Himalayan Art Resources

Glossary: Painting Traditions & Styles - Names & Terms

Glossary: Painting Traditions & Styles | Glossary Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Terminology & Classification of Style Names
- The difference between Traditions & Styles
- Country Styles
- Regional Styles
- Traditions
- Religious Tradition Styles
- Artist & Style Name
- Monastery Styles
- Confusions & Controversies

Ajanta & Ellora Style, India: located in South India the caves house the earliest surviving Buddhist wall murals and the earliest Wheel of Life painting that relate to the Indian origins of Himalayan style art.

Araniko School: (Yuan Period Art): the artistic traditions based on the works and influence of Araniko during the Yuan dynasty under the religious influence of Chogyal Pagpa and rulership of Kublai Khan.

Bhutan (Bhutanese Style): the unique colour, composition and iconography of paintings in Bhutan.

Chengde Style, China: relating to a specific style of painting common to the Potala Temple in the town of Chengde north of Beijing.

China, Chinese Style: Beijing, Chengde, Yonghegong: a general category of art from the Beijing area spanning the mid 17th century thought the 19th century. The workshops of the Imperial palace, Yonghegong temple and the Potala copy in Chengde are the centers of artistic production.

Chi'u Gangpa (own style - see Gyantse Murals, Scroll Paintings 15th century): an artist who is believed to have worked on the Gyantse murals in the mid to late 15th century. Some scholars place this artist a hundred years earlier and into the 14th century.

Choying Gyatso, Mensar Tradition (New Menri), 17th century: an artist active in the Shigatse area of Tsang in the 17th century and thought to have worked on art projects during the construction of the Potala Palace. He is believed to be the originator of the New Menri style of painting.

Choying Dorje (own style), 17th century: a notable religious figure, the 10th Karmapa, spent much of his life in East Tibet and Yunan Province of China creating both sculpture and paintings.

Cho Tashi (own style), 17th/18th century (Lhatog, Khampa Gar): an artist of East Tibet associated with the religious center of the Drugpa Kagyu known as Khampa Gar. He created his own style based on Menri, Khyenri and Kham-ri.

Composition Types: the four types of composition are (1) Grouped Figures, (2) Register, (3) Repeated Figure and (4) Floating.

Confusions & Controversies: a category of numerous subjects that deal with everything from fake art to over-restoration, temple shop art and copies both old and new.

Dragyab Monastery, Kham, 18th/19th century, (artist: Khazi Lhazo): East Tibet, south of Chamdo, where the artist Khazi Lhazo was active for most of his career.

Gongkar Chode Monastery, 15th/16th century, (artist: Khyentse Chenmo): believed to house examples of murals painted by Khyentse Chenmo in the late 15th early 16th century. This is the most important site for the study of early Khyenri style and Khyenri Tradition painting.

Guge/Ngari Style, 11th to 15th century (Kashmir influenced): .

Gyagar Style (India), 11th to 13th century.

Gyanag Style (China).

Gyantse Palkor Chode: Murals, Scroll Paintings, 15th century (artist: Chi'u Gangpa?).

Kache Style (Kashmir), 11th to 15th century.

Kadam Style (Indian Style), 11th to 13th century.

Kham-ri Style, 17th century to the present (Black Ground).

Khampa Gar Tradition (Lhatog): 16th/17th century, (artist: Cho Tashi): a style based on Menri, Khyenri and Kham-ri developed by the artist known as Cho Tashi from the Drugpa Kagyu religious center of Khampa Gar in East Tibet.

Karma Gar-ri Tradition: a collection of painting styles originating with the gifts of the Yongle Emperor to the 5th Karmapa in the early 15th century. The over-all composition, background and landscape features of the paintings are in a Chinese aesthetic for depicting Shakyamuni Buddha and the Sixteen Great Elders (Arhats). The Karma Gar artists copied the landscape background of these paintings and replaced the arhats with lineage teachers of the Karma Kagyu Tradition. This tradition of using the Karma Gar-ri style for creating sets of paintings depicting the lineage teachers continues to the present day.

