Creating Buddhas

By Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost
60 min., 2008

Creating Buddhas is a documentary about a woman who makes Buddhas out of silk. Trained in Dharamsala, India for nine years, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo is one of the few female fabric thangka makers in the world. Fabric thangka is a silk embroidered and appliquéd art form in Tibetan Buddhism that is so rare that in some places it is only seen once a year, and then only for a few hours. This film explores Leslie’s life changing journey from her initial discovery of fabric thangka through her mastery of the art, and reveals the history and spiritual significance of fabric thangka in Buddhism. Throughout this film, we see Leslie produce a thangka of the female Buddha Tara. In a sense, Leslie is like Tara. Leslie mastered a male tradition and we see fabric thangka through feminine eyes.