Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Teacher (Lama) - (unidentified, male, lay)

བླ་མ། 喇嘛
(item no. 2216)
Origin Location Tibet
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Lay Person

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

An unidentified lay teacher in siddha, or rather mahasiddha appearance. At the top center is Vira Vajradharama, red in colour, holding a drum and a skullcup. Two Indian teachers sit on the right and left sides. Slightly below on the right and left are two Tibetan teachers in lay appearance.

The central figure holds upraised in the proper right hand a double-sided hand drum. The left hand holds a skullcup in the lap. A katvanga staff rests against the shoulder. The figure wears a crown of five skulls, bone necklaces and bracelets. A tiger skin is wrapped around the waist and a red meditational belts loosely hangs across the chest. He sits in a relaxed posture with the right leg pendant atop a deerskin and cushion seat. Slightly behind on the proper right side is a large vessel filled with alcohol. On his left is a round bag, orange and green with a yellow ribbon, of provisions.

On a square table in front are three 'torma' (stylized food), two skullcups, garlic, onions, meat, along with other transgressive foods regularly partaken during a 'tantric feast' (ganachakra).

At the bottom center is a teacher in lay appearance with the hands at the heart in a teaching gesture. On the right and left sides are Gelug teachers wearing yellow pandita hats and monastic robes.

The central figure is most likely a teacher of Eastern Tibet that is a practitioner of Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini. He would have been a follower of the Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and a regular practitioner of the special 10th and 25th lunar calendar 'tantric feast' rituals of Vajrayogini.

The artist has used a black and white photo as his model for drawing the face in a realistic style which means that the person being represented must have lived between roughly 1850 and the 1900s. Depicting teachers in this style of photo-realism became very popular among the Tibetan community in the teens and twenties of the 1900s.

The other Indian and Tibetan figures in the composition are not identifiable at this time. There are not enough iconographic attributes and clues along with not having any name inscriptions written beneath the figures.

Jeff Watt 5-2017

Reverse of Painting
Special Features: (Printed script (Uchen), includes "Om Ah Hum" inscription)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Thematic Sets
Subject: Teachers Holding Drums
Subject: Teachers with Drums (Unidentified)
Collection: Jongen-Schleiper (Paintings)
Painting: Photo Realism Main Page
Collection: Bonhams London (Teachers)
Painting: Portraits Page
Tradition: Gelug Teachers (Paintings)