Kashmir Style:

Khazi Lhazo (own style), 18th/19th century.

Khyentse Chenmo, Khyenri Style, 15th/16th century.

Konchog Phende of E (16th century). A menri painting style artist said to be the teacher of Namkha Tashi who is credited with the creation and spread of the Karma Gar-ri.

Lhasa Style:

Lhatog Tradition (Khampa Gar), Kham, 16th/17th century, (artist: Cho Tashi).


Menri Tradition, 15th/16th century.

Menri, New:

Menri, Old:

Menri Gar-ri Mixed Style:

Mensar Tradition(New Menri):

Minimalist Style Painting:

Mongolia, Mongolian Style.

Namkha Tashi (1555-1603): the artist of the Karma Gar, Karmapa tent encampment, who is believed to have created the first Karma Kagyu lineage paintings based on the gifts of arhat paintings given by the Yongle Emperor to the 5th Karmapa.

Nepal, Nepalese Style: the art of Kathmandu Valley, primarily by the Newar and Shakya artists. There are several different sub-styles depending on religious tradition, time and where the artists are located, such as Kathmandu, Mustang, Tibet, China, Mongolia or South Asia.

New Menri (Menri Sarma, Mensar): a painting tradition named in the 17th century and believed to be created or heavily influenced by an artist active in the Shigatse area of Tsang named Choying Gyatso. The new Menri tradition is very ornate with the full composition of a painting being used in depicting deities, people or verdant lush landscape.

Ngari/Guge Style, 11th to 15th century (Kashmir influenced).

Ngor Ewam Monastery Style, 15th century (Newar and Tibetan artists).

Pagan Style, Burma:

Palpung Monastery Tradition, 18th century: a unique collection of painting styles developed and encouraged at Palpung by Situ Panchen Chokyi Jungne. The figures of deities are primarily employing a Khyenri painting tradition and the background of the compositions are sparse with little or no landscape and ornamentation following a Kham-ri artistic aesthetic.

Palri Style (Nepal), 11th to 15th century: the art of Kathmandu Valley, primarily by the Newar and Shakya artists.

Potala Palace Style, U, 17th century: essentially a New Menri tradition of mural painting used in the decorating of the Potala after construction.

Rebkong Tradition (Tongren), Amdo, 17th century. A collection of different styles and traditions. A chapel in the Nyentog Monastery painted by Garu Pandita employs the painting methods of Menri and Khyenri together.

Taglung Style (India/Nepal Style), late 12th to 14th century.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery Tradition, Tsang, 16th century, (founding artist: Choying Gyatso, 17th century): a collection of styles and traditions almost synonymous with New Menri and Tsang-ri style painting. From the 17th century to the 19th century Tashi Lhunpo developed a number of different styles related to the earlier New Menri of Choying Gyatso and the images on block prints originating from Nartang Monastery.

Trehor Namkha Gyan (own style), 18th century: a prolific artist of East Tibet originating in the Trehor area. He predominantly painted Gelug subjects with a few paintings commissioned by or for the Dongthog Monastery of the Ngor Tradition. At this time it is very difficult to distinguish between the works of Namkha Gyan and the works of his students, and student’s students.

Tsang-ri Style, 17th century to the present: relating to the painting styles of Tsang Province primarily centered in and around Shigatse and related to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. Tsang-ri is also a term sometimes used to refer to New Menri.

U-ri Style, 17th century to the present: a general term referring to art produced in the Central Tibetan province of U, distinct from Tsang.

Yonghegong Monastery Style: relating to a specific style of painting common to the Yonhegong Temple complex in North Beijing. This style is very much related to the Potala Temple in the town of Chengde just north of Beijing and also to some works created in the Palace workshops.

Yongle Style Painting.

Jeff Watt 12-2015 [updated 4-2018]