The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

India and Southeast Asia

What is a thangka?

The thangka is a painted banner, and an important form of Tibetan art. Thankgas often depict important people such as spiritual and political leaders in a way similar to Byzantine icons, which suggests that those individuals depicted in thankgas have reached a semi-divine status. The Thankga of Green Tara is nearly two feet long and depicts the protective Tibetan deity, Green Tara, who personifies transcendent wisdom and is often thought of as the universal mother figure to buddhas. Made with ink and color on canvas, this thirteenth-century thangka shows the deity surrounded by architectural forms and seventeen species of the bodhi tree. This particular thangka is part of the Indian and Southeast Asian art collection at the Cleveland Art Museum.


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