A brief introduction of the art of Regong thangka
A thangka, sometimes spelt as thangga, tangka, thanka or tanka, is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on paper or cotton that is enshrined in temples after being mounted on a silk foundation. As a category of the thangka art as well as one of the manifestations of Regong art, Regong tangka originated and developed with the emergence and popularization of the Tibetan Buddhism in the region of Regong in China’s northwestern Qinghai province.

Featuring extremely diverse subjects ranging from history, politics, culture to social life of the Tibetan people, with religion themes the most commonly-seen, especially Buddha images, Regong thangka counts as an encyclopedia of the Tibetans.

Gold and silver is commonly used in this art. Xi Hedao is pasting gold foils onto thangkas.

Thangkas Made by Xi Hedao
Born in Tongren county of Qinghai province, Chakna Dorjé is a renowned artist of Regong Thangka who started to learn thangka-making in childhood. Featuring delicate and intricate compositions, meticulously drawn and arranged lines, diversified illustration of characters as well as fabulous and decorous styles, the thangka paintings, crafted by Xi Hedao thanks to his integration of advantageous skills from various categories based on the inheritance of traditional skills, have not only been well-received in the folk, but also won acknowledgement from professionals of arts and crafts.

Xi Hedao is painting a thangka.

The Eighteen Arahants. This thangka painting is centered on Shakyamuni, beneath whom standing his two disciples, Sariputta and Maudgalyayana both holding a khakkhara in one hand and a Buddha bowl in the other. The three are surrounded by the Eighteen Arahants, sixteen arahants with two aryas actually, who were introduced to Tibetan Buddhism from the Han Buddhism as a matter of fact. But the arahants are arranged in an order different from that in the Han belief.

Shakyamuni. The founder of Buddhism Shakyamuni is one of the most commonly-seen subjects of thangka paintings.

Shakyamuni. The Buddhism founder Shakyamuni, with a benevolent smile and a poised bearing, is seated on the lotus flower in front of a thriving bodhi tree. Besides him stand his two chief disciples, and beneath him rest a group of monks who are listening to the Buddha’s sermon.

Shakyamuni. The invention of golden thang-la was to attire the Buddha in golden garments so as to create an artistic atmosphere of omnipresence of the Buddhist blessings. Featuring only a few characters, this piece illustrates each in every detail.

Vajrapāni. Known for the Vajra he is holding, Vajrapāni is believed to be the incarnation of Mahāsthāmaprāpta’s anger.

Yamāntaka (black thangka). As one of the three main Buddha worshipped by the Gelug sect of the Tibetan Buddhism, Yamāntaka is usually associated with supreme awe as he subdues all evil beings as well as supreme virtue as he safeguards the practice of kindness.

Six-arm Mahākāla. The Sanskrit word “Mahākāla” is equivalent to “Daheitian” in Chinese and Gönpo in Tibetan meaning “guardian”. Having been inherited via many generations, this Buddha is manifested in dozens of transformations including six-arm, four-arm, white body, etc., each of which is highly revered in all the sects of the Tibetan Buddhism.

Atiśa. Atiśa is recognized as the most important figure who contributed to the rejuvenation of Buddhism in Tibet after the anti-Buddhist Tibetan emperor Langdarma’s efforts to forbid the Buddhist faith.

Jambhala. Also called “Yellow Deity of Wealth” because of his yellow skin, Jambhala is the head of the five deities of wealth worshiped by all the sects of the Tibetan Buddhism. Besides, he also serves as a guardian for the Tibetan Buddhism.

Four-arm Avalokiteśvara (black thangka). As one of the categories of thangkas, the black thangka features a black foundation and golden line drawing, usually embellished with colors.

Four-arm Avalokiteśvara (partial).

Manjushri and His Transformations (Colorful thangka). Manjushri is one of the four most well-known bodhisattvas of Buddhism that is associated with supreme wisdom. This thangka painting features an image of Manjushri in the center, surrounded by his transformations in the four corners. The flaming sword the Buddha is holding in his right hand represents cutting down all the ignorant and obscure, while the lotus flower in his left hand symbolizing purity and tranquility.

Four-arm Avalokiteśvara (partial). This piece illustrates in details a glorious-looking smiley Four-arm Avalokiteśvara wearing a Five Dhyani Buddha Crown, a commonly-seen subject in thangka paintings.

White Tara. As the female Buddha of long life, acknowledged as one of the “Three Buddhas of Longevity” in Tibetan Buddhism, White Tara is believed to be born out of the compassionate tears from Avalokitesvara's left eye.

Four-arm Avalokiteśvara (golden thangka). This piece of golden thangka Four-arm Avalokiteśvara was painted with a mixture of gold, fine silver and ox glue in fixed proportions, which creates such a golden color that makes the image look sacred and sumptuous.

China Intangible Heritage Industry Alliance
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