Tashi Gurung:

The Last Kingdom


April 1 - May 29, 2022


Mustang Kingdom

PBS Documentary about Mustang

The Journey

In October 2018, I traveled to Mustang along with two friends. It took me about eight days to get there.

I first flew from San Francisco to Guangzhou, then from Guangzhou to Kathmandu. I met my friends in Kathmandu, and we first flew to Pokhara on a small airplane, and then on an even smaller "bush plane" from Pokhara to Jomsom.

In Jomson, we were joined by our guide, Tashi, with his assistant, Bishan, and 5 horses. Kali, a local mountain horse, chose me and we set off on a journey following the deep Kali Gandaki river canyon. Four days later, our caravan reached Lo Manthang, the capital of the remote Mustang.

Tashi at work

Tashi and his Art

Tashi has a small art gallery in his hometown of Lo Manthang.

Lo Manthang is only open to tourists two-three months per year due to the cold Tibetan winters and the long monsoon seasons. Tashi paints Thangkas in other months and sometimes travels to the warmer Kathmandu.

All thangkas are hand-painted on local cotton canvas. For traditional Mustang Thangkas, Tashi uses local mineral pigments sourced from semiprecious stones such as vermillion or orpiment. These are ground to powder for three months, and then mixed with Yak-skin glue and water. 24-carat gold is used in some Thangkas as well.

In his own words:

Tashi, why did you decide to pursue Thangka Art?

Thangka Art

Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton, silk appliqué, or rice paper usually depict a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. The thangka form developed alongside the tradition of Tibetan Buddhist wall paintings, which are or were mostly in monasteries in the Himalayas.

A mandala is a geometric configuration of symbols. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing the mind and attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. A mandala generally represents the spiritual journey through several layers, starting from the outside to the inner core.

Wheel of Life (Bhavacakra)

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Mantra Mandala

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Double Vajra Mantra Mandala

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Mantra Mandala Om with Eight Auspicious Symbols

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Kalachakra Mandala

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The Path to Nirvana

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