Tibetan Appliqué

The first ever painting of Lord Buddha, it was believed, was painted from the images of the Buddha reflected on water. Some believed that the painting of the Buddha, given as a gift for worship to king Uddiyana, was the first ever painting of Lord Buddha.

In Tibet, painting is used from the time of the Neolithic period (3000 BC) since it was found on the archeological discovery of human dwellings at Karu, Chamdo in Kham in eastern Tibet. But the painting of Lord Buddha was first started in Tibet during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo (630 AD).

Many of the religious paintings in Tibet are in the form of Thangka. It is a portable scroll banner, which depicts a religious art form and used as a valuable medium through which Buddhist ideals are expressed. The practitioners reflect and meditate on them in order to improve his or her spiritual well being. It is considered as a sacred object and not just a decorative art object.

Different kinds of non-painted Thangkas:

  1. Embroidered thangka
  2. Glued appliqué thangka
  3. Appliqué thangka
  4. Woven thangka
  5. Block or Screen Printed on cloth thangka

Each has its own backgrounds and unique features, but here we will focus only on appliqué thangka.

Origin of Tibetan Appliqué
It was first started by the fourth Karmapa Rolpai Dorjee (1340-1383 AD) who asked his followers to put white stones on the place where he rode his horse to build a huge brocade appliqué thangka. The open space marked with white stones were covered with cloth and later sewn together. Soon after that other religious sects also started making it for their own monastery and improved the technique of making it.

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