"Liberation

on seeing"

Himalayan tsakli and miniature thangkas

tsakli preservation and research

 

Notes on collecting and preservation

This article about preserving thangkas applies to both hand-made paper and cloth tsaklis: Thangkas are painted on a canvas support prepared and coated on both sides. Thangkas are rolled, as Chinese and Japanese works often are. The back of a thangka is as carefully prepared as the front, so that consecrated formulas, mantras, and other religious or historical writings can be inscribed on it. Before the 15th century, a pair of presentation frame textiles in cotton or silk was added by a single seam on its upper and its lower borders only, with the sides left unframed. Later thangka mounting included textiles on all four sides of the painting, usually in silk brocade.

All these particularities make restoration and conservation of thangkas a very specific job. Their conception, the place where they were kept and the way they were handled have also to be taken into consideration. Thangkas are exclusively religious works of art, honored in monasteries or private shrines, incessantly rolled and unrolled by the light of the butter lamps - this latter a cause of dirtiness we do not find in the painting of western countries. Many thangkas have been vandalized during the last 50 years as a result of the terrible cultural upheavals in Tibet during the period of the Cultural Revolution. This set of conditions causes specific mechanical wear, and alterations, which will be briefly described in this paper - http://asianart.com/articles/thangkas/index.html

DIGITAL RESTORATION is completely without risk as 

the original artwork is not touched, and only a digital

representation is repaired. Gaps in painting can be filled, colours enhanced to nearer their original pristine state, and the image can be enlarged to help us see all finer details of these miniature paintings.

 

A series of book based on these digital restorations

are in preparation, examples will be showcased here. 

Another aspect of my research involves in identifying and dating the images, and translating the texts usually found on reverse of the cards. I took bodhisattvha vows with the Kagyu (whispered transmission) school, but all Tibetan, Mongolian,

Nepalese and Bhutanese traditions are represented.

 

When I began collecting many years ago prices were low, especially for damaged or worn examples. These days prices are considerably higher, and in order to make new acquisitions I may have to sell a few items. Donations are welcome, or you can assist by buying the forthcoming books and by spreading the word about this fascinating, neglected form of sacred art.

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Victory of the Dharma banner 
badly worn C19thTibetan  tsakli 
before digital restoration and after enhancements (large).







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