Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama (1617-1682) surrounded by scenes depicting his life story from birth to death. The story begins at the viewers top left and moves counter-clockwise to the viewers top right.
Dalai Lama Biographical Details
He holds to the heart a vajra scepter and the stem of a lotus blossoming over the right shoulder supporting a small figure of Padmasambhava. The left hand holds an upturned bell and the stem of a lotus blossoming over the left shoulder and supporting a small figure of Tangtong Gyalpo.
Wearing a yellow pandita hat and a meditation cloak he sits atop a cushioned throne with a table of ritual objects in front.
The Life story of the 5th Dalai Lama is told in the surrounding narrative vignettes beginning at the top right of the central figure and moving downwards counter-clockwise ending at the top left. (See the Numbered Narrative Image).
1. Descent from the Potala pureland of Avalokiteshvara followed by birth and a rainfall without clouds.
2. Flight from danger and an assasination attempt by the Tsang rulers. Although he escaped, his mother was murdered.
3. Debating on philosophical topics.
4. Visiting the location where Panchen Lobsang Chogyan was recognized.
5. A vision of Jowo Atisha and Tsongkapa.
6. Recognized by Panchen Lobsang Chogyan and Tri Rinpoche Kunchog Chophel after a divination (lottery draw) at Reting Monastery.
a. Receiving teachings from teachers like Kur and Mondro.
b. Some sort of fight or altercation, possibly with the Mongols.
7. Refused blessing to a Mongolian Lama.
8. Welcomed to Ganden Podrang by Desi Sonam Chophel and others.
c. The start of the Potala Palace construction.
9. Sera Monastery.
10. Ganden Monastery.
11. Giving teachings at the Jowo Lhakang in Lhasa.
12. Visiting Beijing and meeting with the Chinese Emporer.
13. Passing away. Before his death, the Dalai Lama told Desi Sangye Gyatso to keep his death a secret by saying he was in retreat.
14. During retreat, the Dalai Lama appeared by manifesting in the form of a crow.
15. The teacher Lhundrub.
(Inscriptions are written in gold lettering beneath each narrative vignette).
Jeff Watt 2-2005