In this category you will find antique Tsakli paintings or initiation cards from Tibet. It also includes miniature paintings from Mongolia that were designed to be housed in a portable shrine or an amuletic container known more widely as a gau (also ghau, gao and g'au). They are similar in appearance to Tibetan thangkas or Tsakli initiation cards but they should be recognised as a unique form of Vajrayana art. In Mongolia they are known as "Burhany Zurag".
Tsakli are traditionally assembled into sets and may represent Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Yidams, Gurus, mantras, sacred symbols and ritual implements. They are considered a very important visual aid when conferring empowerments. The vast majority of these images are painted on cloth or paper.
Some of the miniature paintings shown below will be displayed inside their original gau or reliquary. These containers can be made from silver, copper, brass or wood. Revered as efficacious protection amulets, they were often hung from a strap or cord and then worn directly on the body. Indeed this is one of the main reasons they are much smaller than traditional thangka paintings.They were never intended to be 'art for art’s sake'. They had deep meaning and purpose for those who carried them.