Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Type: Red Background

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Red ground is appropriate for all deities that are classified in Buddhist Tantra as Power Deities, along with peaceful deities, powerful teachers and religious leaders. Red ground compositions often include gold outlining, or gold fill for the figures. Red ground paintings began to appear as a popular art form in the 17th century. The popularity can be traced to Central Tibet and the art patronage of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama.

Red ground and gold ground can sometimes be very difficult to recognize as later artists began to combine the two into single compositions. The ground of one painting might be red while all of the figures in the composition are gold filled. The artist might also employ the opposite technique.

Jeff Watt 7-2008 [updated 6-2017]