This was a rather special collaboration with the young, emerging, talented Thangka painter Sahil Bhopal.
Created in the Karma Gadri style of thangka painting, this work was especially commissioned by Tashi Mannox with as subject the rarely depicted great scholar and calligrapher Thönmi Sambhota.
Sahil entrusted Tashi to personally add the two principle letters ཨ to the golden disks, as well as the Mani mantra within the thangka.
Sambhota is a historical figure responsible for developing the foundation of the Tibetan writing systems in the seventh century A.D, which form the basis of the Tibetan language today.
This thangka features many historical references to Thönmi Sambhota, such as rainbow beams emanating from him that display two golden disks marked with the letter ཨ, the essential and last letter of the Tibetan alphabet.
On the left is ཨ in the classical Uchen script and on the right is the same letter ཨ in the Umed class of scripts. These represent the two main streams of script styles he created and that are still in use today.
Held in his lap is a tablet inscribed with a rendition of a Mani mantra, oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ, which was presented to King Songtsen Gampo as the first sample Sambhota created of the Tibetan Uchen script.
This thangka of Thönmi Sambhota was initially published in Tashi’s book ‘Sacred Script’ – A Meditative Journey Through Tibetan Calligraphy. But being such a rare and clear depiction, this image soon became popular; shared in many other publications as well as being used as the primary image on Thönmi Sambhota’s Wikipedia page.