Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

Three Generations of Thangka Painters

Karsang Lama

Karsang Lama, the top thangka painter in Kathmandu, a national treasure in Nepal, a world renowned artist of traditional thangkas. His illustrious career has brought him to exhibit paintings in museums, culture centres and art galleries as well as in the universities around the world. His thangkas has been displayed in the monasteries throughout Asia and has trained many of the top artists who are working today and who have already established their own thangka companies.

Karsang LamaHe was born in the small village named Rhisankhu, Sinhudpalchok, Nepal in 1962 , April 15, the northern part of Nepal, 70 km to Tibet border [China]. His forefather was a holly monk [prestigious monk] migrated from Tibet; the Northern part of China helped to create the first monastery Choifel Kundeling Gumpa in Rishankhu and started teaching Buddhism. He established a foundation where the trends of Buddhism philosophy and paintings were taught in Rhisankhu. This method has been successively implemented by his grandfather Late Lama Pema Gyalpo Tamang [Chakradhoj Lama], his father Late Norbu Lama and was also influenced by his Uncle [Mother's brother, Kusum Lama and grandfather Sangee Dorje Lama] from Vhetpu which is 30 km to the Tibetan border, north of Nepal. He stayed there for couple of years as a child and learned about the lamaisticthangka paintings and teachings about Buddhism in Urgen Choiling Gumpa, Monastery.

He is the third generation artist from his family lineage. He learned to paint from the age of 5 and completed his thangka painting education, when he was 15 years old. At the age of 22, he opened his own studio Dharmapala center under the rule and regulation of the HMG Nepal in 1982 A.D. The centre was culturally and spiritually patron by his Late [Nyigma-pa] lama Pema Gyalpo Tamang [1902-99] grandfather. Late Lama Pemagyalpo Tamang was the guardian and inspiration of this Thangka painting institution. Pema Gyalpo Tamang himself was a householder tantric Buddhist priest with his dynamic knowledge of artistic skill and talents.

He introduced the first fair labor practices for thangka artists. He reduced the working hours from 16 hours to 8 hours, paid fair wages, and established an active education program. His labor practices soon became standard and his painting school and studio remain the home of the best traditional artists. He has helped to establish three orphanages [underprivileged] children in the Kathmandu Valley, housing and educating more than 100 orphans at a time. Ten % of the sale of each painting through internet in Europe goes directly to the orphanages.

His paintings are being cherished throughout the world. He has painted commissions for religious leaders, political leaders, monasteries, and museums. His works have been shown in the museums of Asia, Europe, Australia, and the USA. He has numerous experiences and achievements in the fields of traditional art promotion, exhibition, and demonstrations in home and abroad.

ESC Nepal Article: 'The Thangka Guru'