A Japanese artist paints Tibetan Thangkas in Spain.
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The materials for thangka painting
Traditionally, Thangkas are painted with natural  mineral pigment, earth pigment and plant dye.

These are the result of effort and research by the painters who sought the best color in nature and it's not only in Tibet but we can find these pigment everywhere in the world.

It require specific knowledge and great experience to handle these pigment and also much more time to create a thangka.

Because of the difficulty to get and the high cost, there are very few thangka painter who use this kind of pigment nowadays. Instead many use acrylic paint or poster-color which are easy to handle and much cheaper. Even some of very known thangka painter are using the poster-color mixing with mineral pigment.

It's possible to get good result with acrylic color or poster-color to some extent.  But most of the thangkas sold in Nepal or India are very flashy color. It's too bright,,,or almost feel like pierce the eyes.
There are also some thangkas painted with very low tone,,,or low saturation as a result the thangkas looks gloomy or sank.


My teacher, the principal of the Tsering art school in Nepal, said that the value of the thangkas are not depend on the quality of the material we use.
Of course, he said, we should always try to get the best material but when we paint the Buddha or the deities, the virtue or the blessing of the thangkas are same even if it was painted with the color very cheap and low quality.

I, too, don't have any objection to paint the thangkas with acrylic paint or poster-color.  I do use those paint myself.
The Chenrezig thangka painted with water color→

The easiness of the poster-color can reduce a lot of time to work and the solidness and flexibility of acrylic-color is very profitable as thangkas are rolled up when they are carried or stored.


But even though, I want to paint thangkas with the natural pigment.

I can list several reason for that but one of the biggest reason is the "color".

I've heard from a high lama that the thangkas of these days look very great hanging in the shops but it's difficult to stare at it for long time when he meditate because of its flashy color. 

It is different when it's painted with the natural color.
They are deeper and calmer yet strong and intense.
Our gaze will not be bounced back,,,it won't pierce our eyes.

As thangka painting is not just a decorative art but also a tool for the Buddhist practice, I want to paint correct one, of course,  as well as beautiful one to attract whoever see it and which can help the meditation as a tool.


The quality of Japanese mineral pigment "Iwa-enogu" is very know even to Tibetan painter, Tibetan lama or Bhutanese conservator and it is easy to get in Japan.

I've heard there is a factory of mineral paint in Lhasa, Tibet. But Tibetan thangka painter still make the pigment by themselves.

Below is a video from Youtube about Thangka painting which shows these materials for the thangka painting.






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