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. 200033)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Bon
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# C2003.50.9
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

A story of a previous life (Tibetan: kye rab) of Tonpa Shenrab.

This example of a narrative painting is from a set of paintings of unknown number that recounts the previous lives (Tib.: kye rab) of Tonpa Shenrab. This continuous narrative is one complete story that involves Tonpa Shenrab traveling in foreign lands with one of his brothers. The brother is killed during an altercation and a stupa is placed over his body and final resting spot.

The life story of Tonpa Shenrab along with the recounting of his previous lives are found in three principal texts: the first, and considered the oldest, is the Dodu (Wylie: mdo 'dus) in one volume and twenty-four chapters. Second is the Zermig (gzer mig) in two volumes and eighteen chapters discovered in the 10th century, followed by the Zije (Wylie: gzi brjid) comprised of twelve volumes and sixty-one chapters discovered in the 14th century by Tulku Loden Nyingpo. The last two texts belong to the Revealed Treasure tradition (Tib.: ter ma) of the Bon religion.

Jeff Watt & Lee Hartline 1-2000, revised August 2005

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Bon: Artworks (All)
Bon: Tonpa Shenrab - Previous Lives
Exhibition: Bon, The Magic Word (RMA 2007)
Bon: Tonpa Shenrab - Life Story (Miscellaneous Images)
Subject: Coloured Mountains Page
Bon Paintings: Masterworks
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Bon Artworks
Subject: Narrative Sets (no central figure)