Thangka & House of Cards

I absolutely love this show and the characters. I think the relation between Frank and Claire is one of my all-time favourite on screen relationship! Season 3 ended just a few days back and like always there were some scenes that stuck! As a part of a research paper I was working on I was looking at forms of art that have made it into popular culture and one of them is Thangka. It’s a Tibetan Buddhist painting depicted a deity or mandala on cloth. The first time I encountered this artform was on my visit to McLeodganj in the Himachal region of India which houses hundreds of Tibetan refugees. Also, the previous resident of my hostel room left her remnants in the form of a Thangka poster pasted on my almirah (which also became the inspiration for this post in one of my several bouts of day-dreaming). So anyway, coming back to the point, check out this scene from House of Cards when the monks come to The White House as a part of a diplomatic visit:


Frank (on the note to Claire with a photo of the Mandala): My Love, nothing lasts forever, except us. ❤

This is probably one of those scenes that have left a deep impact on me. The sand mandala was created with such focus and minute attention to detail just like Frank and Claire build their lives for themselves by taking one step at a time, carefully. The masterpiece of the monks could be symbolic of the masterpiece that Frank now has i.e. being the President of United States with Claire as the first Lady. At the same time we also see how fragile that position is. We see that Frank wants to create a legacy through AmWorks but he doesn’t realise that in the end, when he dies, it won’t even matter. In the end, the monks just dust it all away. The act of building the masterpiece was a source of pleasure to them and once it was completed they had no qualms in just doing away with it. Maybe that’s a lesson that Frank and Claire should also learn. Or maybe it’s the sign of impending doom. Nevertheless whatever may be the reason, the picture that Frank sends to Claire in the end is a signifier of how badly he wants to preserve what he has.

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