Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Tonpa Shenrab (Founder of Bon) - (main form)

སྟོན་པ་གཤེན་རབ། བོན་ལུགས་སྲོལ་གཏོད་པ། 敦巴辛绕传记(苯教开创人)
(item no. 200003)
Origin Location Nepal
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Bon
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1996.20.33
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Shenrab Miwo - the Teacher, founder of the religion of Yungdrung Bon surrounded by 250 Enlightened Ones (Tibetan: sang gye) and belonging to the set of Four Transcendent Lords.

Gazing forward with a peaceful expression, yellow in colour, he extends the right hand across the knee. The left hand is placed in the lap in the gesture of meditation. Adorning the head is a crown of various jewels and red ribbons hanging at the sides. Decorated with gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets and anklets he wears a green upper garment across the shoulders, a red scarf across the chest and a red skirt. With the legs folded in the posture of meditation atop a red-blue lotus blossom seat and an ornate throne he is surrounded by a blue nimbus and pink areola against a backdrop of flower blossoms, snow lions, dragons, makaras and a garuda outstretched at the peak. Standing at the right side is a swastika scepter crowned with a jewel. Two attendant figures, green and yellow, stand slightly behind the throne.

Two hundred and fifty identical figures surround the main form of Tonpa Shenrab. They all sit with the same posture, although in various colours, and a swastika scepter stands at the right side. At the bottom center is a wrathful deity, the guardian of the door to the sacred enclosure, blue in colour, with nine faces and eighteen hands. At the bottom left a lama attired in monastic robes and a hat sits below an offering table. In front an attendant monk stands next to a small table while two monastic figures and six lay people kneel behind. At the bottom right a small figure dressed in white with the hands folded in prayer kneels atop a lotus blossom. (A written inscription in fine gold lettering runs along the length of the bottom).

Jeff Watt & Lee Hartline 1-2000

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Bon Deity: Four Transcendent Lords Main Page
Bon: Tonpa Shenrab (Four Transcendent Lords)
Bon: Artworks (All)
Nepal: Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 9
Bon: Tonpa Shenrab Main Page
Bon: Tonpa Shenrab Iconography
Painting Style: Bon Art in West Tibet
Bon Deity: Four Transcendent Lords (Set 6)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Bon Artworks