It’s especially important for us to offer only traditionally produced statues and thangkas in our shop. We honour the traditional manufacturing methods as a cultural heritage worth preserving.
Information for producing statues
Traditionally, the method of cire perdue is chiefly used for producing normal sized statues in Nepal, i.e. with a negative wax mould. The sculptor perceives this time consuming procedure as a ritual: it is possible for him to positively influence his karma by working on a sacred statue.
Around a clay core which roughly reproduces the contours of statues to be created, the tiniest details are carved into a wax model which corresponds with the same proportion and form of each iconographical guideline. The wax model is then carefully multi-layered with a fine clay substance. When the figure is heated causing the wax to melt, the mould remains as an outer clay layer and an inner clay core.
Mainly cooper is used for moulding material or metal alloy with a cooper base, for example as also with bronze. Silver and gold as moulding material are only seldomly used.
After the metal cools, the outer clay layer is shattered in order to break the mould.
The resulting reproduction of the wax model, the unfinished casting, has to be intricately reworked. If the outer surface of the statue’s appearance turns out symmetrical, there are various possibilities for finishing it.
Many statues are still being completely gilded.
Others are being patinated and will ultimately have a brownish, shiny bronze appearance after extensive polishing.
The so-called three colour statues have a partially gilded and brownish body, whereas the face is refined with a layer of golden powder.
A rarity of the outer layer workmanship is illustrated by the stone finish. The metal casting will receive a stone appearance.
Information for producing thangkas
A great deal of the present thangka production is manufactured in Nepal and sold on location to tourists. Numerous painters’ workshops have specialised in rapidly producing scrolls since low manufacturing costs are the top priority. The use of traditional materials, the iconography, and artistic workmanship are hardly respected under these conditions.
Thus, the artists contributing to the production of correct iconographical thangkas, based on the century old instructions which preserve this cultural heritage, are of even greater importance.
Serving as the medium is a fine, cotton cloth; seldom linen or silk. The cotton cloth is primed with a compound from limestone and glue tempera; subsequently, smoothed and tightly stretched in a wooden frame. The stringent iconometrical specifications are preliminarily outlined with charcoal and the aid of a precisely defined screen. Sometimes stencils or printing plates are used for this.
After the introduction of synthetic paints, mostly natural pigments will continue to be used for the traditional thangka paintings. For particularly precious pieces, also gold leaf and gold powder are added.
The painting method can be described as glue tempera, which means the glue tempera binds the individual paint particles together and pasting them to the priming. Layer after layer, first the light, and thereafter the dark colours are painted.
First the large surfaces of the background, then the figures and finally the details, such as golden jewellery or the garment patterns.
To conclude, the faces of the figures are created and their eyes “opened”.
Similar to statues, thankgas are likewise not signed by artists. The production of thangkas is perceived as a ritualistic process, which promises the artist a positive influence on his karma. Credence motivated by the ego would diminish the merit.
Furthermore, most scrolls are created in cooperation with several painters.
Dependent on the degree of difficulty, trainees to master artists with various educational levels contribute from the priming of the background image up to the finely drawn faces of the illustrated figures. Scrolls produced by only one artist are a rarity.
Upon completion, traditional linen canvass paintings of Tibetan Buddhism are brocaded with valuable silk or damask.
Sometimes the blessings given during the ritualistic initiation of a thangka are adhered to the reverse side of the picture.