Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Type: Gold Fill Paintings

Gold Fill Paintings | Gold Ground

Gold fill paintings are related to Gold Ground, also called Gold Background. The Tsaparang cave murals in West Tibet have a number of examples of gold fill figures. The gold colour has no iconographic meaning. The gold is applied as an added expense to the cost of the painting which is also related to the merit earned by the sponsor of the paintings or murals.

Black, red and gold ground paintings have caused some confusion among 20th century art historians and religious scholars who have taken the the gold red or black colour to be iconographically intended which would also mean that there must be a textual tradition describing those deities in those specific colours.

It is quite common for only the face of a figure to be filled with gold. in other examples it could be all of the primary and secondary figures or the entire body of all the figures. It is up to the artist and the donor to decide on the amount of gold that is used.

Shakyamuni Buddha is the only figure that is textually described as having a gold colour which is said to be 'radiant like a mountain of gold.'

"Born in the Shakya race through skillful means and compassion;
destroying the army of Mara who was unable to be destroyed by others;
with a body radiant like a mountain of gold.
Homage to you, King of Shakya." (Tibetan liturgical verse).

Jeff Watt 6-2017

(The images below are only a selection of gold fill figures).