Thangka paintings perform several different functions. Images of deities can be used as teaching tools when depicting the life (or lives) of the Buddha, describing historical events, or retelling myths associated with other deities or bodhisattva (an enlightened existence or being). Devotional images act as the centerpiece during a ritual or ceremony and are often used as mediums through which one can offer prayers or make requests. Most importantly, religious art is used as a meditation tool to help bring one further down the path of enlightenment. The Buddhist practitioner uses a Thangka image of their meditation deity as a guide to internalizing the Buddha qualities.
Originally, Thangka painting became popular among traveling monks because the scroll paintings were easily rolled and transported from monastery to monastery. These Thangka served as important teaching tools.
"Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light"), is the buddha of healing and medicine in Mahayana Buddhism. In the English language, he is commonly referred to as the "Medicine Buddha.” The analogy of a Buddha being depicted as a doctor who cures the illness of suffering using the medicine of his teachings appears widely in Buddhist scriptures. In Buddhism, illness is seen as stemming from emotional, spiritual and physical sources, and must be treated on all three levels..