Nepalese Thangka

Nepalese Thangka

Thangka, 20th century
Unknown maker, Nepal
Cotton with pigment, mounted on silk and cotton, 24 × 18 1/2 × 3 in. (61 × 47 × 7.6 cm)
Conserved, 2021
Collection of Ann Shaftel

Dense with iconography, thangka paintings are displayed in Buddhist temples to guide worship. Devotees traditionally burn butter lamps during prayer, generating soot that can penetrate the paintings and render them darkened or fragile over time. Fragile, soot- darkened thangkas are often replaced with new ones that feature similar iconography. Nonetheless, they remain precious and venerated, and are safely stored, displayed in private rooms for individual use, or installed as sacred items at the center of a stupa.

This thangka comes from the personal collection of Ann Shaftel, a conservator and practicing Buddhist, who began working in Buddhist monasteries in 1970. She uses this thangka as a teaching tool in preservation sessions with monks and nuns who care for these sacred items in their religious contexts. Shaftel’s work is part of a broader shift toward a hybridized future of conservation practice that begins with the communities to whom these items belong.

Thangka, 20th century

Click thumbnail images to view slideshow

  • Sew Her Name Dress, 2020–21
  • Angyaaq Model, 2021
  • Shaman’s Coat, ca. 19th century
  • Thangka, 20th century
  • Aguahoja II Studies, 2019
  • Sword, late 19th century
Go to Top