Pious paintings

Updated: 2012-11-26 09:54

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

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Pious paintings

The ancient Tibetan art of thangka is being revived by the younger generation of painters, such as this artist from a Lhasa school. Photos provided to China Daily

An ongoing exhibition of Tibetan thangka pieces retreats from the genre's commercialization. Chen Nan reports.

Tibetan Zekyid spent more than three months working on his painting, The Pure Land of Sakyamuni Buddha.

It depicts Sakyamuni teaching his two disciples. Standing above are Manjushri - the embodiment of wisdom - and White Tara - who represents the virtues of work and good health.

The 28-year-old from Sichuan province's Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture paints thangka, the distinctive Tibetan scrolls that depict the ethnic group's deities.

The radiant circles around the figure are golden. The colorful clothes, animals, flowers and clouds are rendered using natural pigments ground from minerals, coral and plants.

Zekyid paints at least 10 hours a day. He says he never feels bored and his heart is tranquil while painting.

He applies a traditional Tibetan ointment to soothe his eyes after working.

Zekyid's painting was displayed at the National Museum of China in September and is now on show at The Flavor of The Sun - Thangka Art Exhibition at SkyMoca art museum in Beijing's 798 Art Zone.

Zekyid and nine other young thangka painters - all Tibetans ages 18-28 from Sichuan and Qinghai provinces - are showing 40 paintings they created over the past 14 months.

"Painting these sacred images not only demands great patience and focus but also a pure heart," Zekyid says.

He loved drawing birds and trees in his childhood and started studying thangka painting at 19.

"Painting makes me happy," he says.

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