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Thangka painting is one of the foremost expressions of Tibetan religion, culture, and art. The silk painting with embroidery usually depicts a Buddhist deity, famous scene or mandala of some sort.
After being circulated among monks and believers for hundreds of years, these Thangka have become rare artistic treasures. In Shanghai, visitors to the Urban Footprint Pavilion of the World Expo are being offered a rare access to these treasures.
Created in the 20th century, these Thangka have travelled the distance from Tibet to Shanghai especially for the ongoing Shanghai Expo.
Chen Xiejun, director of Urban Footprint Pavilion, said, "We all know that Thangka is a well-loved art of Tibetan people or the Chinese nation as a whole. As far as I've seen, the biggest Thangka painting is stored in Potala Palace. Eight strong men just can't move it."
Invented during the 7th and 8th century, the art of Thangka became widely popular in the 12th century. Thangkas can last a very long time and retain much of their luster. Therefore, they are regarded as a living encyclopedia of Tibetan culture and art.
Originally, Thangka painting became popular among travelling monks because the scroll paintings were easily rolled and transported from monastery to monastery. These Thangka served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities.
The Tibetan religious paintings offer a beautiful manifestation of the divine. And for the visitors, it's both visually and mentally stimulating.
A visitor said, "Thangka is a representation of the profound culture of Tibet. I love it very much."
Chinese ink and brush painting had a profound influence on Thangka painting in general.
Starting from the 14th century, Tibetan painting had incorporated many elements from the Han Chinese, and during the 18th century, ink painting had a deep and far-stretched impact on Tibetan visual art.