Known in Tibetan as göchen thangka (precious-cloth scroll images) or göku (cloth images), the art of appliqué first began among the Huns of Central Asia to embroider saddle blankets. Gradually, it spread east across the Silk Road, and was adopted by Tibetans as a religious art form.
During the 15th century fabric thangka using indigenous appliqué technique materialised. These richly embroidered and appliquéd thangkas quickly gained popularity in Tibet.
Appliquéd thangkas are often thought of as superior to painted thangkas due to their high quality materials, durability, suppleness and their ability to last many generations. All pieces are masterfully hand stitched using special embroidery techniques.
In Tibet, the highly regarded skill of thangka making has traditionally been passed on from senior monks to the younger generation. Unfortunately, this tradition has largely been lost in Tibet. Though it has resurfaced with the exiled Tibetans in India. It is of historic importance to preserve this sacred art form, as it holds great cultural and religious significance to Tibetans and Buddhists worldwide.
Different kinds of Thangkas:
1. Painted thangka
2. Appliqué thangka
3. Embroidered thangka
4. Glued appliqué thangka.
5. Woven thangka
6. Block or Screen Printed on cloth thangka.