frame of brocade, which further emphasizes the sacred nature of a thanka. The main deity is always painted on the centre. With lesser deities and sacred entities surrounding it in hierarchical fashion. Thus the gurus are painted directly above the head of ty and lesser deities in the central figure, With Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas is what would be the sky and lesser deities in the half of the picture.