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    The Art of Painting (Thangka) in Tibet

    Thangka, similar to scroll painting, is usually painted on clothes or papers. It is mounted and sewed with silk fabrics. The lower shaft end is decorated with delicate spindling head.  is covered with chiffon and colorful strips. After the mounting, Lama would be invited to chant the blessing and cover his golden juice or cinnanar fingerprint on the back of the painting, also with rare Ke silk, embroidery and pearl Thangka. The painting of Thangka is quite complicated, the material used is sophisticated, and the pigment has to be made from mine or plant and has to be irreversibly colorful. As a comprehensive reflective medium of Tibetan religion, history, culture, art, and science, Thangka integrates Tibetan beliefs and wisdom, records Tibetan civilization, history and development, and embodies Tibetan unparalleled emotions to the Buddha. It is said thatSrongtsenGampo, the King of Tibet,was the creator of the first Thangka.

    It is said that SrongtsenGampo,the King of Tibet (the incarnation of Avalokitesvara), drew the White Lamu portrait with his own nosebleed after a prophecy, which was the first piece of Thangka: this Thangka was said to be hidden in the stomach of the White Lamu statue by Guozhu West Living Buddha. These legends might not be convincing enough when it comes to scientific research. However, in terms of painting art, it can be traced back to the New Stone Age at the earliest(available). And in the Tubo Dynasty, painting art reached the level of perfection. As the extension of mural painting, Thangka has emerged no later than the mid-7th century. Early Thangka is impossible to trace now due to the Gldarma's destruction: the existing Thangka, except for a few ones which were the works during the Song or Yuan Dynasty, was made under the reign of LobsangGyatso, the fifth Dalai. 

    Thangka was pieces of works offered by civil artists to temples before LobsangGyatso. At the time of the fifth Dalai, the institution equal to painting academy was established, and the creation of Thangka had come to the period of specialization since then. At the stage of the late seventh Dalai, KelsangGyatso, "The Laribaiji community" was established, which is an official art academy. Undoubtedly, the creation promoted the development of Thangka art. Thangka rendering also gradually appeared many genres,and one of the most influential is "Mentang" (belonging to medicine guru Buddha) genre. The painters within the academies have titles, the highest of which was known as "Wuqin". The last "Wuqin" in the history of Tibetan painting is a master of Thangka Painting named ZhaxiCiren, who is also the only "Wuqin" alive now. 

    The painting requirements of Thangka were extremely strict and the painters had to adhere to the religious rituals in every procedure. What's more, the Book of Image Measuring has made clear rules about the content, color, and size of each Thangka, where the painters were, under no circumstance, allowed to violate. Thangka includes surprisingly comprehensive contents: religiousThangka, which reflects Tibetan Buddhism and all kinds of Buddha and gods; Tibetan medicine and astronomy Thangka, which reflects the achievements of natural science; Historical materials Thangka, which records historical events; and biographical Thangka that records figures.
    Since Buddhism is quite universal, all Thangkas are strongly religious. Thangka, with high artistic value and collectable value, is the treasure in the life of Tibetan people and the symbol of artistic achievements of Tibetan culture. Thangka is one kind of famous religious (Tantric Buddhism) artwork in Tibetan culture. It is a scroll painting framed by the color satin, which has been regarded as the treasure by Tibetan people for a long time.
    Cloth Thangka: Stretch the white cloth on a wooden frame firstly, coat it with a layer of glial lime, then polish it with talc, finally draw the outline of painting. 
    Embroidered Thangka: embroidered by various colored silk threads, all the landscapes, figures, floral, feathers, pavilions and castles can be embroidered.
    Brocaded Thangka: based on satin weave, use multi-colored silk threads as weft, and create through interactive jacquard weave. 
    Applique Thangka: using satins of many colors, cutting into all kinds of characters and figures, pasting on the fabric, so it is also called "barbola". 
    Ke silkThangka: It is to weave all colors of weft with warp on where decorative patterns are needed by means of "getting through warp and breaking weft", making it look like chasing, become elegant in style and features, and be full of tridimensional ornamentation. Ke silk is a special handiwork in our country, which plants paintings onto the silk fabrics, and it's tight and thick in quality, with delicate and colorful figures. Some people decorate it with pearls and jewelries, which is complimentary and dazzling. Most Tibetan woven Thangkas are made inland specially, most of which were sent to Tibet in Yong Le and Cheng Hua periods of the Ming Dynasty. Later, woven Thangka with embroidery and applique could be produced in Tibet locally. 
    Printing coloringThangka: carving the finished image into engraving first, and printing with ink on the chiffon or percale and then finishing it by coloring and mounting. This kind of Thangka has slender type of strokes and vigorous way of cutting, most of which are painted with black ink outside and red ink inside, beautifully layered, and have a style of its own. 

    The Sculpture Art of Tibetan Buddhism

    At the beginning of the 7th century, with the Buddhism introduced to Tibet on a large scale, Buddhism art made a profound and lasting significant influence on the development of Tibetan sculpture art. The emerging of Buddhist temples raised a huge demand of sculpture creation based on Buddha and other related themes. As a result, on the basis of local traditional sculpture art of Tibet and the continuous absorption of the essence of Buddhism art, a new form of art came into being, that is, the sculpture art of Tibetan Buddhism, which promptly became the main part of Tibetan sculpture art.

