Category Archives: Thangka

All About Thangkas: Preservation Workshop, May 6, 2017 New York City

All About Thangkas
Workshop in New York City

Date: May 06, 2017
Time: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location: Talas, 330 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

Reserve your place in this intensely informative and comprehensive day-long workshop, with keynote presentations, open Q&A during catered lunch, and discussion of thangka examples.

Thangkas present conservators, curators, collectors, and dharma students with a unique challenge in choice of preservation measures and conservation treatment. It is crucial to have background in the techniques of their manufacture and historical use.

“All About Thangkas” presents the entire thangka form, textile and painting components, and details of their creation, use, deterioration and preservation.

Workshop is limited to 20 participants.
To register and for further information:

About the Instructor:
Ann Shaftel saw her first thangka in 1955 during a school trip to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Since 1970 she has been working with thangkas in monasteries, museums, dharma centers and for private collectors. Ann has worked with the Rubin Museum collection, AMNH, UNESCO, Yale University, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Art Institute of Chicago, and many more.

Ann’s current conservation outreach project, trains monks and nuns to protect and preserve Buddhist sacred treasures in their own monasteries, with workshops in Bhutan, India and Nepal.

Ann is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation, a Fellow of International Institute for Conservation, Member of Canadian Association of Professional Conservators, ICOM-Canada, and ICOMOS. She trained in conservation at Winterthur/University of Delaware and ICCROM. Ann has an MA in Asian Art History.

Private tours of thangkas at the Rubin Museum and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on May 4, 5 are offered by arrangement.


A photobook in search of context and sequence: The Monks Of Rural Thailand

monks rural thailandReview by Jeffrey Martin

Cracker, Lee. The Monks Of Rural Thailand. San Francisco: Blurb, 2014.

While American photographer Lee Cracker’s images have appeared in mass circulation publications, he has taken lately to self-publishing a number of Thai-based projects, including books on the 2014 coup and a collection of Bangkok street images.  If these are in any way similar to this volume on Buddhist monastics, they would benefit greatly from an editor familiar with the topic, and more fundamentally with visual narration.

The electronic version of The Monks of Rural Thailand is a 71-page pdf containing several lovely images of Thai bhikkhus engaged in typical monastic behavior. The images are accompanied by a brief description of Thai monasticism and a handful of Buddha quotes on the nature of suffering and liberation.  

cracker 04

One of the impressive images featured in The Monks of Rural Thailand.

But the story, such as there is, feels incomplete and lacking direction.  Most of the images appear to have been taken at public events.  There are few private moments, such as monks in their quarters, or monks studying, or monks meditating.  But even if there were, it might be difficult for viewers unfamiliar with their world to understand what they are seeing.  Perhaps Cracker prefers a visual presentation that doesn’t require text, but I suppose the average viewer coming to this book would like to know what is pictured.  As someone who has studied Buddhism formally, as well as practiced among Asian Buddhists, I have some familiarity with Buddhist monastics, but even so a few of the images in this collection left me wondering exactly what was happening.  Cracker doesn’t even tell us in what part of Thailand these photos were taken.  In addition, sequencing is opaque.  There appear to be a set number of activities – praying, walking alms rounds, receiving donations, and taking part in ordination ceremonies – but the images are not suitably grouped and some seem to have no particular value in telling a story. Continue reading

Photo Essay: Exhibition of the Buddha held in Tibet

People’s Daily Online
June 12, 2014

On June 10, with the sound of sutra bugle, lamas and many Buddhists carried on the large-scale Padmasambhava Thangka or Thanka Paintings to the platform for the exhibition of the Buddha. The grand ceremony not only attracted many local Buddhists, but also many pilgrims from China and abroad. Tsurpu Monastery is the ancestral temple of Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism and has nearly one thousand years of history. (CNS Photo)

For more images, follow the [link].

NY Thangka Painting Classes

Buddhist mural at Rubin Museum of Art

Carmen Mensink is a Dutch painter working in the Tibetan thangka tradition and will be conducting classes throughout the state of New York during July 2014.  For a full schedule and descriptions of classes, please visit her website here.

US Exhibit: Tibetan Buddhism gets a feminist reboot

Colorado Springs Independent
Kirsten Akens
May 21, 2014

Hunter-Larsen: 'As a total outsider ... you would not see this as radical art.'

Thangka by Joan Bredin-Price

When you step into Colorado College’s IDEA Space during its 2014 summer exhibition Mandala of Enlightenment: The Dhyani Buddhas and Tara: Goddess of Liberation, you might think you’re simply surrounded by a couple dozen pieces of traditional Tibetan Buddhist art.

