Urgyen Sonam – Master Silk Applique Thangka Artist & Founder of Little Tibet
Urgyen Sonam is a renowned Silk Thangka artist. Thangka is a devotional and spiritual art form exclusive to Tibet which uses techniques of appliqué and embroidery on fine strong silk to create dramatically beautiful, refined Buddhist iconography.
Silk Thangka making is practiced and mastered by few and is considered the pinnacle of the various thangka arts. Reverence is due to the intricate and time consuming skills required and the use of exquisite materials that last for generations.
Urgyen Sonam was born in Eastern Tibet and spent his childhood travelling by foot to sacred sites. When he was 13, Urgyen left Tibet with his brother and went to India. In India, Urgyen became a monk and specialised in ritual music and chanting. A natural affinity with the arts led him to undertake a five-year apprenticeship with Phuntsok Tsering – The Dalai Lama’s personal thangka maker and textile artist.
Since completing his apprenticeship, Urgyen has dedicated the last 15 years to the art of silk thangka making and preserving this sacred Buddhist practice and artistic knowledge. He now lives and works in Australia, and carries on this traditional Tibetan art form from his home in Queensland.
Urgyen has created thangkas for monasteries and unique pieces for individual’s personal practice and their homes. He teaches courses and showcases his works in national and private art galleries.
Based in Australia, Urgyen is one of only a few traditionally trained Tibetan silk thangka artists in the West. He travels regularly showcasing his pieces and holding workshops around the world.