Traditionally, Thangkas or Scroll paintings were painted by monks. On market days and at celebrations, in villages and pilgrimage sites, traveling monks and lamas unrolled Thangkas and told stories about saints and deities as they pointed out elements in the painted oilcloth. For protection, pilgrims and travelers would take a rolled-up thangka along on their perilous journeys. Both uses are still in practice, but to a lesser degree than years ago.
Thangkas function as a religious aid in ritual actions and as a help to meditation. Thangkas are also commissioned for the protective and positive force they radiate when there is an illness, death, or other life obstacles.
Composition is usually symmetrical with the main figure in the middle and less important deities on the sides. Hierarchy is central to the ordering of appearance of supreme teachers at the top and in decreasing order of importance: Yidams, bodhisattvas, dakinis, and lesser deities. There is also a hierarchy of size in the Tibetan pantheon. Thangkas are seldom signed as they are not considered "art"...as they are used as an aid in spiritual practice. These Thangkas are "signed" on the back, however with symbols, not names. Some of these symbols are an endless knot, a stupa, yin yang.
The following selection of Tibetan Thangkas is a rather rare and very fine painting. They are approximately 50- 100 years old. The gold paint is 24 K gold.
My Religion is Very Simple. My Religion is Kindness. -Dalai Lama