There are multiple interpretations about the existence of Thangka. In the ancient times, it is deemed that King Bimbisara wished to give a unique gift or present to King Utayana; so he decided to get Buddha’s image painted for him. When Bimbisara sent the court artists and painters to design an image of Buddha then they were unable to do so because they were mesmerized by the sheer brilliance of Buddha.

On seeing all this, Lord Buddha asked the painters to accompany him to the clear pool and paint his picture using his reflection in the pool. During the painting process, Buddha guided the artists and asked them to paint twelve links around him. This is how this specific painting became famous as ‘Chu-len-ma’ or ‘the picture of the sage prepared through the water’. 


The Thangka artwork finds its roots from the traditional arts of mandala and pata. It is a shocking fact that Thangka painting is associated to Indian culture but it has got fame under the Chinese and Nepalese art. Do you know Buddhism emerged as an art style under the supremacy of Songsten Gampo? His studio was used by Chinese and Nepalese artists due to which Thangka painting attained its zenith under these artists.

During the 11th century, the Thangka art was influenced by Nepalese, Kashmiri, and central Indian artists and their indigenous art form continued till 17th century. Further, the Chinese artists started to influence this painting style from the starting of the 18th century.

Coming to the main Tibetan styles of paintings, they included Mensar, Menri, and Karma Gadri art forms. You must know that Thangka artworks were administered by the iconographic regulations, these 3 painting styles can be distinguished by backgrounds.

The Menri style focuses more on nature and less on details. The Mensar style is focused on the details & round, as well as thick clouds. And, the Karma Gadri style depicts things in a realistic manner and not in a stylish way. Also, it is not as famous as Menri and Mansar.


Apart from being just a décor piece, Thangka paintings are an essential part of Buddhist religion. These paintings signify inner reflection as well as meditation. You can gain control on your mind and achieve awareness of your surroundings with this exquisite painting. Additionally, it helps to attain good health, long life, happiness, and prosperity. The Thangka painting can address various concerns. 


As Thangka is a part of meditation, a defined set of rules should be followed before painters start painting it. Initially, there were several rules like avoiding meat, garlic, onion, alcohol, and more. However, the main idea is to have a pure body, mind, and surroundings. While designing a Thangka/Buddha painting, the artists should avoid all the negativity and impurity.


The first step in the painted process of Thangka includes the central lines. The middle vertical line is the major axis as it creates the centre of the artwork. The painting has 8 main lines, including 4 borders at the outside, one vertical axis, one horizontal axis, and 2 diagonal lines.

The deities are placed as per the Buddhist religion, and the order involves- first comes buddhas, then boddhisattvas, then goddesses, then wrathful entities, and at the end human beings. After painting these figures, the artists start creating the elements in the surroundings. Firstly, the background gets painted and then figures get colored.

At first, the artists will complete the painting with lighter paints and then they will use dark tones such as blue, green, red, orange, etc. They will wait for the first layer to get dry well so they can proceed with Thangka painting. The Thangka outline is done at last using two different shading techniques- wet and dry. As far as the color of Thangka is concerned, they are chosen as per the color of outlines, from white to indigo.


Now let us discuss the personality and unique traits of Buddha in Thangka paintings. His long fingers are positioned in a tapering position. They are highlighted by the dharamchakra. Having a twisted navel, white stomach, and broad shoulders, he looks well defined.


This is all a detailed guide about Thangka Buddha painting. It holds a great significance from Feng Shui view so it’s great for all spaces. If you want to surround yourself and your loved ones with positive and good vibes, then check out the collection at the Bimba for the best Buddha paintings.