Paubha (Thangka) Painting Course for Osel Ling Monks in Swayambhu, Kathmandu

Name of Project: Paubha (Thangka) painting course 

Project Period: 2019 to 2021

Location: Osel Ling Monastery - Swayambhu, Kathmandu/Nepal

As 2021 is coming to a close we take a look back at projects we completed this year and successfully handed over to the partner organisation. Abiding Heart Education set up for Osel Ling Monastery, in Swayambhu/Kathmandu, a Paubha painting course for their monks, a project which we established in 2019. The project was handed over to the monastery to continue to run in early 2021 and it continues to thrive. 

Paubha is a Newari Buddhist style of Thangka painting originated in India as early as the 12th century. Such a style of painting can be seen in monasteries in Upper Mustang, Nepal, Ladakh, India, and variations of such styles in Tibet before the 16th Century. 

Abiding Heart’s dedicated Thangka teacher, Sudarshan Suwal, has been teaching thangka painting since the beginning and developed a close relationship with his monk students. With Sudharshan’s close guidance, the monks have built skills such as sketching and drawing, crushing semi-precious stones into pigments, making canvas and other skills of this beautiful Buddhist art. 

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Sudarshan demonstrating: how to make the canvas for the Paubha painting (photo 1) and how to sketch the main deity (photo 2)

Paubha pigments are natural. Sudarshan teaches the students how to crush and make pigments from Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, seashells, etc, as you can see in the second photo above.

Sudharshan is a dedicated teacher who loves and cares very much for this group.  Besides the painting classes, he takes time to organise excursions for the monks to Newari Buddhist sites of his community in the old city Patan.

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The monks visiting Sudharshan’s studio in Patan (Photo 1) and Newari Buddhist sites of his community in this ancient city (Photos 2 and 3)

By the time Abiding Heart handed over the project to the monastery, the monks had learned to paint Shakyamuni, Green Tara, White Tara, Vajrasattva, Manjushri, Five Buddhas and started a complex painting project depicting the life of Gautama Buddha. 

Having a Newari Buddhist style painting course in a Tibetan monastic environment is another wonderful way to continue to build bridges between these two special Buddhist communities and their ancient traditions. 

A big thank you to Dr Robert Roeser, Marianna Bauko and Dr Susan Davidson for their generous donations that paid the thangkha teacher’s salary for the duration of the project, and for Mingyur Rinpoche’s contribution for managing the transition at the end of the project period of equipment and natural pigments.

By now, Karma, Sudharshan’s first student, is sketching and painting complex and big projects

Sudharshan and some of his monks students with a painting of the Five Buddha they worked on

As we conclude this successful project we make aspirations that this project continues to flourish for many years to come! 

New courses starting in February 2022

A stand-alone thangka painting course

Abiding Heart Education will offer a new Thangka painting course on 18 February 2022 with full scholarship for monks and nuns from the Himalayan region.

We are accepting lay and monastic students who wish to study Paubha as part of personal and professional development. Classes will be offered in our centre in Boudha. There is also the option to join this class online (live streaming). Classes will be held once a week for three hours during semester time. For more information, please check at https://www.abidingheart.education/thangka-painting or contact us at admissions@abidingheart.education or by WhatsApp at (+977) 9746235508.

Thangka Painting in Abiding Heart’s Kindergarten and Primary Teacher Training

Thangkha painting is an integral part of our kindergarten and primary full-time teacher training courses (Diploma or Certificate). On these courses, our teacher trainees engage in Thangka painting during the first year of training.   

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2020 Abiding Heart’s students painting Shakyamuni Buddha, as part of the Buddhist Foundation Studies semester

In addition, in our primary curriculum for class 6-8 we also integrated teaching the children simple Thangkas and linking the Newari Thangka style with mineralogy, geology, and chemistry as the students learn how to make pigments using semi-precious stones, such as turquoise and lapis lazuli and other minerals.

For more information about our teacher training courses and our Experiential Buddhist Foundation Studies, please visit our courses page or contact us at admissions@abidingheart.education.