Tibetan Thankas and Newari Paubhas
Tibetan Thankas and Newari Paubhas
The art of the thanka and the paubha is inseparable from the spiritual background of Tantric Buddhism. Tantric (or Vajrayana) Buddhism emphasizes understanding humanity's true nature and embracing compassion through symbols, mantras, and meditation. Tantric ritual evolved with paintings, sculptures, dance, and music as mediums of expression to symbolize the ideal manifestation of Tantric deities. Tantra frequently equates the body with the cosmos, and Tantric deities can be thought of as embodiments of divine awareness and compassion.
A precise correspondence exists between the forms, colors, postures, and mudras (hand position) of these deities and the types of awareness that they are considered to manifest. For example, Ratnasambhava, one of the primordial Dhyani Buddha, is pictured as yellow (the color of grain), faces south, and has a mudra of bestowing blessings and gifts. Ratnasambhava grants riches of the earth and soil, and prosperity. Vairocana, also one of the primordial Dyani Buddha, is pictured as white, placed in the center, and has a mudra of teaching. Vairocana, "The Brilliant One", is the embodiment of pure Dharma, the master and the teacher. The symbol of color and mudra help to define the deity and the kind of energy they embody.
The art of representing and visualizing the deities through thankas/paubhas and meditation can lead to even more than a union with the deity. It can lead to an awareness that we truly are the deity and its manifestation. It is not simply a matter of following the path, but understanding that we are the path in all its perfection.
The thankas & paubhas in our collection are all painted freehand using traditional stone-ground pigments and gold by Buddhist artists. There are different kinds of thankas: Vilambu (based on spiritual epics or legends); Mandala (circle of deities and highly symbolic forms and colors of great spiritual power, often used as a meditation tool); Yantra (highly abstract tantric diagrams of great cosmic energy, the visual equivalent of the sound mantra); and portraits of deities and great mythical and historical spiritual leaders, teachers, and incarnate lamas.
According to tradition, Lord Buddha taught that thankas/paubhas are to be placed in monasteries.
MacroSun is honored to present our collection of these spiritual paintings from Tibetan and Nepalese artists.
ARTISTS OF THE TIBETAN THANKAS AND NEWARI PAUBHAS
The thankas in the collection come from a number of gifted Tibetan refugee artists and lamas in Nepal and India. Some are from the Tamang people of Yolmo, known popularly today as Helambu, the mountainous region of Nepal northeast of the Kathmandu valley. The people of Yolmo migrated from Tibet some centuries ago. They follow the Nyingma doctrine of Tantric Buddhist master Padma Sambhava. The arts of the region include clay sculpture, wood and stone carving, dance, music, and thanka painting in the traditional Tibetan style.
We are especially pleased to present our collection of Newari paubhas, an endangered art. The Newari people are the indigenous people of the Kathmandu valley, noted historically for their brilliant works of spiritual art and architecture. Paubhas are similar to the Tibetan thanka, but more "stylized," and occasionally show more Hindu influence from India. There are only a very small number (perhaps five) acknowledged, legitimate paubha painters left in Nepal today. We present the works of two highly respected paubha artists.
Mr. Gautam Ratna Vajracharya has studied paubha art with his brother, and studied Buddhist scripture and ritual with his father since early childhood. Unlike other paubha and thanka artists who merely visually copy existing or older works, Gautam works directly with the Buddhist scriptural texts in Sanskrit. His works are thus truly unique and original. He has had exhibitions through Europe, the Middle and Far East, and has four times been awarded First Prize from the Nepalese Fine Arts Association. Plates of his paubhas have been published in fine arts books and Buddhist art instructional texts in Japan.
Mr. Prakash Khadge is a self-taught Buddhist artist with a gift for expressing traditional thanka/paubha themes and deities in a contemporary, original style. His work shows clarity of mood through facial expression and body posture. His work has been exhibited in Europe.