Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

Restauration / Conservation of Thangkas

Vajrakila Thangka

Full View Detail 1 Detail 2 Detail 3 Detail 4 Detail 5 Detail 6 Detail 7 Before & After

This winged Heruka archetype deity with three faces and six arms is Vajrakumara [Tib. Dorje Shönnu] also known as Vajrakila. He is the deity of the magic phurba dagger, a symbol of the sharp point of wisdom fixed immobile on goodness by the power of one- pointed concentration. It is used to pin down demonic influences in the process of taming them and teaching to reform their ways.

The whole Thangka is warped and distorted, especially the upper part of the object is very much destroyed: The brown-golden front fabric is totally gone and in the lining there are a lot of holes and tears. The wooden poles are still in good order, but the holding straps are partly torn and provisionally knotted.

In the so-called rainbow, the two ribbons surrounding the picture, small gilded paperstripes were woven in. The fixing warp is already very brittle, so that the paper gold lies orderless and partly without weave.

The provisionally knots in the straps were untied and all fabrics were dry-cleaned and planed. The backside of the painting was doubled and backed with an acrylic resin-covered silken crepeline [see Detail 3].

A brown woolen fabric was dyed and inserted from the front side to back up the lining. The lining was sewed to the supporting fabric through span stiches by hand.

After that a matching dyed silk was inserted to support the front fabric and the precious original was sewed to it again by hand with span stiches. The silk now covers the brown woolen backing of the lining.

A new cord was tied to the old mounts. No more elements were added, so to not alter the original further, because the aim of this conservation should be the preservation in the first place.