Himalayan Art Resources

Painting Set: Khon Family Lineage (Sonam Wangpo & Tutob Wangchug)

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The painting set is securely dated to the first half of the 17th century and possibly not later than 1621.

The central figure of this painting set is Sonam Wangpo, the 24th Sakya Tridzin (1559-1621 [TBRC P2664]). The nephew of Sonam Wangpo, Jamyang Tutob Wangchug (1588-1637 [TBRC P790]), is repeated in several compositions in the large painting set, possibly all of the subsequent compositions.

Sonam Wangpo was the son of Ngagchang Chenpo Kunga Rinchen (1517-1584), the 24th Sakya Tridzin. Sonam Wangpo and Ngagchang Dragpa Lodro were half brothers, sons of the great Ngagchang Chenpo Kunga Rinchen (1517-1584), the 24th Sakya Tridzin. Tutob Wangchug was not a Sakya Throne Holder, he declined the position in favour of his younger brother Ngagwang Kunga Wangyal, 27th Sakya Tridzin (1592-1620), followed by the youngest brother Jamgon Ameshab Kunga Sonam, the 28th Sakya Trizin (1559-1621 [TBRC P2664]). It is possible that all of the central figures in the painting set except for the 1st and central composition are depictions of Tutob Wangchug and relate his various and many travels along with his life story.

Tutob Wangchug was the son of Ngagchang Dragpa Lodro (1563-1617) the 26th Sakya Tridzin. He had six siblings. Two sisters died early as did two of his brothers. His younger brother, Ngagwang Kunga Wangyal, passed away at the age of twenty-nine leaving Tutob Wangchug and his youngest brother Jamgon Ameshab. Considered a gifted child he did well with his studies which began early in his life. Both he and his brothers were enthroned together at the age of thirteen. He took monks vows and became a student of Muchen. He completed many retreats and it was said that the protector deities were his servants. Later he met his uncle Dagchen Kunga Legpa of Tsedong (16th century [TBRC P10480]) who was a well established teacher renowned from Tsang all the way to Kham and beyond. Tutob Wangchug received many teachings and was left with the responsibility of taking care of his uncles activities after the passing of Kunga Legpa. Taking the responsibilities seriously, he traveled throughout Tibet, Amdo, Kham and Mongolia. In Dartsedo he settled political disputes as well as teaching extensively. It is said that he traveled to all three regions of Tibet.

Tutob Wangchug was famous for having many different appearances such as a fully ordained monk, a yogi like Milarepa, and a Tantric master with all of the regalia. He travelled extensively, was involved in writing about art and the commissioning of art. He also engaged in negotiating political disputes local and regional within the greater Tibet. Care should be taken not to miss-identify Jamyang Tutob Wangchug in this painting set with the younger brother of Dagchen Kunga Lodro (1729-1790 [TBRC P805]) who also had the name Tutob Wangchug but died at the youthful age of twenty-three (1734-1757 [TBRC P9158]). Both of these descendants of the Khon family having the same name of Tutob Wangchug were associated with the yogi tradition of Milarepa. It is possible that the younger Tutob Wangchug was considered an incarnation of the earlier Tutob Wangchug and both of them emanations of Milarepa. A third Tutob Wangchug Zhonnu (1651-1729) can be found in the Tsedong branch of the Khon family. Some information on this figure is preserved in the writings of Dagchen Kunga Lodro.

It should be noted that there are different systems for enumerating the Sakya Throne Holders. In some systems Sonam Wangpo is #24 and in others he is #25.

Image Numbers & Identifications:
- #930 (right side) ?
- #931 (left side) ?
- #932 (left side) ?
- #933 Tutob Wangchug (left side)
- #934 (right side) ?
- #69908 Tutob Wangchug (right side)
- #69909 Tutob Wangchug (right side)
- #81828 (right side) ?
- #81829 (left side) ?
- #89967 (left side) ?
- #89968 Sonam Wangpo (center composition)
- #89969 (left side) ?

- Central Figure of Composition
- Right Side Figures
- Left Side Figures

Jeff Watt 3-2014

(Thutob Wangchug, mthu stobs dbang phyug. 'jam mgon ames zhabs kun dga' bsod nams (gsung 'bum) Volume Ga page 629-632. dpal ldan sa skya pa'i gdung rabs rin po che ji ltar byon pa'i tshul gyi rnam thar ngo mtshar rin po che'i bang mdzod dgos 'dod kun 'byung).