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Tankha

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Tanka painter by Leon Meerson

Tanka painter by Leon Meerson

Tankha are Tibetan and Nepali Buddhist artworks said to assist in the quest for liberation. The visual themes are almost always religious in some fashion. Wikipedia explains:

Thangka perform several different functions. Images of deities can be used as teaching tools when depicting the life (or lives) of the Buddha, describing historical events concerning important Lamas, or retelling myths associated with other deities. Devotional images act as the centerpiece during a ritual or ceremony and are often used as mediums through which one can offer prayers or make requests. Overall, and perhaps most importantly, religious art is used as a meditation tool to help bring one further down the path to enlightenment. ¹

Here are some examples:

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting of ...

Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting of a mandala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tibetan Buddhist Namgyal monks preparing the K...

Tibetan Buddhist Namgyal monks preparing the Kalachakra mandala within the pavilion, under thangkas of Padmasambhava, Kalachakra, Lord Buddha, Kalachakra Mandala, and White Tara, prayer area, main shrine, Verizon Center, Washington D.C., USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Buddha Amitabha in Tibetan Buddhism, tradition...

Buddha Amitabha in Tibetan Buddhism, traditional Thangka painting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Bhavacakra (Sanskrit; Devanagari:...

The Bhavacakra (Sanskrit; Devanagari: भवचक्र; Pali: bhavacakka) or Wheel of Becoming is a symbolic representation of continuous existence proces in the form of a circle, used primarily in Tibetan Buddhism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vajravarahi mandala

Vajravarahi mandala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Description at en.wikipedia.org: "I took ...

Description at en.wikipedia.org: “I took this photo myself in September 1993 and am happy for it to be freely available. John Hill 02:45, 28 January 2007 (UTC) I am sorry – in the original name I gave the date as 1994 by mistake – it was taken during our trip to Tibet in 1993. John Hill (talk) 00:48, 9 January 2008 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: 14th century Tibetan thangka painting...

14th century Tibetan thangka painting of the Mandala of Vajravarahi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Art shop in Kathmandu, Nepal

Art shop in Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Painted Bhutanese Medicine Buddha mandala with...

Painted Bhutanese Medicine Buddha mandala with the goddess Prajnaparamita in center, 19th century, Rubin Museum of Art Bhutanese art is similar to the art of Tibet. Both are based upon Vajrayana Buddhism, with its pantheon of divine beings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the above we can see the visual diversity of the Tankha. The Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung was particularly interested in their mandala qualities. Jung likened the tankha to circular shaped Christian art that he felt was pointing to the same, or a similar phenomenon—the self.

“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing,…which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time….Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:…the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp 195 – 196.

The reason I say “similar” is because Jung, at some points in his Collected Works and Letters, argues that Christianity differs from Eastern religions. The upwardly skewed symbol of the cross, he felt, indicated an upward bias. Jung once said that Eastern yogis, lamas and saints were “at bottom” of the spiritual change we see in the West.²

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thangka

² I included this quote (and its reference) in an essay for my doctoral studies. The essay, however, is not online, and probably buried deep in a cardboard box. I will find it… soon. 🙂

Related Posts » Buddhism, Karma, Mandala, Metempsychosis, Moksha, Reincarnation, Samsara

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Author: Earthpages.ca

Earthpages.ca is about dialogue, understanding and positive change. Write as many entries as you like. We're not afraid of new ideas!

3 thoughts on “Tankha

  1. need more details of the art form and a brief history of the art

    Like

  2. Agreed. I’m going over the entire site and revising it. However, you might find some useful material in the related entries.

    Thanks…

    Like

  3. It’s much more efficient for me to link to Wikipedia for those interested in the art history. Earthpages is an ALTERNATIVE.. not a regurgitation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thangka

    Like

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