art, carvings & prints





Our collection of art works focuses largely on the spiritual / religious
life of Asia and the impact this has on life and customs.

For paintings, we have chosen both original works of art as well as
prints, focusing on specific artists and styles which epitomise for us
the cultural spirit of the areas they represent.

Our collection of carvings and statues likewise have representational
value as well as artistic merit, being designed and carved by artists
and master craftsmen in Nepal, Thailand and Burma.

They represent symbols, deities and figures from the wealth of
religious thought of Tibet,Nepal, China, Thailand and Burma.

                        Below is information which expands on some of the background
                        and symbolism of a number of our products.

1. Tanka Paintings
A tanka (than-ka) is a portable religious painting found in a number of Himalayan countries, most notably in Tibet. The painting is traditionally set in cloth borders which are supplied with rods at the top and bottom so that the painting may be hung or rolled up for storage or transport.
Tibetan art of this type is based on the doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism, perhaps the most mystical form of Buddhism. A common tanka subject is the kala-chakra mandala, (the wheel of time or the wheel of life), which is used for teaching and meditational purposes. It forms a part of a system of teachings and practice conferred by the Buddha to his disciples. In the past the Kalachakra Initiation was a closely guarded secret and the viewing of the mandala formed the culmination of a twelve day initiation ritual for Buddhist practitioners. In recent times the Dalai Lama has removed the secrecy from the kala-chakra mandala teachings.

Practitioners use the Mandala to visualize in meditation the steps along the Path to Enlightenment.
In essence the kalachakra, along with its borders, encompasses the entire universe.

Other typical thanka paintings focus on a specific deity / enlightened one / guru and exhibit specific structures depending on the original geographic location of the style and the time period in which the original was conceived.

In the general distribution of figures within the thanka, the center is usually occupied by the main figure; the top portion by honored teachers and favorite deities of the main figure; and the bottom portion by protectors of the faith, most often in their wrathful or frightening shapes.
The founders of Tibetan Buddhist sects are often depicted in tankas. The three most commonly illustrated are Padmasambhava, the original founder of Tibetan Buddhism (and commonly still revered in Bhutan); Atisa, the founder of the Kadampa sect; and Tsongkapa, the founder of the Gelukpa or Yellow Hat sect.

2. Pancha (Dhyani) Buddhas
The five Dhyani Buddhas are seen as embodiments of the five cosmic elements- ether, water, earth, fire and air. The concept of this family of five Dhyani Buddhas from which deities emanate according to need, comes from the Vajrayana form of Buddhism common in Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan..

The Pancha Buddha’s are Vairochana, Akshobhya, Amitabha, Amoghsiddhi and Ratnasambhava. Every Buddha has his own particular posture, direction and insight. Their images can be seen in chaityas (roadside altars) and stupas of the Kathmandu Valley.

Vairochana (ether) represents the cosmic element of form and the primordial wisdom of the sphere of reality. He is often represented in the center of the mandala consisting of the five Transcendental Buddhas, and his rites pacify negative emotions. His two hands are held against the chest with his thumbs and forefingers touching. He radiates the light of Buddhahood.

Akshobya (water) is the second of the Transcendental Buddhas. He represents the primordial cosmic element of consciousness; immutable and imperturbable. He sits in the earth touching mudra with his left hand resting on his lap face up and his right hand resting on the right knee with the tip of the middle finger touching the earth with palm drawn inward as he faces the East.

(Tibetan: Gyalwa Rinjun)
Ratnasambhava (earth) is the third of the five Transcendental Buddhas. He is associated with the human realm on the wheel of life. He is known for his equanimity reminding us that all human beings are precious. He faces the south

(Tibetan: Opame) Buddha of Infinite Light.
Amitaba (fire) is the fourth and most ancient of the five Transcendental Buddhas that embody the five primordial wisdoms of meditation. He supports the gradual unfolding of one’s spiritual petals into enlightenment. Amitaba sits in the full-lotus posture with his two hands resting on his lap in the mudra of meditative equipoise. He is most often depicted in tankas flanked by two eminent bodhisattvas, Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of Power. Due to the power of the merit of Buddha Amitaba’s virtuous activities accumulated throughout his countless lives as a bodhisattva, meditation upon Amitaba is widespread and very popular.

(Tibetan: Donyo Drupa) Buddha of Unfailing Accomplishment
The Buddha Amogasiddhi (air) is the fifth of the Transcendental Buddhas that embody the five primordial wisdoms. His attributes are power and energy that is both subtle and often hidden. Amogasiddhi is the Supreme Siddhi—the magic power of enlightenment. In this way the inner and outer world, and the visible and invisible are united as the body becomes spirit and the spirit embodies. His left hand rests in his lap in the mudra of equipoise and his right hand is held at chest level facing outwards in the mudra of granting protection

3. The Eight Auspicious Symbols

Right-coiled White Conch
The white conch which coils to the right symbolises the deep, far-reaching and melodious sound of the Dharma teachings, which being appropriate to different natures, predispositions and aspirations of disciples, awakens them from the deep slumber of ignorance and urges them to accomplish their own and others' welfare.
Precious Umbrella
The precious umbrella symbolises the wholesome activity of preserving beings from illness, harmful forces, obstacles and so forth in this life, and all kinds of temporary and enduring sufferings of the three lower realms, and the realms of men and gods in future lives. It also represents the enjoyment of a feast of benefit under its cool shade.
Victory Banner
The victory banner symbolises the victory of the activities of one's own and others’ body, speech and mind over obstacles and negativitities. It also stands for the complete victory of the Buddhist Doctrine over all harmful and pernicious forces.
Golden Fish
The golden fish symbolises the auspiciousness of all living beings in a state of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of sufferings, and migrating from place to place freely and spontaneously, just as fish swim freely without fear through water.
Dharma Wheel
The golden wheel symbolises the auspiciousness of the turning of the precious wheel of Buddha's doctrine, both in its teachings and realizations, in all realms and at all times, enabling beings to experience the joy of wholesome deeds and liberation.
Auspicious Drawing
The auspicious drawing (sometimes called the Tibetan knot or never-ending knot) symbolises the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs. Similarly, it represents the union of wisdom and method, and at the time of enlightenment, the complete union of wisdom and great compassion.
Lotus Flower
The lotus flower symbolises the complete purification of the defilements of the body, speech and mind, and the full blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation.
Vase of Treasure
The treasure vase symbolises an endless rain of long life, wealth and prosperity and all the benefits of this world and liberation.