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Harvey Mudd College

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

China: Health, Environment, and Traditional Chinese Medicine


Thangka painting is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist art form which depicts Buddhist deities. The deities must be made in very specific proportions, as it is believed that the deities can inhabit the paintings and thus the painting must be of the utmost beauty. Thangkas have a variety of uses, but they are mostly used as a means of gaining merit, in death rituals, during meditation, and in Buddhist ceremonies. In order to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism, I spent two and a half weeks studying thangka painting. I learned the entire process of creating a thangka, from the creation of the canvas to the final painting. I completed one painting of Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. In addition, I interviewed four individuals about thangka: a lama, a doctor, a thangka master, and an average Tibetan Buddhist. The objective of this study was to learn how studying the thangka art form can enhance our understanding of Tibetan Buddhism.

Creating this thangka has given me a basic understanding of Tibetan Buddhism and will serve as a way I can share Tibetan culture with others.


Asian Studies | Buddhist Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society


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