Thanka: color on fabric
Image: 78.2 x 62.9 cm (30 13/16 x 24 3/4 in.); Overall: 100 x 66.7 cm (39 3/8 x 26 1/4 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 2000.68
This temple banner (thangka) with the seated image of Amitabha in the center flanked by enlighened beings called Bodhisattvas, represents a slightly later version of the same Western Tibetan style as the miniature painting of Preaching Buddha also shown here. This painting is unfinished, however, revealing very fluid and accomplished ink draw-ing underneath. Normally, once the colors were applied, the drawing would not have been visible. Here the artist got as far as applying only three basic colors: white (often used as the ground), red, and black. The painting dates to the 12th century, which makes it one of the earliest Western Tibetan style thangkas known.
Like the miniature painting (2000.67), this thangka relates to the museum's two 11th-century sculptures from the Western Himalayas-the bronze Standing Buddha (1966.30, on view in Gallery 116) and the polychromed wooden sculpture of a Seated Buddha (1986.6, not currently on view) The paintings replicate the style found in the two sculptures. Both the Tabo and Tholing Monasteries, where the paintings were recovered, were founded by King Yesheö of Guge in the 11th century.
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