Thangka is a Buddhist painting that depicts a Buddhist god, famous scene, or mandala. Thangkas carry great significance for Nepal. Legend has it that Thangkas were exported to Tibet by princess Bhrikuti of Nepal who was married to Sron Tsan Gampo, the then ruler of Tibet. Due to this reason, Thangkas got recognized globally as a Nepali art form. Thangka paintings have great importance for followers of Buddhism and act as a teaching tool that illustrates the life history of Gautam Buddha, lamas, and other gods and goddesses.
One company that has been producing exemplary Thangka paintings with great attention to detail for the past 45 years is Sara Enterprises. Hom Bahadur Tamang, the artist behind the company started learning Thangka painting at the early age of 11 years old and went on to establish Sara Enterprise in 1976. The artists associated with Sara work on intricate and detailed Thangka paintings depicting different gods and famous scenes using natural colors, gold and silver embellish.
Sara’s attention to detail and high-quality work is also visible in their practice of creating the canvas from scratch at their studio. The canvas which forms the base of each Thangka painting is made using white mud and animal skin. Each painting has its own story and offers religious and spiritual beliefs of bringing good energy to the household in which it resides. The company also runs a Thangka school providing training to hundreds of aspiring Thangka artists and also sells hand-made healing bowls that help in relaxation and reduces anxiety.
Sara Enterprises engages with more than 100 artists and produces over 4000 pieces of Thangka paintings a year. The company has its showroom and workshop in Boudha which is open for walk-in customers who are mostly tourists and few locals. The company also sells its Thangka paintings and Healing bowls online through its website and has been exporting the paintings as well. The business was running very smoothly until it was abruptly halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic had a devastating impact on the sales of the company as its key target market – international tourist inflow completely halted forcing the company to downsize.
Sara Enterprises is one of the beneficiaries of the COVID-19 MSME Fund Nepal, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC and FMO – Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, managed by One to Watch (OTW). With the help of the fund, Sara Enterprises was able to receive interest and a collateral-free loan from Nabil Bank, which was utilized mainly for paying outstanding salaries of artists and managing its working capital requirements.
OTW also aims to provide tailored Business Development Services (BDS) to Sara Enterprises and intends to help the company in creating a marketing strategy and streamline its operation and accounting practices.