Home Culture World’s largest thanka coming to Nepal

World’s largest thanka coming to Nepal

In Picture: A file photo shows the thanka that was up on display at Dashrath Rangashala on October, 2012.

Kathmandu, June 17, 2016: The world’s largest thangka painting-measuring a whooping 70 m by 50 m-is set to go on a three-city tour in November. The thangka, currently housed in Japan, will be up for display at the Dashrath Rangasala Stadium in the Capital, at the Lumbini Garden in Lumbini and at the Basundhara Park in Pokhara. This will be the second time that the thangka has been put on display in Nepal. It had previously been on display at the rangashala in  October 2012. The exhibit has been organised by the Nepal Council for Preservation of Buddhist Religion in association with the Japan-based (NPO) M21 Network and Nepal Tourism Board.

The announcement of the forthcoming exhibit was made during a press meet organised at Nepal Tourism Board, in the Capital, on Thursday. The event saw the presence of Surya Bahadur Thakali, chairperson of the Nepal Council for Preservation of Buddhist Religion, Yasutada Katagiri, chairperson of (NPO) M21 Newtwork, and event co-ordinator Prabhat Rimal, along with journalists and thangka enthusiasts.

The thangka depicts the life story of Gautam Buddha—from his birth to Mahaparinirvana by summarising the life cycle of the Buddha in twelve deeds as is noted in historical texts.

Itself a magnificent piece of art of great historic significance, organisers hope that the thangka will play a catalyst in promoting Nepal as a tourism destination around the world. The thanka exhibit will also mark the celebration of 60 years of diplomatic relationship between Nepal and Japan. Speaking during the meet, Mr Thakali elaborated on how the exhibit could play a role in Nepal’s tourism development. “There has been a particular prejudice, among the travellers around the world, regarding safety during their travels to Nepal. To extend the message that Nepal is still a great travel destination, and safe, we hope that the thangka will be a veritable medium.”

Mr Sunil Sharma, executive director of Nepal Tourism Board, echoed Thakali’s sentiment: “The thangka is a pride of our nation. And it is obvious that if we can promote it around the world it can boost the tourism sector; also the exhibit will help to promote Nepal as a safe tourism hub.”

The idea of creating the largest thangka ever was first conceived back in 1994; involving effort by more than a 10,000 volunteers from over 16 countries, the thangka was finally completed in 2002. The colossal piece—weighing a whopping 1900 kilograms—was created by stitching 81 different pieces of fabric (each 7.7m long and 5.5m broad) together.

The artwork has so far been exhibited in several cities around the globe—including Yokohama, Hiroshima, New Delhi, and Honolulu, among others.

Thangkas explore traditional notions of Buddhism and is an art form that is believed to have in Tibet and before spreading to Nepal, China, and Japan, and beyond.

By Timothy Aryal