Paubhā (Devanagari: पौभा) is a traditional religious painting made by the Newar people of Nepal. Paubhas depict deities, mandalas or monuments, and are used to help the practitioner meditate. The Tibetan equivalent is known as Thangka. Most paubhas show Buddhist subjects, but a few have Hindu themes. The paintings are made to earn religious merit both for the artist and the patron. Newar Buddhists commission artists to paint paubhas which are displayed during festivals and other special occasions. The traditional painters of paubhas are the Chitrakar caste who are known as Pun (पुं) in Nepal Bhasa
INTRODUCTION TO THANKA
A thangka, variously spelt as thangka, tangka, thanka, or tanka (Nepali pronunciation: [ˈथान्का]; Tibetan: ཐང་ཀ་; Nepal Bhasa: पौभा), is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. Thangkas are traditionally kept unframed and rolled up when not on display, mounted on a textile backing somewhat in the style of Chinese scroll paintings, with a further silk cover on the front. So treated, thangkas can last a long time, but because of their delicate nature, they have to be kept in dry places where moisture will not affect the quality of the silk.
Most thangkas are relatively small, comparable in size to a Western half-length portrait, but some are extremely large, several metres in each dimension; these were designed to be displayed, typically for very brief periods on a monastery wall, as part of religious festivals. Most thangkas were intended for personal meditation or instruction of monastic students. They often have elaborate compositions including many very small figures. A central deity is often surrounded by other identified figures in a symmetrical composition. Narrative scenes are less common, but do appear.
Akṣobhya [东方不动如来] is the embodiment of ‘mirror knowledge’, A knowledge of what is real, and what is illusion, or a mere reflection of actual reality. The mirror is mind itself – clear like the sky, empty yet luminous. Holding all the images of space and time, yet untouched by them. He represents the eternal mind, and the Vajra family is connected with reason and intellect. Its brilliance illuminates the darkness of ignorance, its sharpness cuts through confusion.The Vajra family, to which Akṣobhya belongs, is associated with the element of water. This is why the two colours of Vajra are blue or white. Bright white like sun reflecting off water, and blue, like the depths of the ocean. Even if the surface of the ocean is blown into crashing waves, the depths remain undisturbed, imperturbable. And though water may seem ethereal and weightless, in truth it is extremely heavy. Water flows into the lowest place and settles there. It carves through solid rock, but calmly, without violence. When frozen, it is hard, sharp, and clear like the intellect, but to reach its full potential, it must also be fluid and adaptable like a flowing river. These are all the essential qualities of Akṣobhya.