Speciality Of: Himachal Pradesh
The monasteries of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and other areas have an amazing collection of religious manuscripts, scriptures and paintings known as "thankas". "Thankas" is the name given to the paintings on cloth and are believed to ward off the "evil eye", malificent influences and prevent diseases and mental depression.
The History Of Thankas
The "thankas" were brought to these districts by the Buddhist missionaries from the Indian plain, Kashmir , Tibet and other neighbourig countries. Although these are now hung in temples, their name indicates that they were rolled and carried by travelers too privide protection from evil spirits or were used by minstrels to illustrate the episode they were describing. These paintings are a regular feature of any monastery and are found in abundance in the Ki-monastery of Spiti.
The Themes And Inspirations Thankas are traditional scroll paintings drawn on cloth with wonderful compositions of geometrical arrangements known as "Mandalas" and are steeped in oriental tradition. "Mandalas" are cosmic symbols whose strict geometrical structure displays the order of the cosmos.
These Buddhist religious "thankas" generally depict "Jataka" tales, which recount the events of the past lives of Buddha. In these paintings Buddha, 'Bodhisattavas' and other divinties are portrayed with impressive retinues or acolytes.
In other representations these deties dominate the composition and are shown as choir in their own paradise. The essential schemes of these paradises also are defined by a literature dedicated to them.
For doing these paintings craftsmen were trained as apprentices in monasteries where they worked mainly by copying well-known images of the scenes and the deities. These craftsmen seldom singed their name. Hence they are anonymous.
Terrifying scenes portraying disintegrating bodies ejecting blood, skeletons, dead creatures and various mutilations of the body. "Tantric thankas" depict "Siddhas", gods, goddesses, demons, "apsaras", and "yoginis" in various yogic postures.
A Peculiar Method
The material used for painting a "thankas" is usually coarse woolen cotton. Silk, however, is preferred for important subjects. The process of doing this painting is quite lengthy and time consuming.
The fabric for painting is stretched on a wooden frame and a coat of thin, starchy paste made of animal glue and talcum powder, is spread over the surface to fill into the texture and block up the holes. As the paste, dries, the artist rub the cloth with a flat stone to smoothen the surface.
The outline of the figure and the subject to be represented are sketched on chbarcoal on the surface. The drawing always begin with the central figure which represents the focal point of composition. After this various colours are applied over these drawings with a brush. The main colour used is the gold colour, which is widely used for representing garments or for the emblems of the deities represented.
The Colour Scheme
An impressive feature of these paintings is the unique colour scheme by which the deity is represented. Inwhite while a combative and terrifying aspect is depicted by red or dark - blue colour. Even the Buddhas and Bodhisattavas and other divinities have a particular of their own.
Panitings are mounted on the walls of the monastery in accordance with certain Buddhist rules.