Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 162)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1400 - 1499
Lineages Sakya, Ngor (Sakya) and Buddhist
Size 72.39x60.96cm (28.50x24in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment, Fine Gold Line on Cotton
Collection Shelley & Donald Rubin
Catalogue # acc.# P1994.21.8
Painting School Ngor
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Monastic

Gender: Male

TBRC: P1056

Interpretation / Description

Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen on the left and his nephew Chogyal Pagpa seated on the right surrounded by the lineage teachers of the Guhyasamaja Tantra; Akshobhyavajra, Manjuvajra and Avalokita. The composition belongs to a larger set of paintings with the greatest likelihood being that of a Lamdre (margapala) lineage set. It became customary in and around the 15th century within the Sakya and Ngor traditions to have a set of Lamdre lineage paintings commissioned prior to the several month long cycle of instructions and initiations into that system of tantric theory and practice. Sometimes the individual compositions making up a set would be commissioned by different individuals attending the course of teachings and not always commissioned by a single donor. It is also common to depict in each single composition a complete secondary lineage such as in this painting having the Guhyasamaja lineage surrounding the two central Lamdre teachers.

Sakya Pandita is seated on the viewer's left side wearing a large red pandita hat. His two hands are held in the teaching gesture while holding the stems of two utpala flowers supporting a sword and book. Chogyal Pagpa is on the right side with the same gesture and flower blossoms supporting a vajra and bell. Between the two and slightly above is Manjuvajra Guhyasamaja, orange in colour. Above the head of Sakya Pandita is Akshobhyavajra Guhyasamaja, blue in colour. Above Chogyal Pagpa is Avalokita Guhyasamaja, red in colour.

At the top left and moving towards the right is the lineage of the Guhyasamaja practice and initiation lineage.

The Guhyasamaja Lineage of Jnanapada: Vajradhara, Arya Manjushri, Acharya Buddha Jnana, Marmedze Zangpo, Shri Deva, Vimalagupta, Ratnavajra, Ratnakirti, Lama Pendapa, Lama Nyen Lotsawa, Lama Nang Kaupa, The Lord of Dharma Sakyapa (Sachen Kunga Nyingpo 1092-1158).

"...Manjuvajra, with a body the colour of purified gold, three faces and six hands. The main face is yellow, the right blue and the left white. The first two hands embrace the Mother. The lower right hands hold a sword and arrow, and the lower left an utpala [flower] and bow; wearing jewel ornaments and having the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks; seated with the legs in the vajra posture. In the lap is the Mother Manjuvajra with three faces and six hands, with the colour, hand objects and embrace, the same as that of the Father. Both are resting in a state of union and emanating forth rays of light." (Written by Jamyang Khyentse Wangchug, 1524-1568 reference).

Name inscriptions are provided for Sapan and Pagpa along with each of the lineage figures and Guhyasamaja deities. The composition is drawn and painted in a late Gyantse style and the date should be close to the late 15th century, or circa 1500. It is not currently known as to how many compositions are in the complete painting set and no other compositions have yet been identified.

Jeff Watt 4-2001 [updated 5-2019]

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Subject: Margapala Lineage Paintings (Sakya)
Tradition: Sakya Teachers
Painting Style: Gyantse Scroll Paintings
Teacher: Two Main Figures (Composition)
Tradition: Sakya Founders
Teacher: Sakya Pandita, Kunga Gyaltsen
Subject: Margapala Sets (Two Figures)
Painting Set: Margapala (Miscellaneous)
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin
Teacher: Chogyal Pagpa Main Page
Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (Teachers)