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Entries for month: October 2010

Sichuan Provincial Museum

October 21, 2010 ·

Images of Tibetan style paintings and sculpture from the public galleries of the Sichuan Provincial Museum in Chengdu, China, have been added to the HAR site [See Gallery Page]. There are now approximately 30 images with some details on the HAR site. Cataloguing is ongoing and more images will be added in the future.

In the beautiful and newly constructed museum there are three primary galleries for Tibetan artifacts: (1) sculpture, (2) shrine room with sculpture and (3) paintings. There are also additional Tibetan and Himalayan artifacts found scattered in other galleries. The Museum's total collection of Tibetan paintings might number as many as several hundred. It is not known how many sculptural objects are in the collection. According to HAR staff, after viewing a portion of the Tibetan painting collection in art storage, the best material in the museum's collection is not on display. The Tibetan collection is known for having a complete, or near complete set, of Gesar of Ling narrative paintings almost identical in composition to the partial set belonging to the Guimet Museum in Paris. Currently only one of those Gesar paintings is on display, although not in the Tibetan galleries.

There are two other important Tibetan museums in Chengdu, aside from a number of private collections of note - the Sichuan University Museum with approximaterly 300 Tibetan paintings and the Minorities University Tibetan Museum with approximately 50 paintings.

Tags: museums

Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara Selected Masterworks

October 19, 2010 ·

A page of Selected Masterworks depicting the form of Avalokiteshvara known as Chaturbhuja has been added to the site.

Avalokiteshvara is commonly referred to as the patron bodhisattva of Tibet. He is practiced by all traditions of Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhism. There are numerous New (Sarma) lineages and forms of practice which span all four Tantric Classifications. In the Nyingma Tradition there are uncounted numbers of Kama and Terma (treasure) traditions of Avalokiteshvara. Amongst all of the different forms of Avalokiteshvara the four armed form of the deity is the most commonly depicted.

Tags: iconography · art

Choggyur Lingpa Lineage Refuge Field

October 16, 2010 ·

This is surely an unusual Refuge Field. It contains elements of both Nyingma and Karma Kagyu Traditions. Probably the most interesting visual element is the line of lineage teachers extending above the head of Vajradhara. This feature follows the Refuge Field description according to the 9th Karmapa and later the commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul. The image has not yet been added to the HAR database. (See the Custom Subject Fields Page).

Tags: iconography · art

Refuge Field Overview Outline

October 16, 2010 ·

An easy to follow Overview Outline has been added to the Refuge Field Main Page.

Tags: iconography

Kagyu Refuge Field Outline Page

October 16, 2010 ·

As for the creation of Refuge Field paintings and the Kagyu Tradition in general, the Drigung appear to be the earliest to adopt this visual model with a number of extant examples. Then follow the Drugpa Kagyu with one example on the HAR website. The Karma Kagyu appears to be the last to adopt the visual form with three pre 1959 examples known to exist. The earliest of those Karma Kagyu Refuge Fields can be dated to between 1900 and 1922 based on inscriptions and a depiction of the 15th Karmapa, Kakyab Dorje (1870/71-1921/22).

Kagyu Refuge Field Main Page
Kagyu Refuge Field Outline Page

Tags: iconography · art

Gelug Refuge Field Block Prints

October 16, 2010 ·

The design for this style of a wood block print Refuge Field composition likely originates in the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery of Shigatse and based on the artistic and iconographic tradition of Konchog Gyaltsen (according to inscription). Looking at an unpainted print image (HAR #71968), the previous incarnations of the Panchen Lamas are clearly depicted in the upper right and left sides of the composition. Of the images exhibited on the Block Print Page, some are direct copies (HAR #74089, 571) from the wood block and others are variations based upon the wood block composition (HAR #94331, 64604). A good example of a variation is seen in HAR #87209 where the original central figure of Tsongkapa has been swapped for the image of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Tags: iconography · art

Gelug Refuge Field Outline Page

October 16, 2010 ·

In the Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism there are numerous Refuge Field composition types distinguished both by central figure and also by support (i.e. lotus or tree): (1) Shakyamuni Buddha, (2) Je Tsongkapa, (3) Pabongka Design, and (4) Lotus Support, and (5) Block Print. The first three types are depicted at the peak of a wish-fulfilling tree, seated on a throne and lotus. The fourth type is placed only on a lotus blossom. The two general types of central figures for all types of Refuge Fields are Shakyamuni Buddha and Je Tsongkapa. The variation of the two subject figures depend on the intention, purpose and function of the painting. The former is a Lama Chopa (Shakyamuni) Refuge Field and the latter a Lamrim Lineage (Tsongkapa) Refuge Field.

Aside from those five general types of Gelug Refuge Fields there are also three miscellaneous types. The first of the miscellaneous types (1) are depictions of the Qianglong Emperor of China portrayed either as a royal figure, or as a monastic. He is pictured at the center of a painted composition, surrounded by the religious figures, deities and protectors typical of the Gelug Tradition. The second (2) is an unusual subject, not completely understood, but likely to be, a set of seven paintings drawn in the composition of a refuge field painting (with a tree as the support). The central subject of each of the paintings is a single buddha surrounded by the One Thousand Buddhas of the Age. A third type of Refuge Field is the Custom Subject Field where any Lama, Buddha or Deity can be placed at the center, surrounded by the appropriate lineage of teachers, related deities and special protector figures.

Tags: iconography

Painting Sets Image

October 12, 2010 ·


The Painting Sets Image is being added to all record pages where the single image of a painting belongs to a set of paintings. In some cases the sets image indicates how many paintings are in the full composition. Sometimes the image is also linked to other paintings from that same set.

Completed Collections with Painting Set Images:
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Rubin Museum of Art, NY
Tibet House, New York
Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY
Philadephia Museum of Fine Art
MFA Boston
Shelley & Donald Rubin Collection

Also see the Painting Sets Outline and the Painting Sets Glossary.

Tags: Sets · painting · art

Glossary Page - Updated

October 11, 2010 ·

The Glossary Page has been updated with more links. There are now eleven (11) specialty glossaries listed at the top of the page.

Tags: Glossary

Amulet Box (Ga'u) Outline Page

October 11, 2010 ·

A new Amulet Box Outline Page has been added to the Amulet Box Main Page. The outline is divided into the five types of boxes and the three components.

Tags: art