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Tangka, meaning stamp and print, or painting on cloth in Tibetan, is sourced from painting on the wall.  Painting, as RiMo in Tibetan language, means a woman in mountain.  An old story descripts a young sheep boy, who was born with talent and liked to paint by stone on the rock everywhere.  He was one day fascinated by a beautiful woman and then followed her into the mountain.  Suddenly the woman disappeared.  Young sheep boy started painting the woman’s face on the rock by stones every day, until the woman’s beautiful face is deeply locked on the rock.  RiMo connected to Buddha was in 7th century, the Songtsen Ganpo period.  Ancient grand monks expressed Buddha, Bodhisattva, and their noble teachers based on the image when they were meditating, and then hang up in the monasteries.  The most talent Tangka artist usually is from monastery, who are either Lama or some are Rinpoche.  They describe the Tang as grass land and Ka as blue sky, Buddha and whole world are between.  In Tibetan history, there was a dark time period that Buddhism was forbidden; Tangka and Buddha sculpture were forbidden in any kind exhibition.  The Grand Lama used their wisdom, painted animals, tress, and legend stories, to indicate the theories of Buddhism, therefore; created Tangka art and passed to generations.  It is a combination of art and Buddhism.  Artists are using the nature precious materials, making beautiful color, painting Buddha’s and his behavior, to express the Buddhism theory.  Tangka is expressing the philosophy, Buddhism, art, and also reflecting the actual life of the time.


Today, either in the monastery or folk village, you can find the colorful Tangka.  The painting part is sewed on the silk.  A stick above is called as libera, and a stick below is called as earth balance, therefore Tangka can hang well vertically.  Usually the two ends of the earth balance are the nubs made by gold or silver.  Since the nomad people are highly appreciating the gold, silver, precious jewels, and Tibetan red rose, they are using quiet amount of such nature precious materials to make the color forpainting Tangka.  Besides the Buddha image, there are also many Buddhism symbols, animal, astronomy, mathematics, and folk stories, which are often coming from artists’ meditation image.  Tangka is not just a painting but also a piece of art itself.  It requires skillful sewing technique and quality fabric.  As Lama or Rinpoche, who need to be in diet and show before starting painting, further more need a time period of meditation.  While Tangka is completed, only the Buddhism words are written behind Tangka, non artist’s name on.  Lama will chant Buddhism sutra, pack Tangka in white silk (Kadai), finally the Tangka is ready to be taken out.


Grand Penchen Rinpoche VV, in his life time, he cared Tibetan Tangka art very much.  He has funded Tangka art centers in Khampas territories and Tibet, educated a numbers of talent Tibetan young lama.  Our Shangri-La Association of Cultural Preservation now has two senior Tangka teachers, who both have had 23 years and 16 years Lama experiences.  Lama Khedup is an extraordinary talent Tangka artist and also sophisticates in Buddhism sutra.  Unfortunately the true value of Tangka art is missing today.  Our culture preservation mission and creation of Tangka art are based on the understanding and practicing of Buddhism theory, also demonstrating the world environment and life today.

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