Brief History

Traditionally Thangka Paintings or in Tibetan 'Scroll Paintings', were created in this stylized fashion because in ancient Tibet lamas used to go from village to village by horse back to teach, as many people couldn't read. So the Thangka was used as a portable visual aid that Lamas (teachers) could roll up when traveling around and teaching. Thangkas are more commonly used in various forms of meditation, whereby the practitioner would focus on the painting to generate a clear image.

The sacred art of Thangka dates back to the 7th century, with its origins mainly fixed in Nepal.  But many painting styles of different Tibetan regions have been influenced by countries such as Persia and China.
Traditionally a Thangka painter would use an array of natural materials such as, hide glue and cotton to make a canvas, bamboo to stretch the canvas, paint brushes made from animal hairs, and a various assortment of paints and dyes made from natural pigments. Today in the west it is a costly factor to use such fine things as natural pigments, but with quality acrylic paints and mediums, the same effects can be met.
In the present day and age, it is becoming harder to find people that are qualified in the art of Thangka Painting because of the length of time it takes to study and learn the different aspects involved with the tradition. At a Thangka school, it is normal that a student can study for up to 7 years, then graduate with a grade of  A, B or C according to their level of skill. If a student has a higher grade they are able to charge a higher rate for there work, as the grades are recognized by the monasteries and governments. In the west these traditions aren't institutionalized, so western students either have to live in places like Nepal for extended periods of time, or dedicate time to learn from western teachers who have a lot of experience.

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