(Tibetan: Thang Ka = something to roll) have little in common with the painting art in the western sense. In the scroll images, individual themes, which refer to the history of Buddhism, are depicted in their symbolic complexity, admirable persons, saints, and appearances of gods.
A major part of today’s Thangka production is produced in Nepal. For tourists, Thangkas are produced with low production costs in a very short time. In these circumstances little attention is paid to the use of traditional materials, iconography and artistic quality. This is important for the artists, who help to preserve this cultural property by making iconographically correct Thangkas based on the centuries-old traditions.
The image carrier is a fine cotton cloth, linen or silk, which is primed on the front and back with a mass of lime and animal glue. With coal, the pre-drawing is now applied according to strict iconometric regulations and with the aid of a precise grid. The painting technique is called glue tempera in which individual color particles are glued together with the painting ground. This painting technique is necessary so that the color does not crumble when the image is rolled.
The delicacy of the drawing with very fine hairpins is of great importance when assessing the quality of the overall picture. In the traditional Thangkapainting schools mainly natural pigments are used. After completion of the painting, this is wrapped with precious silk brocade or damask. At the ritual inauguration of a Thangkas, the blessings given on the back of the picture are recorded.