Region sets standards of paint, cloth, skill of Thangka paintings


A flock of black-necked cranes winter in Lhundrub country, the Tibet autonomous region. Jinme Gyatso /  for China Daily

Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region is setting the standard for Thangka painting - a traditional style of Tibetan Buddhist painting - local authorities said recently.

Wang Chen, director of the institute for standardization under the regional bureau of quality and technical supervision, said that the standards will define all aspects of Thangka from the cloth and pigments used to the skill of the painter.

The standards, to be issued this year, include rating principles for Thangka products, according to Wang Chen.

They are designed to improve the quality of work and protect practitioners of the traditional craft.

Thangka is a form of silk painting that dates back to the Tibetan Tubo Kingdom (about AD 629-840). They are always painted with mineral and organic pigments derived from materials such as coral, agate, sapphire, pearl and gold, and their colors can last for centuries.

Thangka paintings, murals, patchwork crafts and sculptures were listed as part of humanity's intangible cultural heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2009.

As a Buddhist art form, Thangka paintings are often hung on the walls of the homes of Tibetan families for worship. They are also sold as souvenirs for tourists to Tibet and other ethnic Tibetan areas.

In recent years, the Thangka market has thrived. More than 3,000 people are engaged in the industry in Tibet.

"As Thangka becomes increasingly popular, we should standardize Thangka production and marketing to develop the excellent art," said Nyima Tsering, an official with the regional culture department.