Since the formative period in its civilization Tibet has remained a fertile ground for the cultivation of many arts and crafts. Fine workmanship was the goal, and quite often it was the result. The artisans and their beautiful craftsmanship were held in high regard as in the centers of religious culture, the monasteries. There the various arts reached their highest expression in the service of Buddhism.

Hand made brushes

Among all these arts and crafts paintings occupied a very special position. It was a highly developed and important means of religious expression. Paintings were a medium through which the highest ideals of Buddhism were evoked and brought alive. A sacred painting was for the Tibetan a "physical support" - in other words an embodiment - of enlightenment.


The main reasons are
(1) sickness or troubles,
(2) death in the family,
(3) the need for an image in connection with a particular religious practice,
(4) used to bolster the visualizations generated during meditation and
(5) believed to earn merit (bsod nams).

Many paintings were thus inspired by the universal human desire to avoid suffering, to gain happiness and longevity, and to ensure a happy state of existence following death.