Green Tara Thangka


Title: Green Tara Thangka
Format: 30 cm L x 40 cm H
Material: Natural pigment on handmade cotton canvas
Year: 1997
Location: Cáceres – Spain

The Legend says that when Avalokiteshvara, ¨the great compassionate ¨ looked upon Earth he wept as he saw all the suffering and out of his tears emerged the White Tara representing longevity and the Green Tara representing compassion in action.


The Green Tara was my first thangka painting which I started after completing two years of practise. I then worked continuously on painting for a period of five months. The Tara and Toharana (The animals, lotus and decorations which surrounding the Tara) were copied from the 11th century  Green Tara at Cleveland Museum. The cave, lake and trees were inspired from other paintings of approximately the same period.

Work started by making the cotton canvas which becomes fine and flexible from rubbing over and over again with an agate stone. Next the crushing of the pigments. These re made from various semi precious stones. For instance malachite for the body and azurite for the blue cave surrounding Tara. Gold, which is polished is used for the jewellery.  First a rough outline is painted with ink. The canvas is then painted  layer upon layer and finally the shading is added. The body, is completed using semi-transparent pigment which we call the “juice” of pigment.

Buddhist iconography painted on canvas can be rolled and so becomes highly transportable. These paintings are instruments in the teachings of Buddhism. For many thousands of years such paintings were made with natural pigments and animal glue. These are the techniques taught to me by Roshan Sakya, the renowned Newar thangka painter living in Kathmandu, Nepal. These images are full of symbolism; for instance the positioning  of the figures reveal different meanings. The Green Tara is not sitting in a full lotus but in the position known as Lalita Sana which symbolises The Green Tara´s compassion going into action. There are many different attributes pertaining  to flowers and animals. The blue flowers represent purity. The Muckers, (the pink trumpet animals) are composed of five different animals thereby taking on the qualities of each of them.

I give special thanks to my teacher Roshan Sakya and to Elisabeth and Chino Roncoroni for their unfailing guidance and support.

The Green Tara thangka is at present in the temple building of Lalita, Acebo, Sierra de Gata in Spain.