Sikkim showcases rare ethnic Buddhist paintings

ANI, Jan 23, 2005

Gangtok, Sikkim (India) -- Sikkim's Directorate of Handicraft and Handloom Industry is these days taking the lead in showcasing rich ethnic Buddhist paintings with the aim of keeping alive traditional arts and crafts.

The Gangtok-based establishment is actively promoting the art of "Thanka" among young students. These "Thankas" or Buddhist paintings are found all over the state and in most monastries. The "Thankas" depict the life of Lord Buddha, the Goddess Drolma, besides the Wheel of Life.

The training imparted to the students at the Directorate not only aims at popularizing the art, but it also increases the prospect of employment for these students as most of them are school droupouts. The stipend received by each student undergoing training attracts a number of young men from all over the state.

"I have come from a village. Here I have learned painting. Government has helped a lot. Here we also receive a stipend. It's very good over here," says Phurba Bhutia, a student.

"We make the paintings of Sikkim's diety Budhha. These paintings are taken to the monastries. We use natural colour," he adds.

Bhutia gets additional money whenever his paintings are taken by a monastry. According to an instructor at the Directorate, a number of students come to learn painting and the stipend paid to them plays a vital role in their lives. Once they are through with their training, they can either work for the Directorate or can take up independent contracts.

"A number of locals come to this place. They learn painting . They can also work here. All the students get stipend which makes their life easy," said Tillu Tamang, the instructor.

The central figure in the Thanka is always a Budha. Other figures depicted around the main deity have their mystical significance too.