Thangka are painted with all natural vegetable dyes extracted and real gold ink f. The colors are stabilized with a tree sap to give them great longevity. Painting a Thangka requires great concentration, which is a meditation practice in itself. The artist also contemplate the images in the painting and their metaphysical meanings. The Thangka is a portable shrine that has been used since ancient times by Mahayana Buddhist Monks for various ceremonies and also as teaching aids. They are traditionally encased in silk brocade frames which allow them to roll up for the monks to travel with them. Each silk frame also has a golden silk cover that comes down over the front. This is traditionally only raised up when the Thangka Painting is activated for teaching, rituals, or meditation.