Painted Images of Enlightenment

Early Tibetan Thankas, 1050-1450
By: Steven Kossak
Binding: Hardcover
Specifications: 220 pages, 140 illustrations
ISBN: 978-81-85026-95-4
Dimensions: 305 x 241 mm

Ever since the publication of Giuseppe Tucci’s monumental book on thankas in 1949, early Tibetan thankas have fascinated scholars. In 1984, when Pratapaditya Pal wrote his ground breaking book Tibetan Painting, probably fewer than 50 of these 11th–14th century Tibetan paintings on cloth were known. Since then, over 300 early thankas have appeared. These works provide a plethora of new data for the art historian, and their study has transformed our understanding of their iconography and chronology. They have also transformed our knowledge of early Tibetan history and monasticism. However, there has as yet been no book exclusively devoted to the subject. The volume aspires to be useful to experts in Tibetan art, to art historians wishing to integrate Tibetan subjects into their teaching, and to the growing body of amateur admirers of Tibetan thankas.

Steven Kossak is well known to scholars interested in the arts of India and the Himalayas. He had a distinguished career as Curator of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He has written articles on early Tibetan painting defining the stylistic parameters, dating and provenance of these rare works.

Foreword by Pratapaditya Pal

Preface and Acknowledgements


Chapter 1
Pala Painting Style and Its Tibetan Variant

Chapter 2
Lineage Painting and Portraiture in Tibet

Chapter 3
Sakya Patrons and Newari Artists in the 13th–15th Centuries

Chapter 4
Textile Patterns in 11th‐14th‐Century Portrait Thankas

Chapter 5
Sartorial and Pictorial Styles in 14th‐15th‐Century Central Tibetan Painting

Chapter 6
Changing Styles of Tantric Jewellery in Tibetan Painting

Chapter 7
The “Taklung” Thankas: Their History and Provenance Reconsidered

Chapter 8
Tibetan‐Style Paintings from Khara Khoto: A New Perspective on Dating and Style