About Thangka Karma Gardri

Thangkas

Thangkas are traditional Tibetan iconographic paintings of Buddhist deities used for visualisation practices and also depicted in Buddhist temples in the form of frescoes. Because so many Tibetans lived as Nomads, most Thangkas are sewn into a brocade frame, which can easily be attached to the flexible, rounded shape of tent walls. Moreover, the thin wooden rail at the bottom of the brocade frame allows the thangka to be rolled up neatly and transported when travelling.

Chenrezig

Karma Gardri

Karma Gardri is one of the most prestigious old traditions of Thangka painting dating back to 16th century Tibet and founded by the great incarnate master Namkha Tashi. "Karma Gardri" (karma sgar bris) or the "camp style" of the Karma Kagyu School of Buddhism historically holds a strong connection with the lineage of the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu School, the Karmapa. The 10th Karmapa Choying Dorje (chos dbyings rdo rje 1604-1674) was one of the most outstanding artists among the Karmapa incarnations and one of the schools he trained in was the Karma Gardri. When the Karma Gardri tradition came into existence it brought together the most excellent features of the Tibetan, Chinese and Indian schools of iconography, leading to an exquisitely refined style with a delicate series of exact proportions to be used for each different deity.



Gega Lama

Gega Lama (1931-1996) was the renowned and much loved master of Karma Gardri Thangka painting who brought this tradition to India when he fled his home country Tibet in 1959 to escape from the Chinese invasion.

Born in the small village of Rinchen Ling in the district of Upper Lingkar, Eastern Tibet, Gega Lama started his training at the age of eight with calligraphy lessons and received further education in Buddhist doctrine, dance, painting and music when he entered the monastery of Chokor Namgyal Ling at Tsabtsa. In 1947, aged 16, he took up the study of thangka painting with the renowned master Thangla Tsewang. By the age of twenty-two Gega Lama was recognized as an artist in his own right.



When fleeing Tibet at the age of 28, he had to leave his books, diagrams and other valuable resources behind in his home country. During his first years as a refugee in India, he learned the art of casting images, vajras, bells, and so forth in bell-metal and bronze with the artisan Damcho.

As it became clear that there was a growing demand for Tibetan Thangka painting, Gega Lama applied himself to rebuilding the invaluable body of diagrams and methods necessary to the painting of Tibetan Thangkas. In 1981 he wrote and published a unique and unprecedented complete guide book on the drawing and painting of Tibetan Thangkas under the title ´Principles of Tibetan Art´, which was received with delight by experts and students throughout the world. He faithfully preserved and transmitted his tradition and taught many devoted students, including his own son and successor Tharphen Lingtsang.

Tharphen Lingtsang

Tharphen Lingtsang (1973, Darjeeling, India) Tharphen is the son of the late Tibetan Master of Karma Gardri painting Gega Lama, author of one of the foremost books on Thangka painting ´Principles of Tibetan Art´.
Born in the north of India, where his parents established themselves as refugees during the 1960ies, Tharphen received both a combined Tibetan-Indian upbringing and a western education at an English Jesuit school. After graduating, age 18, he became a faithful student of his father´s with a strong wish to help preserve the sacred tradition of Karma Gardri Thangka Painting.



Gega Lama gave complete transmission to his son and for many years they worked side by side in their school and studio in Kathmandu. They taught aspiring students together, faithfully maintaining the traditional method of apprenticeship, and made numerous thangkas and frescoes.
By the time of his father´s unexpected passing in 1996, Tharphen himself had been a respected master in his art for a number of years, and Gega Lama had asked him to make the illustrations for his second book, for which the manuscript was nearly completed.
In 1999 Tharphen married his Dutch partner Lakshmi Fransen, also a qualified Thangka painter of the Karma Gardri school, who had been a student of his father´s since 1989. Since then he´s lived in The Netherlands with Lakshmi and their two sons and he´s taught Thangka painting courses in several Buddhist Centres across Europe. In between regular jobs and taking care of their family, both Tharphen and Lakshmi are dedicated to the work on Gega Lama´s books in the hope of further publishing and spreading the unique knowledge they contain. Next to preserving the traditional Karma Gardri school, Tharphen has also enjoyed creating a unique painting style of his own in which he blends traditional Tibetan thangkas with adornments in the European Art Nouveau style.

Contact

info@thangkakarmagardri.com