A Thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or Mandala. They often have elaborate compositions including many very small figures. A central deity is often surrounded by other identified figures in a symmetrical composition. Thangkas overflow with symbolism and allusion.
The Thangkas fulfill several important functions for the practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism and are used to teach students and monks about the various aspects of Buddha. Most importantly, Thangka art is a valuable meditation tool and offers a manifestation of the divine that is both visually and mentally stimulating.
On a deeper level Thangka paintings can be seen as a visual expression of the highest state of consciousness, which is the ultimate goal of the Buddhist spiritual path. This is why a Thangka is sometimes called a 'road map to enlightenment' as it shows you the way to this fully awakened state of enlightenment.