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Amitabha Thangka

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 | Author:

amitabh_close3Thangka paintings are inspired by Buddhist philosophies. These art works are basically fused three dimensional in nature. Tibetan Buddhists accord extreme importance to Thangka paintings. Art works are considered as more of religious objects and one can see them hanging on Buddhist monasteries. Thangka paintings are often used in Buddhist religious processions. Before proceeding further, let’s have some information about the term ‘Amitabh’. According to Buddhist religion, Amitabha Buddha is the “Buddha of Infinite Light” and Thangka paintings represent him seated in ‘Sukhavati’, his celestial paradise. Sukhavati is also known as realm of bliss. The term ‘Amitabha Thangkas’ has spiritual connotations. It signifies physical illustration of the metamorphosis of worldly requirements into all encircling incandescent consciousness. The paintings show Amitabh Buddha in a position where he has his hands in a meditation position and holding a begging bowl. The bowl signifies receptivity and infinite openness.


Thangka comes from the Tibetan word Thang that means a flat surface. Add ‘ka’ to it and it becomes a painting ovn a flat surface. Mostly done on flat surfaces, Thangka paintings can also be rolled up like scroll paintings. However, scrolling is done only when the art works are not being displayed.  Structurally, Thangka has a mounting embellished with a silk cover, leather corners, embroidered picture panel and wooden decorative knobs.  These Thangka are made in Buddhist dominated areas like Dharmashala in Himachal Pradesh. This place is dominated by Buddhist monks and amazing Thangka can be seen over there.


Many religious art forms do not follow any artistic intent. They are more guided by religious beliefs. Similarly with Thangka paintings, Buddhist philosophy is the prime theme. These paintings depict contemplative experience of monks. Probably, because of its highly religious nature, they have remained secluded from mainstream of art.