Beijing's 798 Art District Holds Traditional Nepalese Thangka Exhibition

February 28, 2014
By Ye ShanEditor: Tracy Zhu

Beijing's 798 Art District Holds Traditional Nepalese Thangka Exhibition
Poster of the exhibition [Beijing Himalaya Art Gallery]
An exhibition of Nepalese Thangka art work is currently being held at the Beijing Himalaya Art Gallery in the 798 Art District of Beijing.

The exhibition not only features Thangka art, but also offers visitors the chance to see photographs and documentary films of Nepalese landscapes.

Thangka, also known as Tangka, is a style of painting done on a cotton or silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala (a shared Buddhist and Hindu symbol). A Thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting, but instead consists of a picture panel which is painted or embroidered over, upon which is laid a cover, usually made of silk.

Generally, Thangkas last a very long time and retain much of their luster, but because of their delicate nature, they have to be kept in dry places where moisture won't affect the quality of the silk. It is sometimes called a scroll-painting.

Thangka served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas. One subject is The Wheel of Life, which is a visual representation of the Abhidharma teachings (Art of Enlightenment).                                                                                                                                                        
Thangka, when created properly, 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 a 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 along the path to enlightenment. Buddhist Vajrayana practitioners use a Thangka image of their yidam, or meditation deity, as a guide, by visualizing "themselves as being that deity, thereby internalizing Buddha qualities."

Beijing Himalaya Art Gallery is a gallery in the 798 Art District of Beijing which focuses on the collection and exhibition of Thangka, the most representative visual art of Tibetan Buddhism.

The gallery holds regular exhibitions, salons, tea parties and lectures on Thangka art. Additionally, academic research, cultural heritage protection, and international cooperation work have also been launched by the gallery, to promote and protect the development of Himalayan culture.

The gallery provided iPads, headsets, and magnifying glasses for visitors. People at the exhibition can use the Himalaya's smart phone app to read detailed information about the Thangka paintings and painters as they stood appreciating the works.


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