Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Dalai Lama VII, Kalzang Gyatso

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 100627)
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:P179

Interpretation / Description

Kalzang Gyatso (1708-1757) in Mahasiddha Appearance, 7th Dalai Lama from a set of likely seven paintings depicting secret Tantric practices. At this time this composition is the only known example from a full set (see detail images). There are several other sets known with the identical composition depicting this subject. The most complete set is in the collection of Tibet House, New Delhi. (See compositions from various sets).

It is believed that the central figure is Kalzang Gyatso, the 7th Dalai Lama accompanied by seven other mahasiddha figures and Tantric symbolism. In front to the middle left side are five standing female figures holding necessary objects for a proper feast offering ritual (ganachakra). The entire set of seven paintings must be understood as a whole to be able to interpret individual compositions such as this painting.

According to the Tibet House painting set the identities of the central figures are:
1. Avalokiteshvara
2. Kalzang Gyatso
3. Kalzang Gyatso
4. Siddha Figure (Kalzang Gyatso)
5. Chakrasamvara Meditational Deity
6. Kalachakra Meditational Deity
7. (Unknown subject)

Based on the meaning of the secondary figures in the composition HAR #46911, and interpreting the eight siddhas in the Kalachakra composition, the central figure and seven surrounding siddha figures most likely represent eight of the twenty-four shakta pithas, Tantric holy places of India.

Jeff Watt 2-2016

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Painting Set: Dalai Lama VII (Secret Biography)
Subject: Geography (Pitha Locations)
Subject: Unidentified Indian Adepts
Teacher: Dalai Lama VII, Kalzang Gyatso (mahasiddha)
Teacher: Dalai Lama VII, Kalzang Gyatso
Publication: A Tale of Thangkas
Collection: Bonhams New York (Painting & Sculpture. March, 2017)