What Tattoo Artists say about Tibetan Thangka Art?
The art of Thangka painting and the tattoo seems to be parallel. As a thangka painting tells a thousand-year-old story, so does the tattoo. Both have pretty artistic expression. These days most of the tattoo artists have been referring Thangka paintings to make tattoos so that they might give some life lessons to the viewers.
The parallelism between them exists in the sense that thangka students before jumping to drawing and painting the Thangka should learn the grids and proportional measurements for the three body types: male Buddhas, female Buddhas, and wrathful deities. They are not really allowed to paint at first. Like they are taught to draw perfectly for a couple of years and then finally allowed to touch the paints. In the similar fashion, Tattoo artists are also first taught to clean the shop stations, drawing on paper before doing on the body, learning to make needles by hand.
He has been attracted to Thangka paintings for a long time. While his travel to Nepal, Northern India and Tibet, he got to know more about the thangkas and the art of making them. They are really majestic and tells the mystical life story. Anyone can feel in deep connection gazing at them. Each and every detail, and images of deities used in them make them perfect. These thangka painting would look even more perfect when transposed on the skin.
The general people might not know how skilled a painter should be to create symmetrical patterns like these. Eddy has been involved in tattoo profession for more than four decades and owns a private studio in Los Angeles and travels around the world working at well-known shops as a guest artist.
Thangka tattoo painting by Eddy Deutsche
The New York-based tattoo artist Troy Denning says:
“Thangka represents a dynamic life/death struggle by combining deities and different symbols together. I have always been fascinated with these form of arts. When I was young, I always gazed strangely at these paintings and the texts used in them, multicoloured geometric designs, natural creatures always fascinated me. This is the most admired thing about East. It’s an art that incorporates all the elements of art.”
The process of Thangka painting and tattoo seems similar. Like Tattoos, Thangkas paintings are also passed on to the student from the master. Studying of both of them is intense. Like in thangka painting a minimum of five years of training is required. You must draw perfectly first, for 3 years, before you ever touch paint. Your lines must be delicate.
The learning tattooist learns to make needles, mix colour, cut stencils and draw. The traditional tattoo learner must learn to pay close attention to detail and do what his teacher asks him to do. Both seem really similar.