As some of you saw in my last blog post, I was lucky enough to spend last weekend at the LaRu festival in Rebkong valley.  Rebkong is extremely famous throughout Tibet and is the artistic heart of the area.  At the center of that heart is the Thangka (pronounced ‘tanka’).

Thangkas are traditional hand created paintings that represent many different things in Tibetan Buddhism, many of which serve as a sort of history of the people as well as religious purposes.  Thangkas are made in several places throughout the plateau region, but the most sought out are decidedly from Rebkong valley.  Rebkong valley thangkas are in virtually every monastery in Tibet.

I was able to stay at a friend’s house whose family includes well-known thangka painters.  It was amazing to see them working and see the sheer quality of the craftsmanship that has been handed down from generation to generation.  I was absolutely blown away by the detail that goes into these thangkas.  I more than once saw them painting with brushes that literally only had a few hairs on them.  On top of that some of these thangkas are huge (30 meters wide and long). Some can take over three years to produce and although they aren’t necessarily sold just as art, they can sell for more than $100,000 USD.

The craftsmanship of these thangka painters is truly amazing.

RebKong Tankas – Images by Brian Hirschy