September 4, 2009 3:05:32 am
Kishore Thukral has been on a unique mission for the past decade. The 48-year-old trekker,researcher,photographer and writer,has visited remote parts of Spiti hunting for ancient thangkas (Tibetan religious paintings generally made on fabrics like silk). He has searched through old chokhangs (small family-held temples) with the mission to digitally reproduce thangkas on canvas. The chokhangs in the far-flung villages are unknown to the tour operator and inaccessible to the outsider,but the rare thangkas hanging in them are breathtakingly beautiful and seen by none but the locals, says Thukral,for whom the first challenge lay in reaching these and looking through the cracks,the mould and the soot these have gathered from butter lamps over hundreds of years.
But for Thukral and his partner Sunil Nandrajog,it was important to give back to the community as well. We approached the chokhangs with the proposal that we would digitally reproduce their thangkas in different sizes on canvas to give them the archival look,stitch them in the traditional fashion with contemporary fabric,and then sell them. A major part of the earnings go back to the chokhangs to help them maintain and restore the originals, says Nandrajog. Thukral has founded the Dhangkar Initiative,a project that links conservation of the ancient Dhangkar Monastery with a livelihood generation programme for the local community. In July this year,the Dalai Lama visited the Dhangkar Monastery and endorsed the project.
The enterprise,called Tusita Divine Art,has organised an exhibition of the reproduced thangkas at The Attic in Connaught Place and Thukral hopes that there will be takers for the restoration project that he first conceptualised in 2005 and has been pursuing ever since. The thangkas come in six different sizes and each is accompanied by a booklet,which can be hung next to it. The booklet contains painstakingly researched interpretation as well as explanation of iconographies and other elements, says Thukral. The range starts at Rs 2,950 and goes up to Rs 55,000.
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