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Tibetan Thangka painting

Thangka painting is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist art form, which has been practiced in Tibet since from 7th century. Thangka simply is the Tibetan word for painting.

Thangka is a painting of various deities and venerable teachers such as the historical Lord Buddha Shakyamuni rimmed by colorful silk. These images inspire through their beauty, but also, a painted deity is a visual support for those who practice meditation.

The origins of Thangka painting is dated back to Buddha time and stretch even further. Lord Buddha lived about 2600 years ago in India, where He taught the Holy Dharma to a large following and also instructed and inspired many artists. The painted image had its origin in the country of Magadha, which is Bihar of central India, where Buddha was enlighten under a Banyan tree there. As Lord Buddha's Teachings flourished in India beyond His lifetime, His Teachings spread to neighboring countries like Tibet, to establish Buddhism in Tibet, the innovative 33rd Tibetan king Songsten Gampo married the Chinese princess Wencheng in early seventh century. She brought scriptures of Lord Buddha's Teachings, Buddhist sculptures and paintings, and also introduced a Chinese style of painting in Tibet by bringing some artisans with her from China. The princess was highly respected by Tibetans and she was the one of the key figure to introduce Buddhist artistic traditions in Tibet. She encouraged spreading the traditions of painting and sculpture widely throughout central and eastern Tibet. This early stage of Tibetan Thangka painting has been referred to as the old Gardri style which is the origin of graphic arts in Tibet. Another style of Tibetan Thangka painting called Menri, was introduced in Tibet from Nepal in the 9th century. Gadri has been established in the Eastern part of Tibet, whereas Menri is in Central and Western part of the country. In the 16th century, the Gadri style experienced a renaissance from the influence of the great artist Namka Tashi, who was linked to the Great Saint Mikyo Dorje, later the 8th Karmapa. made significant contributions, also the artists Cho Tashi and Kasho Karma Tashi brought changes from their artistic contribution, these three artists established the Karma Gadri style of Tibetan Thangka painting.

Song and dances

Tibet is also known as “Ocean of songs and dances”, dancing and singing is extensively spread throughout Tibet since from centuries ago, songs and dances are widely categorized as wedding songs, love songs, archery songs, circular dancing songs, folk songs, drinking songs, labor songs as so on, they are deeply connected with their daily life, specially during the festivals people spend whole days of dancing and sing with their traditional dresses.

Tibetan opera is date back its origin in 15th century, it was founded by first Tibetan engineer Thangthong Gyalpo, who built 108 chain bridges within Tibet and he started the Tibetan opera with seven brothers to rise funds and materials to build the bridges, since than it became one the most popular public show that mostly play during the festivals.

On the vast plateau of Tibet, nomad shepherds are lonely catering herds of their animals in the alpine grassland, but they are accompanying by their songs and they are express all their feelings through songs in the open nature, that is also how they practice their voices.

Sky burials

The Tibetan custom of sky burial in which corpses are dismembered and fed to vultures has attracted mixed feelings of revulsion, fear and awe among outside visitors. Yet it is important that the custom is no the only means of disposing of the dead in Tibet, but it is the most popular throughout the Tibet.

Since Tibetan are strongly practicing Buddhism and believing death and rebirth from their own Buddhist teachings. Following the moment of the death, the consciousness or spirit will leave from the deceased body and the body is thought to return to one of the elements- earth, air, fire, water or wood. Through there are also other means of burial practicing in Tibet, but it is only subjected to some limited conditions. Cremation is mostly use for high lamas and the ashes placed in a stupa as funeral tombs. Earth burial is also rare and those who are dead by poison or communicable diseases will buried. Water burial-where the deceased body fed to fishes, it is mostly reserved for small children.

After several days of ritual officiation by monks will help the consciousness to transfer from the deceased body and then guide it to the next life. Then the corpse brings to the sky burial site. There are several holy sky burial sites around Tibetan plateau including Sera Shar and Dregong Thill in central Tibet; and Darling monastery in Golok. Corpses may be carried long distances fro dismemberment at one of the preferred sites. There specialized monks or lay people at the burial site works at the sky burial site, the corpses cut into shreds and feed to vultures, bones also crushed and mixed with Tsampa and feed at the end. The vultures mostly staying nestling near by mountain of the sky burial site and are summoned by an offering of incense. They are revered as birds of purity, subsisting only on corpses.

Tibetans are not only people to dispatch the dead in this way. The Parsees in India follow a similar custom. However the ancient Parsee religious custom may soon disappear because the vultures that eat the bodies are headed for extinction in India. Populations of both the long-billed and white-backed vulture have crashed since 1996 due to a virus of some kind.

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