Choying Dorje was both a Tibetan artist and a religious teacher - head of the Karma Kagyu (Kamtsang) Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism - the 10th Karmapa (1604-1674). His art is unique and the style recognizable. The paintings are known for bright colours, simple repetitive human figures and great detail and care when depicting animals and birds. Arhats were a popular theme as well as deity figures such as Avalokiteshvara, Tara and Marichi. The only nearly complete set of paintings known to have been done by Choying Dorje, and still in existence today, are a set of paintings depicting the Life Story of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Of the nearly two hundred works of art that Choying Dorje created during his life, and subsequently recorded in the various biographies, approximately thirty pieces are currently known to exist. The paintings are most plentiful with agreement amongst most scholars as to their authenticity and attribution. However, with the sculpture, there are fewer known pieces and a greater disagreement as to which sculpture can be accurately attributed to Choying Dorje. (See the Choying Dorje Outline Page).