It’ll take some work on your part — reading the wall texts, in particular — to understand what’s happening in Joan Bredin-Price’s paintings around you. Continue reading

LA Exhibit Review: Norton Simon’s ‘In the Land of Snow’ is an enlightening exhibit

LA Times
David Pagel
08 April 2014

'In the Land of Snow'

A bronze sculpture with silver and copper inlay depicts Buddha and his followers on the cosmic mountain, Kashmir, circa 700.

At a time when museums seem to be torn between blockbusters and specialized scholarship, it’s refreshing to come across “In the Land of Snow: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas” at the Norton Simon Museum, a no-nonsense exhibition that spares the bells and whistles to make a strong case for the virtues of amateurism.

Not that long ago, before America was a nation of over-professionalized experts, pretension was something to be made fun of and it was OK to be an amateur. The word’s Latin root is “lover.” Admiration is essential to its definition.

Those emotions form the heart and soul of the two-gallery exhibition, which was organized by assistant curator Melody Rod-ari. Made up of 34 ceremonial objects of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism, all but two of which are drawn from the Pasadena museum’s impressive holdings of Asian art, “In the Land of Snow” is both manageable and satisfying.

Continue reading

Tibetan Thangka Art Inheritor Opens Exhibition in Beijing, thru 13 May 2014

Women of China
By Zhang Yuan
April 23, 2014

Tibetan Thangka Art Inheritor Opens Exhibition in Beijing

As an inheritor of Regong Art, a mix of religious art by Tibetan and Tu ethnic minorities and local folk arts,  Niangben opened a Thangka art exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing, on April, 16. [Women of China/ Zhang Yuan]

As an inheritor of Regong Art, a mix of religious art by Tibetan and Tu ethnic minorities and local folk arts,  Niangben opened a Thangka art exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing, on April, 16. As one of the forms of Regong art, Thangka is embroidered or painted on cloth, silk or paper, color scroll paintings, and depict illustrations of Tibetan cultures. Continue reading

Tibetan masterpieces configured to create a three-dimensional meditation map at the Asian Art Museum

Art Daily
16 March 2014

The Asian Art Museum has configured 15 artworks from the museum’s collection to transform its Tateuchi Gallery into a three-dimensional mandala for the special exhibition.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Mandalas are geometric maps of Himalayan Buddhist visionary worlds, created by and for practitioners of Vajrayana Buddhism (“Lightning Vehicle” Buddhism), a system of meditation that is profoundly dependent on art and artists. Minutely detailed and saturated with philosophical meaning, these mandalas (most often paintings or sculptures) are a feast for the eyes and the mind.

The Asian Art Museum has configured 15 artworks from the museum’s collection to transform its Tateuchi Gallery into a three-dimensional mandala for the special exhibition Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism. Continue reading

‘Enter the Mandala’: Buddhism at the Asian Art Museum

Kenneth Baker
March 12, 2014

  • "The cosmic Buddha Amoghasiddhi" (c. 1275-1350) Tibet, Sakya Monastery, is part of the one-room exhibition looking at the symbolic structure of the painted mandala. Photo: Unknown

    “The cosmic Buddha Amoghasiddhi” (c. 1275-1350) Tibet, Sakya Monastery, is part of the one-room exhibition looking at the symbolic structure of the painted mandala. Photo: Unknown

Words such as “mandala” and “mantra” have moved from Asian cultures into colloquial use in the modern West, but few of us grasp their roots. The Asian Art Museum redresses that lack with a small exhibition, opening Friday, titled “Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism.”

This one-room show will use some of the Asian’s rare antiquities to evoke in real space the meditation exercise of entering mentally into the elaborate symbolic structure of a painted mandala. Jeff Durham, the museum’s associate curator of Himalayan arts, spoke about the show by phone. Continue reading

Bhumi Cakrawan: embodiment of belief in Thai architecture

The Nation
Wonchai Mongkolpradit
February 28, 2014

Buddhism has been active in the territory now defined as Thailand for over a thousand years, and its presence has inevitably influenced all aspects of life, both spiritual and mundane.

Indeed, core aspects of Thailand’s artistic and architectural traditions have developed in service to Buddhist principles of daily conduct.

The objective of Buddhism is the liberation of the spirit from suffering. To attain this goal, Buddhists must observe the following: (1) the practice of the three precepts of perception, concentration and wisdom, (2) the display of compassion to others, and (3) the exercise of self-sufficiency.

The application of these precepts in daily life leads the practitioner towards the discovery of the four Noble Truths: suffering, cause of suffering, enlightenment, and the path to enlightenment.

A propitious environment can aid the follower in his or her spiritual development. Architecture can play a significant role in an individual’s journey towards the four Noble Truths.

One of the main symbols in Buddhist architecture is the sacred pillar representing wisdom. This element is ubiquitous at various scales, from houses to villages and cities. The pillar is situated at the centre of a stable and calm perimeter, ideal for meditation. Continue reading