Tashi Dhargyal, a classically trained Thangka Master has opened a Tibetan gallery/studio right here in my home town of Sebastopol! Tashi has a 5 year lease to undertake the unique project of creating the first thanbhochi painted by a Tibetan outside of Tibet.
Thangka are traditional Tibetan Buddhist art that are scroll-like paintings of Buddhas, deities, and mandalas mounted in brocade frames. For followers of Buddhism, these pieces would be placed in shrine-like areas, and used to help illustrate and deepen meditation practices, or Buddhist teachings. They are a way of recording teachings and stories.
And, a thanbhochi is a very large thangka that is shown at special prayer ceremonies and brings blessings to all who view it. To be able to watch this creative and spiritual process emerge on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly bases is incredibly auspicious and we are awed and honored that it is happening here in our back yard.
Tashi’s thanbhochi is 2 stories high and 14 feet wide and will take several years to complete. He is doing this here in America to expand the understanding of thangka painting to the growing western Buddhist population, and to raise awareness of this dying traditional art form.
His mission is to preserve the Menris tradition and traditional methods of thangka painting which is an important and integral part of his Tibetan culture, plus to gather donations to help support and preserve one of the few schools left in the world that teaches this ancient spiritual art form.
It is amazing that we will be able to watch this process from start to finish. From the stretching of this large cotton canvas, the curing of it with animal skin glues, and the mixing of the natural mineral pigment paints and real gold by hand…this process of mixing each color alone can take between 3 to 6 days each, to complete. All this before even beginning to draw and paint.
When this extremely large scale thangka is completed it will tour museums and monasteries before ultimately being donated to a monastery in Kham, Eastern Tibet. To learn how you can help support Tashi in this endeavor and to help support this education process, you can visit the Tibetan Gallery website.
While I am not a Buddhist myself, I can and do appreciate each and every ancient art form, especially one that is based in grace and spirit. Blessed by Tibetan Monks, and The Dalai Lama himself, plus supported by many people like you and me, we will be lucky to see this complex and deep art form continue!
To catch just a glimpse of this intricate process check out the video below, and click on it to see more videos.
You too can see it in person right here at the Barlow in Sebastopol. Be sure to stop by when you are in town. Perhaps I’ll see you there?