Tsaklis or Initiation Cards
For information about tsakli and links to other sources please
tsakli information page.
Here we are presenting a small part of the collection of tsakli we have
accumulated in over a decade of collecting this little known but very
affordable expression of
We use the word "tsakli" and Tibetan "initiation card" interchangeably.
"tsagli" and "tsakali" are variants
of the spelling. Many Tibetans pronounce the word with a silent "k" so it
sounds more like sal-li.
We had the choice of either presenting detailed photos of a smaller number of
tsakli or showing
group photos of a larger number and only providing an occasional detailed
photograph. Because we have such a large collection we
have decided to do a little of both. On this page we will be showing sets of
tsakli and only one photo of a representative card from the set. We have
another page for displaying
For each group of tsakli we are providing a link to a representative card and
occasionally a link to a photo of
the reverse side if that is of interest. We would also like to point out that
the group photos have been taken with a digital camera while the
images of individual cards and their reverse sides have been done using a
scanner. Because of the controlled lighting and direct contact with the scanner
surface these scanned images are more representative of the actual cards than
are the photographs.
Click anywhere inside the group photo to be taken to the sample tsakli; use
your back button to return to the main page.
As will be apparent from our display here the painting quality on tsaklis can
anywhere from near thangka quality in detail and expression to
nearly cartoon-like. Many tsakli lend themselves
readily to matting and framing, either individually or in groups.
To request a price list, please put "tsakli price list" in the subject line and
send us an email by
Tsaklis or Initiation Cards
Four tsakli depicting wrathful protectors make up this set. Each wears a tiger
skin around his waist, has a third eye and wild hair, and holds a sharp
instrument in his right hand. Each cards measures 4-1/4 x 6-1/4
The reverse side
of each has six or seven lines in the
Ume script. The cards appear quite old and the paper is very soft, not at all
brittle. The fronts have not been glazed, so the paint, though worn and
abraded in places, is still very vibrant. The card in the individual scan,
both front and back, is the far right.
These five tsakli all belonged to the same set, and we suspect that it might
have been the same as the four above, though these look and feel quite
different because these have been glazed and are quite hard and stiff. They
are virtually identical dimensionally to the four above (4-1/4 x 6-1/4), the
figures are on very similar lotus bases and the coloration is the same, though
with these it is very darkened. Unlike the ones above, there is no inscription
on the reverse sides of these.
The twenty cards in this set each measure 4-3/8 x 5-1/4. They have all been
slightly glazed - just enough to make taking a good group photograph very
difficult. Click on the link to see the individual scan and you will get a
much better feel for their appearance. A strip of cloth has been glued to the
top and bottom of the
of each card, and all have a line of writing in the u-chen script.
The cards themselves are in good condition but they have all darkened with
age; moreover they are all flecked with tiny dark spots, front and back.
Measuring 3-3/4 x 5-1/2, these nine cards all show similar damage to the
bottom margins, probably the result of dampness. Fortunately, the damage has
been largely confined to the margin and the painting itself escaped much or any
paint loss. The painting quality of these cards is very fine and delicate.
They also have interesting calligraphy in the ume script on the
. Though smaller than some, these would be particularly good cards for
A set of 31 tsakli. Each measures 3-7/8 x 4-3/8 inches. These cards are all
in good condition like the example shown. Most but not all have
considerable calligraphy on the reverse. This is is the Ume'script, a cursive
form of Tibetan writing used for both personal and textual purposes. Click
anywhere within the group photograph to see a photo of the individual card
being used as a sample. (Use your Back button to return to the main page).
to see a photo of the reverse side of the same tsakli.
The sample is the farthest card to the right in the third row from the bottom
- a small image of Manjushree in front of a large vase.
Miscellaneous group of thirteen tsakli. Individual cards like
these are displayed on a separate page of
To be continued....