Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Pilgrimage Art Main Page

Painting: Confusions & Controversies

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Pilgrimage Paintings
- Site Locations
- Tourist & Souvenir Art
- Temple Shop Art (Field Museum)
- Suspect Art
- Fake Art
- Dali Kingdom Fake & Copy Art
- Provenance
- Confusions
- Others...

- Pilgrimage Art: Overview
- Pilgrimage & Temple Shop Art
- Pilgrimage Art: Cityscapes
- Tibetan tourist thangkas in the Kathmandu Valley (Article Review)

Pilgrimage Art has three major subjects, Site Locations, Paintings and Bodhgaya. Site locations is further divided into Mountains, Town/Cityscapes, Temples/Monasteries and Stupas. Paintings are divided into pre-made works, paintings for Newar Merchants, temple shop, and tourist paintings. Bodhgaya is divided into Shakyamuni life story sculptural models and Bodhgaya temple sculptural models. The three additional topics of Provenance, Art as Commodity and Gift Exchange are also important.

Art as commodity was known in Tibet for the last several hundred years with paintings produced in advance for sale to pilgrims and traders traveling to Tibet from India, Nepal, China and Mongolia. In Tibet the market places of Lhasa and Shigatse were the primary sources for such paintings and objects of general consumption. In China, pilgrimage art was mainly sold in and around the entrances to temples and monasteries. The quality of such art ranges widely from very good to very, very, bad. The poorest in quality generally being the Temple Shop Art where accuracy of subject and figures just didn't matter.

In general, Pilgrimage Art can vary in quality from very good to very poor. Often the best of the quality is found with the paintings made for the Newar (Nepalese) merchants travelling back and forth from Kathmandu to Shigatse and Lhasa.

Jeff Watt 3-2015 [updated 6-2017]

(The images below are only a small selection of examples chosen from the links above).