CRI Home - Photo- Forums - Talk China - Surf China - About China -  
  Webcast | CRI Today | China | World | Biz | SciTech | Sports | Life | Showbiz | Easy FM | Learn Chinese / English | Weather | Events
Thangka, A Unique Tibetan Culture
2006-03-10 17:04:26

Thangka, A Unique Tibetan Culture

Thangka, seen in every monastery and family shrine in Tibet, is actually a kind of Tibetan scroll-banner painting and is a unique art form that belongs to the Tibetan culture.

What is Thangka

Thangka has been in vogue in Tibet for centuries. In Tibetan, "Thang" means "unfolding" or "displaying", and Thangka means "silk, satin or cloth painting scroll". It is most often painted on scrolls or embroidered on wall hangings of silk or other cloth. Common at monasteries, lamas' residences, family halls for worshipping Buddha and homes of Tibetan Buddhists, Thangka is a mark of devotion to Buddhism and often serves as an object of worship.


Nobody knows where and when Thangka originated, but comparing with Tibetan painting, the history of Thangka can be traced back to as early as the Tubo period (or Songtsam Gampo period, about the 7th century), as a combination of Chinese scroll painting, Nepal painting and Kashmir painting. From the relics of Karuo in Qamdo, we can find the trace of Thangka.

Until the 7th century, Songtsen Gampo united the whole Tibet and hence a new period in Tibetan history began. Later Songtsen Gampo married Nepal princess Chizun and Tang Dynasty princess called Wencheng, further strengthening the connection of politics, economy, and culture between Tibetan and the Han ethnic groups. The two princesses came to Tibet with a lot of Buddhist scriptures, architecture technology, soothsaying and lawmaking, medical scriptures and many skilled artisans, greatly stimulating the development of Tibetan society, especially the flourishing of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism culture. At that time fresco alone could not satisfy the need of those disciples. So another kind of art Thangka, easy to carry, hang and collect, appeared and popularized.

During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), the central government adopted the system of approving Tibetan chieftain to strengthen the control over Tibet. These methods made contribution to the development of the Tibetan society. So the Ming and Qing dynasties saw a great progress in the development of Thangka. Thangka of this period had three characteristics:

1. Thangka in larger number;
2. Different schools developed;
3. Appearance of many painting organizations.

Of the existing Thangkas, most were made during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

1  2  3  

        Talk China        Print        Email        Recommend claims the copyright of all material and information produced originally by our staff. All rights reserved. Reproduction of text for non-commercial purposes only is permitted provided that both the source and author are acknowledged and a notifying email is sent to us. holds neither liability nor responsibility for materials attributed to any other source. Such information is provided as reportage and dissemination of information but does not necessarily reflect the opinion of or endorsement by CRI.


   A-Z Index of Tourist Sites
 Most Popular Pages
• Where to View Giant Pandas
• Fancy China 2005
• Most Beautiful City Zones: Top 5
• H.K. Disneyland
• Norway Travelogue: "Way to the North"
• Xiamen-China's Most Beautiful Cityscape
• A Tour of Oxford
• A Visit to Xinjiang on Its 50th Birthday
• Watching Birds Around Beijing!
• Autumn Hues Throughout China
 Latest Contents
• [Highlights] Taoyuan Fairy Valley
• [Photo Gallery] Lu Xun's Former Residence, Shaoxing
• The Waning Hometown
• [Photo Gallery] Springtime Wuzhen
• [Multimedia] Hangzhou: Heaven on Earth
• [Travel Express Vol. 108] Yantai
• [Highlights] Experiencing Beijing Folk Customs at Tianqiaole Teahouse
• [Multimedia] Mount Putuo
• [Travel Express Vol.107] Quanzhou: Starting Point of the "Maritime Silk Road"
• [Photo Gallery] Peony of Luoyang
 What is RSS ?
Hong Kong Disneyland
Red Tour Around China
China Online Tour
Tibet Diary
 About This Site
 Contact Us