Thanka are religious paintings that used to be worshiped as icons in Nepalese and Tibetan culture. It is believed that Thanka painting has been started in 11th century A.D.
Thanka Painting also known as Paubha are of various types.
First is illustrative paintings of god and goddesses like Tara (white, red, green, blue or yellow), Mahakala, Bajrayogini, Lord Buddha, Tsongkhapa, Milarepa, Karmapa, Padmasambhava, Manjushri and many more.
Second is Wheel of life that detailed representation of basic Buddhist belif i.e. the transmigratory exsistance, it explains in a most lucid manner the theory of rebirth. The wheel is held in the embrace of Shenje (ruler of the Dead) showing that all beings must eventually meet Death. The wheel is divided into axle, spokes and rim.
Third is Mandala (Literally mean a Circle) is a Tantric meditations device. It is a visual aid for concentration and introversive meditation leading to the attainment of insight and to activation of forces culminating in "Siddi" supernatural forces. The Mandala is the graphic representation of this process.
All these Thankas are painted on silk or cotton fabrics using brilliant colors of many hues. Thankas have developed in the northern Himalayan region among Lamas. Besides Lamas, Gurung and Tamang communities are also painting Thankas. But these days other communities also started Thanka Painting.
Importance of Thanka
Most of the Thanka viewer simply think that Thanka is an art of Buddhist monk other else nothing. But, the Buddhist scholar of higher intellectuality revere it with entire homage considering mystic power of Lamaistic deities. In accordance with the religious culture, the Thanka to be kept at the worship room sanctifies with holy water muttering mantras to enliven Thankas mystics power and puts khada (a two feet long cloth) on it. Since then the devotee use to bow his/her head before it at the time of worship specially in the morning time.