Journal of Esoteric Buddhism
Online ISSN : 1884-345X
Print ISSN : 0286-9837
ISSN-L : 0286-9837
Paubha or Thanka?
Buddhist Paintings sponsored by the Newars in Tibet
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2008 Volume 2008 Issue 221 Pages L5-L30,126


After the publication of my paper “Tibetan Buddhist Paintings bearing Newari Inscriptions” (The Mikkyo Bunka, vol. 213, 2004; the English summary: The Kathmandu Valley as a Water Pot: Abstracts of research papers on Newar Buddhism in Nepal, 2007,, I wondered if these paintings should be classified as thankas (Tibetan Buddhist paintings) or paubhas (Newar Buddhist paintings). I present more examples in this paper and decipher the inscriptions, but my doubts have not been dissolved.
Working in Tibet, Newar merchants and artisans copied or sponsored the copying of many Newar Buddhist manuscripts in Lhasa, Shigatse, Kuti, and Kirong. In parallel with this religious activity they executed or sponsored the execution of these paintings in Tibet. For example, a tharika titled “Green Tara surrounded by twenty-seven deities” completed in Lhasa in 1862 was then introduced to Taisho University, Tokyo, by EKAI Kawaguchi. Kalidasa, one of the Newar donors of this painting, took part in the copying of a Buddhist manuscript, Visvantara rajakumaraya bakham (A Newari version of Visvantara-rajakumaravadana), seven years after in Shigatse. A Newar Buddhist manuscript, Karanda-vyuha in The British Library was copied in 1805 in Shigatse in the Newar atelier named Luptim. The manuscript has many colored illustrations in it. These are also good examples of the Buddhist paintings executed in Tibet for Newar patrons.
I conjecture that these paintings were executed mostly by Newar artisans working in Tibet mainly for Tibetan patrons and sometimes working for Newar patrons, but possibly in some cases the Newar patrons ordered these paintings from Tibetan painters who were on close terms with them in their everyday life.

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