Painter blaz­ing trail for thangka

China Daily (USA) - - TIBET - By PALDEN NYIMA in Lhasa palden_ny­ima@chi­nadaily.com. cn

Al­though he al­ways wears a suit and tie, Dor­jee Don­drup has the dis­tinc­tive ap­pear­ance of a Ti­betan Khampa man.

Born to the well-known Nyan­shul fam­ily of the Ti­betan Kham ar­eas, Dor­jee Don­drup has ded­i­cated him­self to pro­mot­ing the thangka paint­ing in­dus­try in Tibet.

By es­tab­lish­ing a thangka academy in Sichuan prov­ince and a thangka paint­ing cen­ter in Lhasa, cap­i­tal of the Tibet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, he has be­come a prom­i­nent fig­ure in the in­dus­try.

Ac­cord­ing to Nyan­shul Ge­neal­ogy and Dege Chief­tain Bi­og­ra­phy, the Nyan­shul fam­ily has a long his­tory, and is si­t­u­ated mainly in the Minyak ar­eas be­tween Dartsedo city and Ta’u county of Sichuan’s Garze Ti­betan au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture. The fam­ily has a rich cul­tural back­ground, nur­tur­ing more than 50 Bud­dhist masters, schol­ars and high-rank­ing monks.

As a child, Dor­jee Don­drup learned about Ti­betan cal­lig­ra­phy, thangka art, but­ter sculp­tures, re­li­gious mu­sic, Bud­dhist rit­u­als, scrip­ture chant­ing and astrol­ogy.

Later, he was en­rolled at the Sichuan Ti­betan Col­lege, where he stud­ied Ti­betan gram­mar, po­etry, logic and Ti­betan medicine. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, he was in­vited to take part in emen­da­tion work on the wood blocks of the Kagyur and Tengyur scrip­tures at the Dege Scrip­ture Print­ing House, a cen­tury-old cul­tural in­sti­tute in Dege county, Sichuan prov­ince.

In 1995, he was in­vited by the China Ti­betol­ogy Re­search Cen­ter to paint il­lus­tra­tion thangkas for the Kagyur and Tengyur su­tras.

In the late 1990s, he co-es­tab­lished a thangka art academy in Chengdu, pro­vid­ing a stage for ex­changes and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, help­ing him to learn the paint­ing style of Karma Gardre.

In 1998, to­gether with eight other thangka artists, he moved his academy to Lhasa, bring­ing to­gether artists from dif­fer­ent schools.

He said that renowned Bud­dhism scholar Atisha was re­spon­si­ble for the un­prece­dented de­vel­op­ment of Ti­betan Bud­dhism, adding that the Ti­betan thangka paint­ing style af­ter the 10th cen­tury was strongly in­flu­enced by neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and re­gions, such as In­dia, Pak­istan, Nepal and other coun­tries in the Mid­dle East.

By con­verg­ing dif­fer­ent thangka paint­ing styles, Dor­jee Don­drup cre­ated his own paint­ing style, called Dor­luk, and built up his own team in 2006.

“Our style mar­ries el­e­ments of Karma Gardre in its choice of col­ors, the Mansar style in the ap­pear­ance of fig­ures and dresses, the lo­tus-paint­ing style of the Han cul­ture, and el­e­ments of West­ern oil paint­ing,” Dor­jee Don­drup said.

In 2014, he ex­hib­ited his works in the Na­tional Mu­seum of China.

Now, his com­pany has more than 130 painters and staff, and he has trained more than 300 stu­dents in the past 10 years, mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­mo­tion of the thangka in­dus­try.

PALDEN NYIMA / CHINA DAILY

Dor­jee Don­drup works on a thangka paint­ing in his gallery in Lhasa, the Tibet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

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