Most of the thangkas use flat white cotton cloth as the canvas for the painting. Some are painted on paper or leather. Others are embroidered, appliquéd, woven and patchwork thangkas.
Painted thangkas are most commonly seen. According to the color of the background, painted thangka are divided into four types.
(1) Multi-color background
(2) Yellow background
(3) Vermilion background
(4) Black background
Embroidered thangka uses colored silk threads to make landscapes, figures, flowers, plumes, and pavilions.
Brocade thangka uses satin as the base and several colors of silk as the weft. Through jacquard weaving the design is “copied” onto the fabric.
Applique thangka use colored satin, cut into a variety of characters and graphics and pasted onto the fabric. The resulting work is also called “embossed embroidery.”
Tapestry thanka is woven with the method of complete warps and broken wefts which applies the weft threads on the warp only where the picture or design needs. The hollowed out work produces a three dimensional effect. Tapestry thanka is thick, closely woven, delicately designed and gorgeously decorated with colored silk threads. Tapestry thangka utilizes the weft pass-through approach creating an intense decorative effect. Other colorful designs are decorated with precious stones and gems stitched together with gold threads that create an exceptionally dazzling combination.
Silk Tapestry Thangka
Silk tapestry is an art form unique to China whereby the drawing is transplanted onto silk. These Thangka fabric textures are generously thick and rigorously well knit. The designs are exquisite with magnificent coloring. Tibetan Thangka fabrics are specially designed in Mainland China, particularly in the Yong Le period (AD1402- AD1424), Ming Dynasty. Over the years, they spread to Tibet, where Tibetans were also able to produce fabrics from local embroidery and applique thangka methods.
The pearl thangka is the most desirable of all. It is another kind of thanka in which beautifully designed colored fabrics decorated with pearls and precious stones are attached to the fabric with gold thread thereby creating a resplendent and dazzling effect. The pearl Thangka with the figure of Arya Avalokiteshvara is the treasure of Trundruk Monastery. This Thangka is 2 meters high and 1.2 meters wide. It is made of 2,9026 pearls, one diamond, two rubies, one sapphire, 0.55 liang (about 25g) purple gem, 185 kallaites, 15.5g gold and 4.1 liang (more than 200g). So many years have passed this priceless pearl thangka is still in good condition, making itself more valuable.
There are two types of printing thangka. One type overlays color designs then prints is mounted. The other takes a carving of the design and dips it with ink to print it on thin silk or fine cloth, and then made color-mounted. This Thangka, thin-stroked, strong-bladed, with dyed ink colors is clearly structured and unique. This rich, elegant style possesses a three dimensional decorative effect.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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