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Home  → About us  → News  → Askat and Kareliya retreat centres hosted thangka painting courses with Nepalese artist Dawa Lhadipa

Askat and Kareliya retreat centres hosted thangka painting courses with Nepalese artist Dawa Lhadipa


In summer of 2013, two Buddhist retreat centers, one in Karelia and one in the Altai Mountains (Askat village), hosted courses on painting thangkas (traditional Buddhist paintings) in the Karma Gadri style under the guidance of the famous Nepalese artist Dawa Lhadipa. Dawa started painting at an early age and met his first thangka art teacher when he was only 13 years old. Afterwards, he studied under various masters of the Karma Gadri style that is typical for the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Since 2000s Dawa Lhadipa has been visiting Karma Guen Buddhist Centre in Spain on a regular basis, doing paintings inside the centre’s gompa (a meditation hall). Currently the artist is painting the room of Mahakala, an enlightened protector of all Buddhist teachings.

Since the first course of that kind, which was held in Karelia in 2010, students have shown improvements with each year. During the course held in 2012 they fully finished one thangka; and this time young painters completed two thangkas and even bordered one of them with silk tissue following the traditional canons.

The Karelia course participants were lucky to enjoy good weather throughout their studies, despite the well-known severity of Karelian nature. There’s a small miracle here  – it was cold when the course started, and one of the students asked the master to make a picture of the sun on canvas, hoping for a magic effect of the Buddhist art. Dawa Lhadipa satisfied her request, and by the next day the weather set warm. 

Askat has hosted such a course for the second time now. The previous event, held in autumn last year, gathered around 30 people. For almost all of them it was their first attempt at painting thangkas. Half the attendants had never taken drawing classes before. However, everybody managed to make an image of the Buddha under skillful guidance of master Dawa.

The course held in summer of 2013 was attended by 17 people, both newcomers and sophomores. While some students copied canonical wind and fire patterns, others primed canvases, learned how to blend paints and transferred pencil drawings onto canvas. As recommended by Dawa, one of the retreat days is usually a day-off, and all participants go out to get to know the surroundings better. In autumn of 2012 the students, together with the master, enjoyed marvelous Kurayskaya Step and North-Chuyskiy Ridge, and in June of 2013 they studied petroglyphs in the Tchemal Region and took delight in the views of the full-flowing KatunRiver and the Kuyusinskiy waterfall.

Dawa Lhadipa’s plans are to continue visiting Russia regularly to teach Buddhist art and preserve the Tibetan cultural heritage by sharing ancient knowledge with the next generations. Stay tuned and learn about the upcoming courses.


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