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A special exhibition featuring religious scroll paintings unique to Tibetan Buddhism will be shown at the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei from Sept. 17 through Nov. 23.
Crafted with skills originating from Nepal, a thangka is typically made by painting or embroidering a cotton canvas, and then mounting the canvas with silk. Athough, there are also a handful that are made with metal instead.
The subject matter of a thangka depicts deities, motifs, and influential figures from the Buddhist school of thought, and the scroll is used as a teaching tool as well as a devotional image.
Different techniques and materials are used to reflect the intrinsic qualities of the subject matter, including a gold background for deities associated with peace and longevity. Therefore, thangka artists require deep religious training and knowledge.
The Taipei exhibition will feature influential figures such as Guru Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism; Thangtong Gyalpo, an accomplished Buddhist master and founder of Tibetan opera; Saraswati, a Buddhist goddess of wisdom; Shakaymuni Buddha (black canvas), the founder of Buddhism; Manjushree (red canvas), an enlightened deity; and White Tara (golden canvas), the main deity of longevity.
Other instructional thangkas will include a guide to nine-step meditation; a pictured sequence of how one-pointed meditation can be achieved; and two scrolls on medical plants and astrology. Several auspicious metal thangkas that were once attached to the outer walls of a Tibetan monastery will also be on display.
The two-month exhibition is made possible by the support of the Ministry of Culture, the R.O.C. Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, the Mongolian and Tibetan Cultural Center in Taipei, and the Taiwan Tibetan Buddhism Unity Association.