An exhibition wrapped up over the weekend at the Shanghai International Arts Festival, which showcased 10 items of intangible cultural heritage from the Tibet autonomous region.
Thangka is generally regarded as the most representative form of Tibetan art works.
Painted on cotton or silk, a Thangka usually depicts Buddhist deities, scenes, or religious symbols, intended for personal meditation or instruction of monastic students.
A Thangka is not large, usually no more than 60 centimeters in width and one meter in length. But painting a Thangka takes time.
“It can take up to two years to finish a Thangka. It will take me at least 20 days to finish what I’m working on,” said Luobusida, Thangka artist.
Thangka paintings can last for hundreds of years and the colors hardly fade. We can still find numbers of well-preserved Thangkas once used in the Potala Palace and temples in Tibet. That is due to the pigments used by Thangka painters, which are all made from ores.
“Ores are not difficult to find, from home and abroad. But the distinguished climate and geographic characteristic of Tibet formed the unique features of ores. So that gives unique colors to the pigments,” said Professor Nagwang Jigme, Tibet University.
Besides paintings, Tibetans have had their own script since the 7th century, which was influenced by the Indian language.
“There are mainly eight genres of calligraphy arts in Tibet. We can mainly find them on scriptures,” calligrapher Zhaxi Dunzhu said.
Visitors can also learn about Tibetan dramas, medicine and costumes by talking to artists at the exhibition.
“I just know Hada or their traditional costumes. I learned a lot in this exhibition,” a visitor said.
This year is the 50th anniversary of democratic reform in Tibet. China’s central government has spent over 120 million yuan ($18.95 million) on preservation and restoration of culture heritage in the region.