Tibetan Print and Thangka

Tibet 2014

In Tibetan Buddhism, meditation is one of the central tools to reach enlightenment. These art forms of Woodblock Printing and Thangka painting are forms of meditation in their own right.

Printing entails a number of steps, starting with hand-carving Tibetan Buddhist scripture into wood blocks. Each block is double sided. Thousands of these blocks make up each page of scripture. Each block is rubbed down with ink and then covered in crisp, tan sheets of blank scripture pages. Yak wool is used to rub the page against the ink-covered block, and the page is then flipped onto the next block. The repetition of these steps is a small sacrifice to pay for indoctrination into a higher order.

Thangkas are hand-painted visual narratives of Tibetan Buddhist Scripture. The intricate paintings are so precise that the very act of painting becomes meditation. A smaller Thankga, say one by two feet, could take a few days to complete, whereas larger Thankgas can take weeks or even months.