Thangka paintings are traditional paintings depicting the life of Buddha, Hindu Gods, and Goddesses. It is believed to have originated in present day Bihar. Art of Thangka paintings are very old and believed to be practiced as early as 3rd century BC. Painted on canvas and mounted in silk brocade, creating a Thangka painting is very demanding.
Thangka painting involves mastery of many demanding techniques: mastery in sketching the illustrations and numerous deities according to formal iconography rules laid down by generations of Tibetan masters; learning to grind and apply the paints, which are made from natural stone pigments; and learning to prepare and apply details in pure gold. From the canvas preparation and drawing of the subject, through to mixing and applying colours, decorating with gold, and mounting the finished work in brocade, the creation of a thangka painting involves skill and care at each stage and displays meticulous detail and exquisite artisanship. Source:http://www.tibetanpaintings.com/thangka-painting.htm
When not required for display, a Thangka painting can be rolled. This is also called ‘scroll-painting’. Unfortunately, since many artists did not have the opportunity to learn the traditional methods of Thangka paintings, most of the paintings in the market today are of very poor quality. This art is slowly dying.
It is good news that the Directorate of Hand-loom and Handicraft, Sikkim is imparting training to youth in the traditional art of wood carving and Thangka painting. Wood Carving involves carving dragons, and birds which are embodiment of Buddha’s teaching.Read more at http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/feature/sikkim-youth-learn-traditional-art-of-carving-and-painting_100187361.html