Historicity and Decoration of Tibetan Tangka Art

Chuyin Wang
Illustration (School of Graduate Studies)

About this Item

Historicity and Decoration of Tibetan Tangka Art
Contributor Names
Wang, Chuyin (Author)
Reitschel, Barbara (Thesis advisor)
Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York. Illustration (Degree granting institution)
Degree Information
M.A. Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York 2023
Department: Illustration
Advisor: Barbara Reitschel
Committee member: Brendan Leach
This paper explores the history of Tangka, which is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton and silk. It existed from Tibet and from early 7C AD to the present. It has nine different forms, but this paper mainly focuses on the three most essential painting schools, Mian Tang School, Chinze School, and Karma Gazi school. The paper will also explore its impact on contemporary illustration.
Tangka, this unique artistic style, has been enduringly advocated and respected by the Tibetan people as a precious treasure because it is a pleasing work of art and a spiritual guide for the devout Buddhist believers. This paper is going to unfold the history of Tangka from different perspectives in the following order. First, the different histories of Tangkas as they are divided into different painting schools. Mian Tang School are focusing on the use of lines, Chinze School have Rich colors and Karma Gazi school are Emphasis on composition. Second, the drawing style. Tangka is a serious matter because the process of drawing a Tangka is considered to be an act of accumulating virtue and worshiping the Dharma, rather than the artist’s self-expression as they please. In addition, all the pigments for painting Tangkas are made of mineral pigments. These natural raw materials ensure the vivid color of the Tangka. Therefore, even though the Tangka may be hundreds of years old, they remain bright in color. These steps make it sometimes even take ten years to draw a Tangka. This paper is going to introduce the making process of Tangka. Third, the themes of Tangka. They are extensive in that the content of includes Tibetan history, politics, culture, medical and social life. That is why Tangka can be called an encyclopedia of Tibetans.
Finally, Tangka’s painting skills are superb, and the composition is even more unusual. Each, in Tangka, has a different appearance, subtle and vivid expressions, delicate and smooth lines, orderly organization, and precise levels. How did the painters reflect this voluminous content in the scroll at hand? How can appreciation of this collection of exquisite and grandiose tangka help learning contemporary illustrations?
Tankas (Tibetan scrolls)
Art, Tibetan
Buddhist painting
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FIT Repository ID: etd_000994


Wang, C. (2023). Historicity and Decoration of Tibetan Tangka Art [Master's thesis, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York]. FIT Institutional Repository. https://institutionalrepository.fitnyc.edu/item/179273
Wang, Chuyin. Historicity and Decoration of Tibetan Tangka Art. 2023. Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, Master's thesis. FIT Digital Repository, https://institutionalrepository.fitnyc.edu/item/179273
Wang, Chuyin. "Historicity and Decoration of Tibetan Tangka Art." Master's thesis, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, 2023. https://institutionalrepository.fitnyc.edu/item/179273