Painting and sculpture are two of the most representative items in Tibetan art. Tibetan painting is originated from ancient rock paintings, which mainly depict animals such as deer, yak, sheep, horse, and hunting activities. During the Tubo period, the art of painting was flourishing. Specially, after Buddhism was introduced to Tibet, the religious paintings had been further developed. The art of Buddhism had been kept and inherited the traditional technique of Tibetan nationality. They have paid more stress on absorbing the art essence of India, Nepal and Han national cultures with unique splendor and style. The expressive form in Tibetan painting mainly is in stone inscription, fresco, Thangka, etc.
The fresco has a grand scale of capacity, which deals with a wide range of religion, politics, history, economy, culture, Tibetan medicine and social life, etc. It all emcompasses varied contents from Buddhist inscription, religious doctrine, mythology, legend, historical story, living scene to the landscapes of mountain and river or plume with birds and flower and picture¡¯s decoration etc.
The drawing style of the frescos is so particular that its colors are inclined too cold, dark. The colors chiefly consist of deep blue, purple, grey, earthly yellow and white. Mainly lines and traces in white depict it. The coloring is applied to be simply, bold or leave empty and blank. The fresco is not only provided with artistic effects and unified with the palace¡¯s harmonized atmosphere, but also the artistic image of exaggeration, the vivid and vigorous expression or the strongly unsophisticated flavor of decoration.
Thangka is another traditional art of painting next to mural painting, which is a roll of painting with decoration in colored ribbons. It has a clear national character and is strongly in religious colors and in unique art style. The theme of Thangka has drawn from the social history of Tibet and the historical and genre paintings for living customs and also reflected the scientific range of astronomy, calendar, and Tibetan medicine and medical treatment. The Thangka has remarkable characteristic of making a painting according to history or explaining history on painting. But the major subject of Thangka in Tibet is religion. Tibetan Thangkas over 80% are Buddha¡¯s images, preachings, monasteries, religious figures and stories. Thangkas, which describe Tibetan history and natural science, are all painted strongly in religious color. Tibetan folk art in sculpture can be divided into several styles such as stone carving, copper carving, clay sculpture, animal bone sculpture and butter sculpture of which stone carving is most popular.