School of Design

ULITA - an Archive of International Textiles

thangka
Date: mid 19th-early 20th Century
Dimensions: 135 x 92.5 cm (53 1/8 x 36 7/16 in.) Other (Panel): 75.5 x 52.4 cm (29 3/4 x 20 5/8 in.)
Medium: wood, silk, water colour pigment, cotton canvas, card tube, cotton edging, linen?
Made in: Tibet
Description: A painted thangka panel bordered in red/gold and yellow/gold silk brocade and inset into a brown and gold silk brocade hanging, with white cotton edging. The silk brocade designs include Buddhist symbols including the endless knot, umbrella, coin and pearl. The yellow brocade shows part of a larger dragon design. The hanging is suspended from a wooden batten and weighted by a card tube. The piece is backed by printed linen? material with a small blue/red/green floral design on a cross-hatch white ground. The painted panel is protected by a loose panel cover made of two yellow silk stripes and a central red silk stripe, with two hanging 'ribbons' of red silk. Stitching is machine produced. There are three calligraphic symbols in red ink on the reverse of the painted panel. The word thangka derives from the Tibetan language, and denotes a visual record of an event. Traditionally such objects were hung in temples to support prayer. Thangka painting was a family craft, reserved for the males only. The master made the sketch in charcoal and the son or apprentice added the colours. The design depicts the story of Buddha from the top left around the central image, including his mother's dream of a white elephant and the demons surrounding him. The Buddhist eight precious things are commonly given as the wheel (symbolizing the law), the conch shell (calls the faithful), the canopy (victory), the umbrella (nobility), the endless knot (destiny), the lotus (purity, the pair of fish (union of happiness and utility), and the vase (the elixir of heaven - enduring peace). Other symbols include the throne (representing the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama), the lion (regality, strength and power), the deer (Buddha taught in a deer park), the footprint of Buddha, the begging bowl, the mountain symbol, and the swastika. Many of these are present. The Bodhi tree refers to the tree under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment, the leaves are regarded as devotional symbols; it is often represented on top of the throne. Part of the Georgina and Raymond Mills Collection.
Inv. No.: 2012.184
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