    The formation, development and prosperity of the sculpture art of Tibetan Buddhism experienced four major phases:
    The coexistence phase of various art schools during Tubo period (from the early 7th century to the middle and late periods of the 8th century). In this period, various culture and art from adjacent countries and regions such as India, inland Central Plains, Nepal and Khotan, swarmed into the Tibetan society, due to the cultural opening-up policy carried out since SrongtsenGampo. Indian Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism in Tubo and Tubo traditional Bon culture were in constant contact and collision, and a variety of cultures and political entities behind them were trying to compete for unifying all kinds of cultural ideology in Tubo. The situation of symbiotic co-existence of and difference between both Buddhism and Bon culture arts was formed, due to the equilibrium of the force of support-Buddhism and support-Bon culture. The famous Samye Monastery is a prime example at this stage. Its art works have both Turpan traditional characteristic and the style out the city area. According to the literature, Samye's three-floored main palaces respectively accord to the Tibetan, Chinese and Indian artistic building styles. Tibetan architectural style is adopted for the first floor, with the center according to Tibetan temple sculpture mold, and a total of 13 statues at shakyamuni Buddha and its side. The second floor was built according to the Chinese architecture style. The third floor was built according to the Indian architecture feature. Many artistic styles existed in this stage, like flowers vying with each other in splendor, laying a foundation for the formation of Tibetan Buddhism art. 
    The gradual formation stage of Tibetan Buddhism sculpture art (from middle and late periods of the 8th century to the 13th century). During this period, Buddhist culture has been gradually promoted in Tibet because Buddhism had gradually got the status of "national religion" in the late half period of TrisongDetsen. Though in Lang Darma stage, Buddhism was inhibited, Buddhism had successively entered Tibet from Qinghai and Ngari Area once again after a century. The sculptures in this period embody the feature of Indian Buddhism sculptures merging with the traditional Tibetan sculptures, and Tibetan artists began to absorb the style of Indian art and the Indian Buddhism art also was in pursuit of change towards Tibetan art. From the ruins of sculpture art in the remains of Tholin Temple and Guge, Polo and Kashimir art styles prevail, and they represent the pursuit of aloft and serene aesthetic artistic conception. Though Tibetan artists had been pursuing the perfect blend between Buddhism formative art and national sculpture, Buddhism art was a foreign culture after all. Therefore, emphasis on imitation was inevitable in the early stage of practice. 
    The fully mature stage of Tibetan Buddhism Sculpture (from the 13th century to the end of the 15th century). In this stage, Tibet was in the rising period of Tibetan feudal economy and culture and each feudal lord was enamored of supporting religious sects and broadly building temples. Many famous temples were built at this period, such as Qamdo Temple (built in 1347), Gandan Monastery (built in 1409), Drepung Monastery (built in 1416), Sera Monastery (built in 1418) and Gyangze Palcho Monastery (built in 1418-1436), as well as Shigatse Tashilhunpo Monastery (built in 1447). Through a long-term exploration on the Buddhism Sculpture styles of India, mainland China and Nepal, Tibetan artists had digested them and formed an unique Tibetan Buddhism sculpture art, and created a large number of porcelain works with style of simplicity, ruggedness, deepness and chubbiness. Compared with the influences of early Indian and Nepalese sculptures, sculptures in this period are more of strong remained appeal of palace sculptures since the Yuan Dynasty. The character figures basically do not look like their originals in Indian arts anymore. The oval faces with high noses and thin lips, have been replaced by faces that the Tibetan are familiar with, which is especially the case in the portrayal of great Buddhist scholars. The expressions make the sculptures seem more stouthearted and self-esteemed, which is live and vivid, fully demonstrating the artistic talents of Tibetan sculptors and the traditions of sculpture that the Tibetan inherit.
    Stage of Tibetan Buddhism sculpture's gradual over-elaboration and luxuriance (after the 16th century). After the 16th century, Tibetan Buddhism's sculpture style gradually tended to be secularized, stylized, rationally mystified and decoratively elaborated, and characters were carved more exquisitely with focused decoration. Sculpture of Tantra pursues more mysteries in Buddhism creed theory, and its image is lacking of breakthroughs because it is limited to traditions. At this stage, Buddhist decorative art greatly exceeded that in the past. Its magnificence and luxury as well as its elaborate craft work reached a marvelously high level. But in terms of the whole artistry, it still lacked the rich and delicate emotional communication as well as the characteristic description of the 13th century to the 15th century. Although there were still a few masterpieces with both appearance and spirit, they are no comparison to those in the fully mature heyday. 
    There are various kinds of Tibetan Buddhism sculptures, and they are not only made of metal like gold, silver, copper and alloy, but also of clay, wood, stone and yak-butter, like circular engraver, alto-relievo and basse-taille. Among them, clay, metal sculpture and stone carving are the most common ones, and the number of their works also ranks the first place. Those clay, metal sculpture and stone carving are the main part of Tibetan Buddhism sculptures.

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