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Manufacturing crafts of Tibetan mineral and plant-based pigments

Publish Time: 2016-11-23 Author: From: Kangba TV

Category: Traditional crafts     No.: VIII-199

Approved on: May 23, 2011    Level: State-level

Applicant: Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region

Mineral pigments are the most basic ingredient of Thangka for their fadeless colors.

Pigment minerals are colorful and clean with colors which can last for thousands of years. As geological products, pigment minerals are of stable physical and chemical properties. Therefore, paintings painted with those pigment minerals can maintain their colors for a long time.

On May 23, 2011, the manufacturing craft of Tibetan mineral and plant-based pigments was included in the 3rd batch of national intangible heritages by the State Council of China.

Pigments of traditional Tibetan paintings are made from natural minerals and plants. The extracts of those natural minerals and plants can also be used as “Tibetan medicine.” Mineral pigments, extracts of natural crystals, can highlight paintings with color gloss. Plant-based pigments are extracts of the leaves and barks of rare trees, as well as flowers and grasses; light- and heat-resistant, those pigments are excellent in terms of color duration.

Azurites and malachites are raw materials of blue and green pigments. Red, yellow and orange minerals can be found at places like Chamdo.

There are increasing needs for raw materials for traditional artworks such as thangkas, sand mandalas, murals, wood carvings and furniture decorations. For these arts, the most indispensable ingredient is natural mineral- and plant-based pigments. The colors of thangkas painted with natural pigments tend to be fadeless.

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