A few days ago, a large Thangka, painted during 1402 to 1424 A.D. was sold for 348,000,000 Hong Kong dollars, or 280,000,000 yuan (nearly 45 million US dollars) in Hong Kong Christie’s Autumn Auction. The price set a new world record for a single piece of Chinese art.

A Thangka, is a painting on cotton, or silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala of some sort. Generally, Thangkas are known to last a long time and retain much of their lustre, but because of their delicate nature, they must kept in dry areas, where moisture will not affect the quality of the silk. Thangkas are intended to serve as a record of, and guide for contemplative experience.

The 3.1 by 2.3 meter (almost 10 feet x almost 8 feet) Thangka was made under the reign of Emperor Yongle (1360-1424 A.D.), the 3rd emperor of China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.).

Liu Yiquan, a Chinese billionaire, purchased this piece of art, feeling it was too important to miss. This Thangka is a silk tapestry, with brightly colored gold and silk threads, depicting the story of Raktayamari, ‘The Red Conqueror of Death’, embracing his consort, Vajravetali, according to Christie’s.  This Thangka is the only one of its kind still in private hands – two other known examples are in the Jokhang Monastery in Tibet.

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