Sincere hearts of thangka artists

Thangka, an outstanding cultural heritage of the Tibetan people, is a unique form of painting in Tibetan culture. During the 2019 two sessions of Tibet (the People’s Congress and the People's Political Consultative Conference ), thangka artists came to the Political Consultative Conference and actively vocalized the inheritance and development of thangka art.

Menchong Norbu Serta, who is the dean of the Tibet Thangka Painting Academy and a national-level inheritor of the “Miansa School” of thangka painting, said, “Today, the government builds public schools, provides teachers, and pays student fees. The teaching expenses for the Tibet Thangka Painting Academy are mainly funded through special intangible cultural heritage protection subsidies, income sales of thangka made by masters and students, and social donations. The Painting Academy and its students cherish learning opportunities, and their enthusiasm and awareness of learning is even higher. We hope that public and community-run schools and be integrated organically, so that they can share resources and share the concept of managing a school."

Phuntsok Tashi, the leader of the “Miantang School” Thangka Development Center in Shigatse City, said currently, young people’s interest in traditional handicrafts is declining, and many young people are reluctant to learn thangka and other crafts. “Some students who study thangka are flighty and impetuous. So I hope that we can prolong the time it takes to train thangka inheritors so that their professional level can be improved. In addition, although there are thangka classes at vocational and technical schools, most of these instructors are not professional teachers. We recommend having a strong professional faculty.”

Zhaba Tenzin, a thangka master of the “Qiwugangba school", said, “It used to be that my grandfather passed the tradition down to my father, and my father passed it down to me, so there are too many uncertain factors in this kind of familial inheritance method. I have now established an ethnic culture and handicraft industry and trade company in Riwoqe County, Chamdo City, southwest China's Tibet, which teaches students to learn thangka in a school setting. Right now we have over 100 students. I hope the government will increase its support for traditional handicraft projects such as thangka,” Dakpa Zhaba said.

Photo of Menchong Norbu Serta

Photo shows that Zhaba Tenzin is introducing his thangka art works to visitors.