Thangkhas in Bhutan’s monasteries restored

Thangkha restoration by Bhutanese monks
Thangkha restoration by Bhutanese monks

Thangkhas and statues are important artifacts of any monastery around which many mysteries lie veiled. These artifacts can date back to centuries ago when myth and mysticism were common as any unwarranted stories today.

The origins of some of these artifacts were never discovered. They existed from time immemorial, while others were gifts from great lamas and mystics who presented them to the monastery as they lay on their death beds. Still some others were family heirlooms or discovered by tertons (treasure discoverers). Despite their origins these artefacts are considered priceless. Hence, of great importance to preserve them unfailingly.

Ephraim ‘Eddie’ Jose is an indispensable figure in Bhutan. He learned to restore the artifacts from the disciplinarian art restoration milieu of Japan. He has helped restore one hundred and fifty sacred scrolls and trained 11 monks for restoration. He has provided financial assistance for restoring and preserving projects.

Dirt, dust and insect and bird droppings get accumulated on the thangkas. Smoke from butter lamps and wooden fire causes abrasion of the thangka. It thus becomes important to bring these thangkas back to their former glory.

The restoration process is difficult. It is almost impossible to get the right mixture of paints used by the original painter. A small mistake by a novice can have a disastrous result.

Therefore, Eddie is trying to restore damaged art and also to convince Bhutan’s hundreds of monasteries and temples to store the artifacts in a safer environment for better protection and longevity.

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