Navin Kumar Gallery

Tibetan Paintings

A Study of Tibetan Thankas: Eleventh Century to Nineteenth Century

Pratapaditya Pal

Tibetan paintings
Table of Contents:
Front matter
0 Preface
1 Introduction
2 Visions and Visualizations
3 Kadampa Style
4 Sakyapa Style
5 Thankas from Western Tibet
6 Landscape Tradition
7 Age of the Dalai Lama
8 Appendix
Color Plates
Monochrome Figures

The Goddess Tara
Central Tibet, ca. 1300
52.1 x 43 cm
The Cleveland Museum of Art
The J.H. Wade Fund by exchange
This book is dedicated to all freedom-loving Tibetans, as well as to the Yuthok family and especially to Jigme and Omola.

This book is the first attempt since 1949, when Giuseppe Tucci published his monumental opus on Tibetan painting, to present a lucid and concise analysis of the styles and aesthetics of Tibetan thankas. Most books on Tibetan are devoted largely to iconography, but in this volume the author has written a history of the various styles of thankas that prevailed in Tibet between the eleventh and nineteenth centuries.

The interest of this book lies also in the fact that the author has placed particular emphasis on the earlier style which flourished between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries. The book is profusely illustrated with one hundred and fifteen color plates and several black and white illustrations. While the color plates reproduce a number of well-known thankas from major museums and collections, the majority of the thankas have not been published heretofore. Both in terms of illustrations and the text, the book will remain an important contribution to the history of thankas.

Ravi Kumar, Publisher

As for the Tibetan artist himself, he knows that his own skill, be it great or small, must on pain of being self-defeating’ be both inspired by, and dedicated to, the all-determining spiritual Norm; and this Norm, on its own showing is ego-negating, it excludes in principle all individualistic exhibitionism. Such is the nature or artistic inspiration in the Tibetan world: the more closely we are able to identify ourselves with this point of view, the nearer we will get to understanding what Tibetan art is all about.