Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Tsongkapa

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 100612)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
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

Tsongkapa Lobzang Dragpa (1357-1419) founder of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism, surrounded by life-story scenes - from a set of of fifteen paintings. These fifteen paintings are also based on a block print set which has been reproduced many times.

This composition is the fourth (right second) in the series of fifteen paintings. It was commissioned by an individual named Tsultrim Jampa.

The standard set of paintings depicting the life story of Je Tsongkapa, designed in the early 18th century by Jamyang Shepa (1648-1721/1722), has fifteen individual compositions. There are several iconographic systems based on explanatory texts laying out the life of Tsongkapa chronologically accompanied by number references. Short inscriptions and the sequential number are often found with each painting following the narrative vignette.

There are two main compositional formats for the sets of paintings. The first format [1] is symmetrical with Tsongkapa depicted at the center of each composition. The second format [2] is asymmetrical with Tsongkapa appearing at the right or left side of the composition. The majority of compositions follow the symmetrical format. This format is also based on the Jamyang Shepa textual explanation. In the 18th century a set of wood blocks were carved making it possible to create large numbers of block print images on paper, cloth or silk.

Jeff Watt 1-2016 [updated 5-2017]

Reverse of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: "To the bodhisattva Manjushri I bow!

Embodiment of the omniscients of the enlightened conquerors, gathered as one - the second buddha Lord Manjushri [Tsongkapa], to the body, speech, mind, qualities and activities I bow with confidence and devotion.

Oh Lord, in this realm [painting] all the activities of the virtuous ones, are finely composed with the life story, painted here in order for recollection, created as a worship object for Tsultrim Jampa.

May all the merit accumulated through creating this, not only for oneself but also, become a cause of temporary and permanent result [for others].

The excellent tradition of the essence of the Buddha''''s teachings [Gelug], may those who uphold, preserve, and spread the teachings fill the earth. The religious precepts of the stainless teaching and practice, may it flourish until the end of samsara.

May all those who have seen, heard or touched this, all those with the teacher Lord Manjushri [Tsongkapa] not separate, following the victorious ones, may they seek great benefit for the sake of all beings and the Dharma."

Special Features: (Printed script (Uchen), handprints, includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Teacher: Tsongkapa Life Story Main Page
Teacher: Tsongkhapa Main Page
Publication: A Tale of Thangkas