Traditional Tibetan Thankas

Bronwen and Frans StieneEnglish Leave a Comment

If you are interested in buying one of Pemba’s thankas you will find a choice of them at our website shop.


A detail from Pemba’s Thanka

When we lived in Darjeeling in 1998 we met some wonderful people. This was where we started teaching the system of Reiki and doing our best to help those around us with Reiki treatments.

We became good friends with one of the local families, who were Tibetans-in-exile. The mother, Tsering, had severe rheumatoid arthritis and we treated her twice a week. She improved greatly during that year.

The father, Pemba, was a thanka painter who sat in a tiny little room painting the most exquisite thankas for the local Tibetan community. He used natural paints crushed from rock with some of them having to be illegally smuggled out of Tibet (the Chinese tried to stop the export of these rocks in order to stop thankas being painted by Tibetans living outside Tibet). He would sit there on the floor creating such fine work while pressing shiny gold leaf into deity headdresses.

Each thanka was made to order and once it was finished he would take it to the local Tibetan silk seller and measure it up for a silk frame. The next step would be to bless the thanka and this is done by a Tibetan Lama (priest).

Over the last couple of years we have tried to help out Tsering and Pemba’s daughter, Tsering (junior), with her study ambitions. She is a really smart girl! So smart in fact she received a grant to study Literature in the USA and from there she has also received a grant to study at Oxford in the UK. WOW!!!


We have held a raffle as well as devoting money earned from an online course – The Three Diamonds to her.

There’s also a page about Tsering’s family and our Reiki experiences with them in Darjeeling.

About the Thankas


Pemba Painting

To make a long story short we have organised with Pemba to sell some of his beautiful thankas online. This will help support the family as well as Tsering. We hope you will help us with this great project!!!

An important point is that it also gives YOU a very unique opportunity.
It is not often that original thankas get seen online. Mostly the thankas that you see being sold online are made by children in thanka type factories in Kathmandu (in fact it is even hard to get original ones in Kathmandu itself). These kids do a sort of ‘painting by numbers’ and there is no spiritual understanding or skill behind them.

Pemba’s thankas on the other hand are all completely made by him. The stretching of the canvas, the drawing of the deities, the backgrounds, the whole she-bang, plus of course the actual painting with some of the paints ground by him from rock and the supervision of the thanka to its finished product as a silk framed, Lama blessed thanka.


BTW The thanka will only get blessed once Pemba knows who the buyer is. A thanka without an owner cannot be blessed! 

Have a look at this image. It is a thanka of Guru Pamasambhava. All the thankas will look like this when they are finished with the layers of silk, blue, yellow and red, and a yellow silk cloth as a cover.
As you might imagine it takes Pemba weeks to make these gorgeous thankas. The quality of his thankas is so high that he has had some of his thankas blessed by the Dalai Lama. Yours wont be I’m afraid – unless you can organise the audience! But a Darjeeling Tibetan Lama will bless it for you.

Pemba is making these thankas to order. So, if you order one you will need to wait a couple of weeks for it to be painted and then sent to you.

Your thanka will be sent to you by UPS – expertly packaged lovingly by Pemba himself.  

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