Visual Philosophy

Liberation on Seeing Tsakli images can convey their meanings directly without the absolute necessity for words. However, similarly to the Western ‘emblematic’ tradition, certain mantras, instructions or names recorded on the reverse of tsakli cards can help to clarify and provide extra insights. Over the years I have been compiling many examples of mystical visual art designed to “liberate on seeing” by using various means to by-pass the everyday mind and make us think about reality in another way. In the Occident this mostly covers to the visual tradition of the Italian Renaissance. These Emblemata are themselves often direct copies of earlier Ptolemaic art from circa 1 to 100 BCE, which in turn hark back to even more distant Dynastic Egyptian periods.  The ‘pagan’ or Classical Renaissance gave rise to the Tarot (Tarrochini cards) with which we are all now familiar. My research is detailed in Tarot of the Four Worlds book, Minor Arcanaii of the Four Winds book and elsewhere. Ithell Colquhoun used C20th Freudian and Surrealist techniques in her art, combined with Eastern and Western occult theory.


Victory of the Dharma banner  Badly worn C19th tsakli (Tibet) Before digital restoration


Future Buddhas

AFTERBEFOREEarly Ming dynasty tsakli shown  before and after digital restoration

“If even he, whose sight is far from pure, The image of Sugata on the wall will see, Some later day millions of Tathāgatas will he meet!”

(Lotus Sutra)

This article about preserving thangkas also largely applies to cloth tsaklis: One of the defining technical characteristics of a thangka, its most distinctive feature, is that it is painted on both sides. Thangkas are painted on a canvas support prepared and coated on both sides. Thangkas are rolled, as Chinese and Japanese works often are. The back of a thangka is as carefully prepared as the front, so that consecrated formulas, mantras, and other religious or historical writings can be inscribed on it. Before the 15th century, a pair of presentation frame textiles in cotton or silk was added by a single seam on its upper and its lower borders only, with the sides left unframed. Later thangka mounting included textiles on all four sides of the painting, usually in silk brocade.

All these particularities make restoration and conservation of thangkas a very specific job. Their conception, the place where they were kept and the way they were handled have also to be taken into consideration. Thangkas are exclusively religious works of art, honored in monasteries or private shrines, incessantly rolled and unrolled by the light of the butter lamps - this latter a cause of dirtiness we do not find in the painting of western countries. Many thangkas have been vandalized during the last 50 years as a result of the terrible cultural upheavals in Tibet during the period of the Cultural Revolution. This set of conditions causes specific mechanical wear, and alterations, which will be briefly described in this paper. Link …..

The Holy Tantra  Has  Very Great Power
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