Kathmandu is no doubt is a highly commercialized shopping city. Upon arrived, we had been crazily doing window shopping. Here you could find all sort of handicraft, furniture, clothes and so on with reasonable prices (but you must bargain). Among all, my passion and shopping priority is still the Tibetan Thanka Painting. So, I dragged poor Alex running in and out of many Thangka painting shops.

I enjoy walking into shops which operated by either artist themselves or within the artists community. Not those run by art dealers. Often I found artists or artist communities are more passionate and able to provide in depth information about their Thangka paintings. Dealers on the other hand, aim more to sell their work and less interested in the art. They also tend to have less knowledge about their paintings.

On our trip to Kathmandu Durbar Square, Monastery Thanka Painting Art School crossing our path by accident. ‘It is an art school, let’s see what they teach.’ As an art teacher for some years, of course I am curious to know how the school is teaching and who are learning. Walking up the stairs, we bumped into D.B. Lama, a gentle young man with a welcome-smile. He brought us up to the 3rd floor to watch students learning, but unfortunately not many people were there.

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We then proceed to the 2nd floor where he displayed some Thangka paintings. “We are not buying anything here. We just bought a Mantra painting else where.” I warned him so that he wouldn’t be disappointed if we didn’t buy anything. “Oh! No problem. I just like to share with you some Thangka I have.”

Apparently DB is a Thangka teacher, an artist himself as well as he sell paintings for his community. He has very refine pieces, mainly painted by his community up in the village. I observed his way of handling the works – very careful and gentle – almost like a father carrying his new born babies. When he talks about Thankga he speaks with passion. More over, his prices are slightly cheaper than the outside shops. In the hours we spent in this place, we sat and chatted, along with tea after tea. I seem to learn a lot more about Thangka then all the other time I spent on.

At the end, we couldn’t resist the temptation. There is one particular piece in the shop we both like it very much, but unfortunately we can’t afford it. So, as an alternative, I bought a golden piece of Avalokiteshvara instead.

Jing

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