Support Thangka Artists
Yushu Earthquake put thousands of children out of school, and most of them were not fortunate enough to reveice a free education. Some of them went for a career as Thangka artists instead.
Inheriting An Ancient Art Form
The Thangka art is a traditional Tibetan art form. It usually depicts deities in Tibetan Buddhism. To create a perfect Thangka, artists must have more than 10 years of systematic training. Viewers can see the artists' devotion to their religion reflected in these paintings.
The artist Tsang Mai has been offering help to children who were put out of school by the earthquake since 2010. He started training these children to become the next generation Thangka artists, and learning in his studio is totally free. Yushu Reborn is fortunate to partner with Mr. Tsang Mai's studio in facilitating the development of this ancient art form.
I am the founder of the Yushu Gahma Thangka Studio. I am a third-generation Thangka Artist, and I have been working with Thangkas for more than 30 years
I have been learning Thangka for more than 10 years, and creating art just feels like the right thing for me.
I am a student at the Thangka studio. I have hearing disabilities, and Thangka provided me a way to interact with this world.
The Process of Creating a Thangka
An Ancient Practice
Most pigments used to make the Thangkas are minerals and have to be ground up manually. After mixing the pigments with animal-based glue, the artists apply them over a pre-processed cotton canvas. A single Thangka can take up to months, or even years to finish, depending on the size and the level of detail.
Grinding up the
The minerals used as pigments must be ground up manually. After this, they are stored for future use
The first draft of Thangka determines its quality. The artist first determines the exact ratio of the painting, and then works on the rough shape of the deities. The painting of deity figures must follow strict guidelines set by buddhist texts. The artist can only master it after years of training.
A regular sized Thangka often takes months of hard work, thus making collaboration between artists extremely important. Collaboration is a combination of each artist's forte.
The facial expressions of the deities, especially their eyes, must be done independently by the senior artist. The brushes used to draw the facial details are also specially made just for this task. The facial expressions finish up the Thangka. During the Yushu Reborn team's visit to the studio, we were fortunate enough to see this ending process on one of the Thangkas.
Tsang Mai and His Studio
Last time we visited Mr. Tsang Mai, we asked him to share his knowledge on the mysterious Thangka art, as well as his journey in helping the earthquake victims through the art studio.
Photo Credit: Baoyong & Philip Huang
Video Credit: Philip Huang
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