Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tsongkapa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 100611)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1700 - 1799
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Publication: A Tale of Thangkas
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: bdr:P64

Interpretation / Description

Lord Tsongkapa, Lobzang Dragpa (1357-1419): founder of the Gelugpa School, emanating from the heart of the bodhisattva Maitreya.

Tsongkapa Biographical Details

In the appearance of a monastic scholar with a yellow pandita hat and the orange patchwork robes of a fully ordained monk he performs with both hands the mudra of Dharma teaching at the heart while holding the stems of two lotus flowers blossoming at both ears supporting on the right a wisdom sword and at the left a book. With the two legs folded in vajra posture he sits upon a moon disc and pink lotus seat surrounded by an ornate gold nimbus of wishing jewels and rainbow spheres. At the front, to the right and left of a begging bowl, sit the two close disciples of Je Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Dharma Rinchen (1364-1432) and Kedrup Geleg Pal Zangpo (1385-1438). Both wear monastic robes and yellow hats each holding a book in the left hand while the right hands assume postures of explication of the teachings. Emanating from the heart of the bodhisattva Maitreya, dwelling in the Tushita heaven above, all three are seated atop a great white bank of billowing clouds.

"From the heart of the Lord of the hundred gods of Tushita,
On the peak of a cloud, bright white like a mound of fresh yogurt,
Lord of Dharma, Omniscient Lobzang Dragpa, together with sons;
Please come here." (Gelugpa liturgical verse).

Seated in a western style with the legs in front Maitreya is flanked on both sides with Dipamkara Atisha to the left and Tsongkapa to the right. The heaven is lavish with ornate buildings and scenic landscapes, populated by bodhisattvas, saints and heavenly gods. At the bottom center is the mountain Sumeru. On the left side is the protector 'Outer' Yama Dharmaraja, blue-black in colour, with the head of a buffalo, holding a bone stick and lasso, riding on the back of a blue buffalo, surrounded by flame. On the right side is a kneeling donor figure offering a mandala plate with both hands.

Jeff Watt 8-1998 [2-2016]

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Teacher: Tsongkhapa Main Page
Teacher: Tsongkapa (Painting Masterworks)
Painting Tradition: Kandze Valley & Trehor Namka Gyan
Publication: A Tale of Thangkas
Teacher: Tsongkapa Art History
Teacher: Tsongkapa (Descending from Tushita)
Teacher: Tsongkapa Iconography
Collection: Bonhams, Hong Kong (December 2nd, 2020)